Review Summary: A more experimental outing for BLOOD CEREMONY that preserves their refreshingly vintage sound while expanding this stylistic palette.
I have a lot of love for Blood Ceremony's carefully hewn vintage sound. It's a remarkable thing for a new release to possess the power to transport us 40 years into the past. On their last two releases, refined their unique doomy, occult rock into a sort of "Celtic Sabbath". LORD OF MISRULE preserves this wonderful formula while also showing some stylistic growth. While there are still plenty of sinister doom laden guitar riffs from Sean Kennedy, Blood Ceremony is clearly outgrowing the constraints of any single genre or style.
One of things I greatly admire about Blood Ceremony is their dedication to the almighty vibe that perfectly suits their odes to ritualism and pagan imagery. For instance, the opening song "The Devil's Widow" is over 7 minutes long, but doesn't overstay it's welcome with needless instrumental showboating. Alia O'Brien's flute solo in the middle perfectly suits the mood as it drifts from doom to prog-rock to a melancholy acoustic section. This track is easily my favorite on the album and should easily appeal to fans of the last two albums. It's lyrics are inspired by the old Scottish folk song "Tam Lin".
Their lyrical themes add yet another layer to the depth of their songs. How often have rock bands tackled such concepts as the medieval tradition of having a "lord of misrule" during holiday festivities? I really respect the intellectual curiosity behind these song ideas.
As much as I love this record as a whole, I must concede that the songs aren't quite as strong this time around. The title track, "Old Fires" and "The Rogue's Lot" should satisfy older fans, but songs like "Flower Phantoms" add a bit of Motown R&B to the mix. While it might initially seem like a hard left turn stylistically, it somehow works and does add some variety to the album. "Loreley" also shares a bit of this mid 60s vibe with the Beatle-esque pulse of the verses.
While I do prefer THE ELDRITCH DARK just a tad more, I can't deny that this album has been addicting in its own right. This one will require a few more spins to adjust to, but I'm thankful for a new Blood Ceremony album in 2016.