Lord of Misrule is not a metal album. While you could file their 2008 debut—still a personal favourite—under “Doom,” Blood Ceremony has moved away from that style on subsequent releases. I would even contend that there’s nothing metallic about The Eldritch Dark, which was named one of Rolling Stone’s top metal albums of 2013. While so many “female-fronted-occult-rock” bands have sprung up in recent years, owing their existence to Blood Ceremony and Jex Thoth, it would be relatively easy for them to crank out album after album of Witchcraft worship for the punters who’ll buy anything with Rise Above on the spine… but I respect them for not doing so, even if it means we’ll never get “Return to Forever Pt. 2.”
With all that being said, I prefer this record to its most immediate predecessor. This is a solid mix of prog/folk/psych rock with a throwback, vintage feel, coming closer to Coven than so many other records within this accursed sub-genre.
“The Devil’s Widow” opens the album on arguably its heaviest note, though it’s notably more sedate than, say, “The Great God Pan.” Still, there is a nice trade-off between crunching guitar and soaring flute almost from the get-go, and a vicious vocal drives a rather rollicking riff throughout a fairly up-tempo verse, leading to a repetitive chorus that recalls the aforementioned ode to the great god. Throw in a patented flute solo for good measure, and I think this number will be a fine addition to their live set.
“Loreley” sounds sorta like a jangly 60’s pop tune, driven by a warm Korg keyboard and a soaring chorus. The Coven influence is quite strong on this one. “The Rogue’s Lot” has this slow, ringing riff that rumbles along with aplomb, before picking up the pace for a more proggy chorus. The title track contains perhaps the catchiest, crunchiest chorus of the record, another standout that’s sure to be played live.
From there, the jaunty “Half Moon Street” gives way to mellow ballad “The Weird of Finistere,” which sounds sorta like a sea shanty. “Flower Phantoms” is a total throwback to the swingin’ sixties, while “Old Fires” gives off a bit of a Deep Purple vibe—a real heavy vegetable that’s a little light on the organ. “Things Present, Things Past” ends things on an airy, mournful note, nicely bookending the bombast of “Devil’s Widow.” A solid listening experience from start to finish, this is pretty much the definition of album-oriented rock…and that’s not a bad thing, especially if you like 70’s music.