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Blood Ceremony / Steak (live at The Garage)

London
14 June 2017

Blood Ceremony live June 2017‘Are you going to see Kings X?’, the guy in the pub says to me.

‘No, I’m going to see a band called Blood Ceremony at The Garage’, I reply.

‘They sound a bit weird to me, mate’; and with that he shuffles off, pint in hand.

It’s a hot June night in London and sometimes a cooling pint in the pub seems like a better option than a sticky venue packed with people, but this is Blood Ceremony, which means this is special to me.

By the time we get inside the venue, Steak have already taken to the stage. To be honest, I knew nothing about the band apart from the fact that they were London-based, so it’s always good to be surprised by a band you have not heard before.

Steak live June 2017

Singer Kip takes command of the stage and certainly has a powerful set of lungs on him as he leads the band through songs from their latest LP No God To Save. Their sound mixes stoner and psychedelic elements and the band certainly know a thing about groove as well. Reece on guitar manages to shift gear from one glorious riff to another, while Cam on bass and Sammy on drums manage to push the songs ahead with a full-on momentum of an F1 race car. But amidst all this heavy bombast there are beautiful moments of subtle and ethereal playing that take you right back to bands from the early Seventies. There is a smattering of Kyuss, Sleep and even Budgie in their sound, but this all goes into the melting pot and gets cooked up to come out as prime Steak.

As the band close their set with a final triumphant number, they have certainly won over the gathering crowd at The Garage, myself included. They are certainly a band to watch out for and to catch live if you can.

Blood Ceremony live June 2017

The last time Blood Ceremony played London was at 2016’s Desertfest, so it was good to see them back here again. As the new album Lord of Misrule has already been out for over a year, these gigs can’t really be seen as promotion for it, but are probably more like a chance for the band to embrace and go through their back catalogue, and present a show with some of their favourite numbers.

Problems with the guitar amp throw a spanner in the works for the opening number “Old Fires” though, but after that the rest of the set is powerful and plain sailing for the band, who sound wonderful. Alia O’Brien stands behind her keyboard, hair flowing wildly with flute in hand. She is like a Seventies witchcraft version of the Pied Piper, calling the audience to follow her to the Sabbat in some dark woodland where torches burn among the trees.

Blood Ceremony live June 2017

After sorting out the amp problem, Sean Kennedy’s guitar playing is mercurial. He moves between powerful heavy rock riffs and subtle Sixties-sounding fret work and make it look easy. Lucas Gadke‘s bass jumps around with a melodic flair that I’ve not seen heard the late Chris Squire last strapped on his Rickenbacker. Michael Carrillo’s drums push the songs ahead, and add light touches and fills in all the right places.

The set list contains songs like “Half Moon Street” from the latest album as well as “Oliver Haddo” from Living With The Ancients. The marvellous “Goodbye Gemini” and “The Magician” from the Eldritch Dark album are always welcome in any Blood Ceremony set, but the real joy is hearing “I’m Coming With You” still in the set from their début album.

Blood Ceremony live June 2017

What makes Blood Ceremony’s songs so wonderful is that tapping into ancient magicks as they traverse through folk and prog and doom metal riffs. Alia’s organ runs and flute playing add a certain odd quality to the band that takes us back to the witch craze of the early ’70s and conjures up images in the minds eye of  dark psychedelic rituals. There have been a few bands in the last couple of years who have tried to borrow from Blood Ceremony’s sound, but none have managed to capture the atmosphere and the revelry of dancing with the great god Pan on a midsummer’s night as well as they do. I’m just looking forward to hear what secret occult places they take us to on their next album.

-Words: Gary Parsons-
-Pictures: Dave Pettit-

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