Blood Ceremony – The Old Ways (Rise Above Records)

Extremely late to the party reviewing this one; so apologies to the band and Rise Above Records. Fifth full length release from the Toronto quartet which builds on the bands previous releases and incorporates a few new elements into the mix. Opening track The HellFire Club is quintessential Blood Ceremony both in it’s Tull-esque folk rock and occult leaning lyrics.

It’s more of the same on Ipsissimus before the band introduce the first of their musical deviations on Eugenie with an unexpected saxophone break giving the song a highly authentic 70s feel. Lolly Willows, which I’m assuming is named after Sylvia Townsend Warner’s 1926 feminist treatise (despite the missing e), returns the band to the familiar territory of 70s Folk/Hard Rock. 

Although Black Sabbath are often touted as the basis of any band playing Occult/Doom styled Rock/Metal their direct influence on Blood Ceremony has always been quite subtle in my opinion, although the opening riff and drum pattern of The Bonfires of Belloc Coombe owes a definite debt to War Pigs, the songs pulls itself back into traditional Blood Ceremony style with a furiously Celtic fiddle solo. The band’s second surprise arrives courtesy of Hecate which (or witch if you prefer) sounds like an authentic 60s pop song, with, dare I say, a slight Mamas and Papas’ influence. Album closer Song of the Morrow is a meandering psychedelic progfest that rounds out the familiar yet expanding sound of a band that still has more than a few tricks up its sleeve. Ian Pickens

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