Living with the Ancients (Rise Above/Metal Blade)
Toronto-based quartet Blood Ceremony’s second album, Living with the Ancients, is chock full of bluesy, heavy, distorted 1960s-styled stoner rock featuring the reverb-heavy vocals of witchy chanteuse Alia O’Brien. When the frontwoman isn’t singing, she’s either grinding the keys of a Hammond organ or playing the flute. The contrast of airy flute melodies works well against the lumbering, bottom-heavy grooves laid down by the rest of band. If it helps, think “In Rock”-era Deep Purple meets Black Sabbath meets Jethro Tull as musical reference points — and in this writer’s opinion, that’s definitely not a bad thing. The songwriting is excellent with memorable hooks and choruses throughout. The fuzzy production of this album makes it sound as if it could have been released in the late 1960s or ‘70s, and overall this record is killer top to bottom (a rare thing for most modern metal albums). Living with the Ancients is an incredible slab of occult heavy metal for the retro lover in you.
– Gary Spencer