Blood Ceremony - Lord Of Misrule - (9/10)
Published on March 22, 2016
Conceived in 2006, on the eve of the occult rock revival, Toronto’s Blood Ceremony have torn themselves apart from the pack through rich combinations of psychedelia, folk rock, and frontwoman Alia O’Brien’s fondness for spirited flutes and organs. Their fondness of Hammer horror aesthetics and the dark side of the 60’s may be less novel, but nevertheless makes them a perfect crown jewel in Rise Above Records’ impressive roster. Three years have passed since the enthralling The Eldritch Dark was released, on which the band let their folk side take a front seat. With Lord Of Misrule, the midnight revelry makes a return in a collection of supremely addictive tunes, performed with the theatrical passion that has become a trademark of the band.
Jumping straight into the thick of it, “The Devil’s Widow” is an immediately brilliant addition to the Blood Ceremony canon. With an upbeat and punchy hook, a ferocious chorus, and a soft acoustic interlude before the final blow, the track feels like an amalgamation of the best parts of the band’s previous efforts. Similar things hold true for the title track, and the almost frustratingly catchy “Old Fires”, all three of which are instant earworms that somehow become better for each subsequent spin. Despite feeling like archetypical Blood Ceremony numbers, these songs are more tightly constructed around O’Brien’s voice, a worthwhile change considering this is her greatest performance yet. Having altered her vocals somewhat for The Eldritch Dark to better fit the folk rock overtones, Lord Of Misrule sees O’Brien move between those soft-spoken ditties to a far more intense performance in the blink of an eye, perfectly mirroring the dualistic nature that Blood Ceremony’s music has reached.
Improving upon past performances is well and good, but Blood Ceremony have pushed their sound in new directions with every new release. There’s a late 60’s hippie streak running throughout Lord Of Misrule, pushing the band into new territories when they’re not busy perfecting their core sound. The flower power atmosphere is an interesting departure from the band’s darker fare, and tracks such as “Loreley” lay closer to The Beatles than they to Coven or Black Widow. The change feels a little out of place at first, but the core of Blood Ceremony has always been midnight merriment and Hellfire Club-style pagan devilry, rather than dour-faced Satanism. Seen in light of the bacchanalian hedonism running through Lord Of Misrule, the lighter touch of these songs slot in neatly alongside the more overtly occult psychedelia.
Blood Ceremony have become experts at conveying diabolical debauchery and carousing as a jolly good time, without sacrificing substance, a feat that few other are able to pull off. With fantastic and relentlessly catchy tunes such as “Half Moon Street” and “Old Fires”, interspersed with tender balladry and flowery ditties, Lord Of Misrule might be the group’s finest album to date. Only in the past week I must have listened to the album 20 or 30 times, and will surely be cavorting with the satyrs, cultists, and blazing bonfires for many nights to come.