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Blood Ceremony: The Old Ways Remain

What band combines doom, psych, prog, folk, big guitar riffs, flute, organ, enchanting female vocals, and occult themed lyrical content? Well, there might be a few that come to mind, but the only one that completely fits that description, and is the correct answer, would be Canada's Blood Ceremony. The Old Ways Remain is their latest release for Rise Above Records, and fifth overall, following 2016's Lord of Misrule. I've long described this band as a head-on collision of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Jethro Tull, and Pentangle, and they often times coined 'flute-tinged witch rock', which also describes them quite well. The Old Ways Remain is arguably the most accessible release from the band yet, the big doom laden sounds of the early albums giving way to more late '60s psychedelia & pop, folk, and '70s hard rock, none of which are a bad thing unless the reason you came to the band was for the metal side of their music. Alia O'Brien as always is the focal point, her excellent vocals, flute, and organ make up a healthy part of the arrangements, along with the crisp & crunchy guitar work of Sean Kennedy, and the rhythm section of Lucas Gadke (bass) and Michael Carrillo (drums).

My initial response to this album was one of acceptance, but I also admit to being one of those who really was starting to miss the more doom laden early material. That's subsided in recent weeks and many spins later, and much like what Lucifer have been doing on their last two albums, I'm finding this groovier, more hook laden but still quite dramatic & rockin' Blood Ceremony to be quite enchanting. "The Hellfire Club" is terrific, love the vocals, love the guitar riffs, love the flute, and LOVE the chorus, while "Ipsissimus" has a charming vocal from Alia as she floats over big fat riffs and soaring flute, and again, the chorus is just irresistible and seems like it time traveled out of 1968. Throw in Ian Anderson and "Eugenie" could have been a Jethro Tull song from 1970 (love the organ solo, plus the guest sax is groove-a-licious!), while "Lolly Willows"lends some hard rock guitar muscle to an otherwise lush little psychedelic folk rock song. Who else can make a song like "Powers of Darkness" so catchy and uplifting? That's right, this band. For darker, heavier fare, check out the riffy "The Bonfires at Belloc Coombe", the Pentagram inspired "Widdershins", and the creepy folk metal of "Song of the Morrow", which is simply a marvelous song.

Blood Ceremony have proven that they still have a lot of tricks up their sleeve with The Old Ways Remain. While not as out and out heavy as some of their early albums, there's lots of little nuances and clever arrangements happening here that should appeal to more than just doom fans. It's folky, it's psychedelic, and it rocks quite hard in spots, plus, who doesn't like dreamy female vocals, flute, organ, and loads of guitar? Another winner from this band that just oozes the coolness factor.

Track Listing

  1. The Hellfire Club
  2. Ipsissimus
  3. Eugenie
  4. Lolly Willows
  5. Powers of Darkness
  6. The Bonfires at Belloc Coombe
  7. Widdershins
  8. Hecate
  9. Mossy Wood
  10. Song of the Morrow

Added: July 9th 2023
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 464
Language: english

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