Let the conjurations begin! Or at the very least an evening of fine music.
The steps down into the darkened caverns of The Borderline seem quite apt for an evening of occult rock and I soon took my place at the centre of the circle and drank of the liquid of the ancient ones in preparation. First up are Spiders, and what a wonderful way to start the evening. The band, who are promoting their album Flash Point, are energetic and powerful. They are more earthy than the headliners and seem more like the bikers in Werewolves on Wheels in comparison to Blood Ceremony’s occultists. Spiders have a definite ’70s rock feel with an ear for a good tune and a fine riff. None of their tracks ever outstay their welcome, with the songs being both short and well-crafted.
Tracks like “Fraction,” “Above The Sun” and “Hang Man” bristle with energy and excitement. Vocalist Ann-Sofie Hoyles, resplendent in a small shiny cloak, commands the stage admirably, getting the audience going and showing excellent skills on her harmonica as well. John Hoyles‘ guitar playing incorporates all the licks of ’70s guitar greats while adding a splash of his own inventiveness. The rhythm section of Matteo Gambacorta and Ricard Harryson drive the music ahead in a battering ram kind of way that pushes the tracks with a forward momentum. By the end of their set they leave the audience breathless and enthusiastic for more. It would be great if they would come back and headline a tour themselves, as judging by the scurry of feet to buy merchandise at the end of their set, the audience (myself included) want more.The strains of Forest’s “In A Graveyard” announces the entrance of Blood Ceremony to the stage, and tonight they will cast a spell over London. They kick in with a blistering version of “Witchwood” and then go full throttle into the classic “I’m Coming With You.” Alia O’Brien weaves tales of the mysteries of the occult and insights into the witches’ coven. Half of tonight’s material comes from the fantastic new album The Eldritch Dark, including the catchy “Goodbye Gemini,” but there is still room for classics like “My Demon Brother.” The band seem on fire tonight and also seem to be genuinely enjoying themselves as well. Sean Kennedy’s guitar playing moves swiftly between heavy and subtle, Lucas Gadke’s bass is dominant and amazingly tuneful, adding some marvellous underpinning counter melodies to the songs; and Michael Corrillo’s drumming is a tour de force. they start to move as if entranced by spirits from beyond. “Oliver Haddo” (named after a character who represented Aleister Crowley in Somerset Maugham‘s novel The Magician) is dark and malevolent. Alia’s flute dances over tracks whilst her organ playing adds eerie bottom end and atmospheres. “Lord Summerisle” (surely I don’t have to point out the reference to this one) is all folky and adds a different feel and structure to their set. But all too soon the magick dissipates and the set comes to an end.
I’ve seen Blood Ceremony many times and I have to say this is one of the best performances I’ve witnessed from the band, who seem at ease and ready to give the audience a great live experience. If you have not seen them yet I would suggest that you “Come to the Sabbat” and revel in the magic and mystery of the old gods for an evening.