Blood Ceremony: The Eldritch Dark

Third offering from the Canadian metal-folksters.

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Blood Ceremony are awkward to define. As sometime touring partners of Ghost and Electric Wizard, they’re pretty much mired in the conventional realm of doom rock, but then there’s their folky stuff, all pagan flutes and spritefuls of Fairport imagery.

The Eldritch Dark finds the latter more evident, in particular the bucolic acoustics of Lord Summerisle, infectious enough to conjure fresh images of Christopher Lee prancing about on May Day. Ballad Of The Weird Sisters, the album’s standout, gets the balance just about right, led by a great metal riff and piping flute, essaying a dark tale of death, witchery and mandrake roots.

Black magic rites are rampant, making this a kind of concept record in the tradition of wyrd-horror types Comus, though the creepy organ that ushers in Witchwood (less Hammond than Hammer) suggests a more playful brand of sorcery. Spirits of Sabbath and Jethro Tull, even back-to- the-land Traffic, loom large throughout.

Not all of it works though. Alia O’Brien is a very fine flautist, but she’s less expressive as a singer, her voice failing to save the band’s more lumpen metal moments, like Goodbye Gemini or Drawing Down The Moon.

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.