It’s a sad fact that many have gone into orgasmic overload over the retro/occult rock of Ghost (and its come-to-the-Sabbath shtick) when really bands like Canada’s Blood Ceremony (and the sadly defunct the Devil’s Blood) deserve the most attention for awaking genuinely diabolic spirits. Blood Ceremony’s third full-length, The Eldritch Dark, is a magnificently bewitching ritual of archaic folk, vintage hard rock, and sinister psychedelia. The band’s previous albums, 2008’s Blood Ceremony and 2011’s Living With the Ancients, both showcased its spellbinding (black) magic, and The Eldritch Dark tells similarly dark tales of covens, sorcery, fiendish Victorian pacts, and deals with the Devil.
The Eldritch Dark is draped in ‘70s rock, flute flurries, and Hammer Horror keyboards, and while other retro-rockers make clearly calculated moves to capture antique occultist moods, Blood Ceremony simply oozes with a genuine love and deep appreciation of acts like Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull, Pentagram, and Pentangle. Alia O’Brien provides the vocals, organ and flute — three crucial elements that Blood Ceremony’s masses have been built upon — and her work here is the best it has ever been. Tracks such as “Witchwood”, “Goodbye Gemini”, and “The Magician” are mesmerizing, magical jams. They’re filled with Sean Kennedy’s gloriously fluid guitar lines, Lukas Gake’s rumbling bass (which adds the grim low-end), and drummer Michael Carrillo letting swing with the Bill Ward jazzy looseness. The Eldritch Dark is the perfect campfire/coven/smoky basement album to luxuriate in, its devilishly delightful and iniquitous melodies set to entrance.