Blood Ceremony: Living With the Ancients

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Blood Ceremony: Living With the Ancients
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Blood Ceremony: Living With the Ancients
Doom Metal, Heavy Metal
Rise Above Records
March 15th, 2011
Release length: 45:44
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Blood Ceremony is one of the earlier bands to be signed to the rather unique label Rise Above Records. The label issued their debut self-titled release in 2008, and in 2011 the labels finds the band releasing their follow-up full-length effort, Living with the Ancients. This female fronted Canadian Psychadelic Doom Metal act weaves this sound with a traditional Heavy Metal vibe to create a very occult-sounding album that lives up to the general Stoner Rock/Metal expectations for such a psychadelic romp well. But, with the slow growing underground fixation on acts like this, does this example of modern day sixties inspired hippie tunes stack up to what’s already available?

Unlike many of today’s more psychadelic acts, Blood Ceremony bring in a more modern production quality, leaving behind a raw, analog sound for a much clearer and digital approach, while still having enough of a muddied appeal to their music overall to retain a general heaviness to the tunes. While the general atmosphere of the recording is like that of a more sinister, occult-like Psychadelic Rock act, the lyrical content, and even some of the music itself features a strong Folk atmosphere. “Coven Tree” is a solid combination of early Stoner Rock and Metal, something fans of Black Sabbath will eat up, especially during the final third of the song when it breaks out into what sounds like blatent idol worship, but prior to that sudden burst of musical energy, derailing the Doom Metal aspect of the group slightly, as well as during that section, there is a really over-the-top flute permorance that stems from a flute solo prior to that track. “The Hermit” starts out with a similar flute performance that isn’t too overpowering, and is placed against a very “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult style of song.

Living With the Ancients actually has quite a diverse amount of musical offerings throughout the album. THe heavier tracks on here really shine through, as they typically have less of a chance to go over the top due to the slower pace they go at. “Oliver Haddo”, for example, is a fantastic throwback to the old Stoner Rock days, mixed nicely with a more traditional Heavy Metal approach. The female vocals suit the music perfectly, being very soft and working nicely with the subtle psychadelic sounds of the track that the organ gives off throughout the song. That organ is also what makes the song sound so powerful, working well with the simple yet ultimately somewhat epic sounding chords that, again, take the song back to the more impressive Stoner Rock days of the style. Of course, this track asts for a good eight plus minutes, and runs the chance of tricking you into thinking it’s another song entirely due to the changea in the music as it progresses, especially towards the end when the lo-fi organs kick in with a brief solo prior to the guitars picking up again. You actually will know when it hits the next track, “Night of Augery”, due to the sudden shift away from the heavier sound to the more atmospheric Folk Rock style that is a lot lighter and seems to have a varied vocal performance as far as the energy levels go. One other track that should be considered is “The Witch’s Dance”, which is a forty second instrumental that, at first, really seems useless. However, when the upbeat gypsy-like dancing music kicks off “Daughter of the Sun”, it becomes a very important track, as it sets up the song perfectly, working it’s way in as a very important introduction to the track, and there’s even that just right amount of silence between the two that it acts more like it is one track, though it’s two.

But that’s where one of the biggest faults come into play. While the music on Living With the Ancients is very well done, and each track on here typically sounds great and really appeals to the darker side of the listener, the varying elements of the songs are enough to drive the listener batty. The album is mixed between light hearted track that feel like psychadelic trips of whimsical folksy lore, or really dark, hammering, energetic Heavy Metal and Stoner Metal romps that hammer away at the listener. On top of that, the mood of the music really affects the vocal performance. The production finds the music to be very loud compared to the vocals, and due to the female clean singing vocals being varied in energy and projection, the folksy tracks typically find the vocals to be completely washed over by the music, at times nearly inaudible. However, when it comes to the heavier material, the vocals really feel much more energetic, louder, and boom over the music. “Oliver Haddo” finds each word sung to be clear as a bell over the music, whereas “Cover Tree” and “Night of Augery” find the vocals to be much lighter, and almost always completely covered by the music. You can hear she’s saying something, but it winds up being low enough to pick up on, but not loud enough to make out, almost like a voice lost in white noise.

Living With the Ancients proves to be a rather challenging Rock/Metal album that brings in plenty of varying styles and idea. However, that wide array does become a bit too wide in the final mix. While there is a fluid vibe to each song throughout the album, jumping from lighter Folk to Heavy Metal tinged Stoner Rock really does make for a drastic jump regardless of how much they fit a specific sound from one song to another. The vocals become a problem throughout the recording, but when she projects during some of the heavier tracks, it all works well together. The flutes are also quite impressive, but once in a while it feels like they just go over-the-top. In the long run, this release actually is really enjoyable, and winds up just having some potholes that easily could have been worked out in the long run. There’s plenty of infectious, memorable songs, and a few that will have your frustrated and become forgetable. The band’s darker material clearly surpasses the album, and actually becomes quite impressive. If you haven’t had the chance to check out Blood Ceremony, then let Living With the Ancients welcome you to a dark and trippy world of largely unique Psychadelic Metal that stands out nicely against the many more generic sounding bands that don’t necessarily offer anything too interesting outside a slightly darker atmosphere with occult or satanic themes.

01. The Great God Pan – 7:31
02. Coven Tree – 4:48
03. The Hermit – 2:35
04. My Demon Brother – 4:48
05. Morning of the Magicians – 6:58
06. Oliver Haddo – 8:12
07. Night of Augury – 6:05
08. The Witch’s Dance – 0:40
09. Daughter of the Sun – 10:11
Overall Score: 8.5/10
Blood Ceremony (Band)
Blood Ceremony (Logo)Digital review copy of this release provided by Rise Above Records via Metal Blade Records.