THE BOTTOMLESS CAULDRON of metal is bubbling over with female-fronted, '70s-worshipping bands these days. These are bands that don't necessarily fall into the metal category, but their bleak, bluesy riffs come directly from the bedrock beginnings of metal, so they're embraced by most of the community. If one wanted to be a genre geek about it—and most metal fans would—one could refer to them as post-proto-metal, or you could simply say they enjoy Black Sabbath's discography... a lot.
Toronto's Blood Ceremony is still at the forefront of the throwback movement. Their blend of folk and progressive hard rock plays alongside Alia O'Brien's buttery voice and flute and organ skills, making the band's sound tough to match. They've put two stellar full-lengths into the ether since their inception in 2006, and are set to release their third, The Eldritch Dark, later this month. Via email, guitar player Sean Kennedy has nothing to hide about the band's devotion to the sounds of old.
"Generally, while we're getting our songs ready, I'm not listening to very much new music at all. Leading up to recording The Eldritch Dark I was listening to a lot of Fairport Convention and Black Sabbath," he says.
Along with following the old guard's tonal cues, Blood Ceremony fills their songs with dark lyrical content. Subjects like witchcraft, paganism, and the occult drench every track and the band's aesthetic style. But not unlike most creepy hard-rock acts from the '70s, it's all for show—playing into the morbid curiosity of the fans.
"The pagan atmosphere in our songs come from a variety of sources and interests," Kennedy says. "Some of it's pop-occult stuff, other bits and pieces are from some of the more eccentric occult horror films of the late '60s and early '70s—a time when a lot of people had a serious interest in the occult."
Fun is fun, but according to Kennedy, just because Blood Ceremony isn't chanting and cutting themselves before each show doesn't mean they can't entrance their listeners. "With every performance we're trying to put our magic on the audience. If you can create a vibe with music that changes someone, even momentarily, then you've successfully cast a spell."