Blood Ceremony seems to be obsessed with two things. One of them is late ‘60s—early ‘70s proto-metal like Iron Butterfly, Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath. The other is witchcraft. They’re a four-piece fronted by singer/flautist Alia O’Brien, and their riffs are appropriately slow and crunchy. They have that quality where even the uptempo songs feel like they’re slowly crawling through a haze. So they’ve figured out how to effectively replicate the sounds of that time. And O’Brien’s dramatic, over-the-top vocals go pretty well with the way over-the-top lyrics about all things witchy (song titles include “Into the Coven” and “Hop Toad”). But frankly, it all seems a bit silly, like they’re hovering dangerously close to Meatloaf-level theatrics, albeit more grimy.
But the thing that really hurts Blood Ceremony is the second half of O’Brien’s job description. She’s a full-time flute player in the band. The flute can seem like a cool, even otherworldly sound in metal, at least when it’s used in moderation. But O’Brien plays her flute nearly every time she stops singing, and it quickly goes from interesting to tiresome. And since Blood Ceremony is decidedly backwards-looking with their sound, they don’t have any clever musical tricks up their sleeve to find a way to make the flute work for them instead of against them.