Album Review: BLOOD CEREMONY Lord Of Misrule
Blood Ceremony have long held a special place in my heart. After all, 2013's The Eldritch Dark is one of my favorite albums of all time, the perfect listen for late night drives through the woods. Historically they are also a bit hit and miss; many seemed to feel that 2011's Living With The Ancients was a bit of a step back for the band. Still, there is something wonderfully eerie about Blood Ceremony and their obsession with bands like Coven and Black Widow. The visceral magic and otherworldly might that Blood Ceremony so easily harnesses often borders on transcendent. Their latest effort, Lord Of Misrule sees the band expanding on previous triumphs, and though I'm not sure that I prefer this release to The Eldritch Dark I can tell you this much: it's a damn good listen.
One of the things that has always made Blood Ceremony so good is Alia O'Brien's use of flute, giving the band a unique feel in their organ drenched, psychedelic soundscapes. After all, this is a group who don't just push boundaries but rather expand sonic possibilities in a genre that is too often cut off by stereotypical rock and roll tropes. Lord Of Misrule shines most brightly when Blood Ceremony fully embrace who they are rather than dawdling on bullshit notions that seem to be dominating the scene right now. The pure energy and tripped out beauty of these songs is only matched by the ethereal moments that caress the listener into a sense of sublime security. Inherently witchy, these guys are in a fight against a world that often eschews the old ways.
Long story short: Blood Ceremony have always embraced the pagan magic of their music. The band is at their finest when they readily engage with it and showcase the poppy magic that makes them so great. The album's second track, the inimitable "Loreley" is a perfect example of this. Blood Ceremony have always been against the grain and the more they showcase this the better off they are. When they fall into shouty vocals and stoner metal riffs I can't help but get bored, though. These guys have their thing, and the more they stick to it, the happier the listener is. Simply put, Blood Ceremony have some great fucking songs on this record, it just doesn't feel as universally solid as The Eldritch Dark was. It leaves me a little confused, wanting more, and not sure if the band can truly deliver.
Still, if you love old Blood Ceremony stuff then you are going to love this record. Objectively speaking, Lord Of Misrule is a great listen, it just doesn't always live up to the band's true potential. I hold them to a higher standard because I know they are capable of so much more. This is an album you will want to come back to time and time again though, there is a very real artistry behind the soundscapes and the pure poetic motion that falls into place with these songs. The druidic majesty of Lord Of Misrule will fascinate many a listener, and Blood Ceremony certainly know how to capitalize on that. Ever evolving and always interesting, this band has left me just a trifle disappointed, but I'm sure I will be coming back to Lord Of Misrule sooner than I would expect.