Blood CTwo of the finest bands of their ilk Blood Ceremony and Jex Thoth are both poised on releasing new albums within a couple of weeks of each other so if you are a fan of female fronted, occult doom you are going to have a  lot to look forward to. Of course there seems to be a sudden influx of group’s spreading out from the coven that first saw this sort of style but there seems to be room for them all and the ancient resurrected trend has not dried up at all yet. Still Alia O’Brien’s Canadian clan with their third album has to be one of the most anticipated releases for some time.

It has not disappointed here in the slightest with the magical musical alchemy spreading its spell through me on repeated plays making it a practically essential companion of late. A classic sounding guitar line that reminds a fair bit of the Devil’s Blood (RIP) opens it before swathes of retro sounding Hammond entrances on opener Wytchwood. Hippy sounding licks take us straight off to the flower generation as Alia’s enchanting tones unravel a tale of blackest magic. Goblinesque horror parts infect the song and it moves at a rapid pace twisting and turning before just as you have forgotten the other facet that this band excel at the sudden Tullish trill of the flute swaggers in and captivates. This song has pretty much everything one could want,  even the title reeks of arcane intrigue before it finally finishes with a ghostly sample from, if I’m not mistaken, The Great Beast Mr Crowley himself. ‘Goodbye Gemini’ allows drummer Michael Carrillo to have a rigorous work out but everything here leads to the melody of the chorus which is so strong once heard it will be hummed along for weeks to come. There’s a sweet and sugary feel about this one but an underlying edge suggesting that all innocence is soon going to be lost.

Lord Summerisle takes a very different slant and could even have fitted on the soundtrack to The Wicker Man. It’s a folk etched ballad with (un-credited) male vocals taking the lead with Alia in backing mode for a change. ‘Ballad Of The Weird Sisters gets a groove back in and some violin making it sound like a slice of countrified Americana (maybe the Canadian equivalent) played at a folk convention somewhere in the back woods of nowhere. Quirky organ work plays around with a bouncy psyche melody for the title track which grooves on down and shakes a flare clad leg around the mirror balled dance floor before the swaying slow burn of the delightful ‘Drawing Down The Moon’ takes hold. ‘Faunus’ is a short instrumental which is incredibly jaunty and really allows Alia’s flute playing prowess to shine through. It is left for The Magician to conjure up the concluding piece and this he does with a melody that reminded a little of ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’ before getting its prog hooks in and giving us a sequel to last albums Oliver Haddo as it builds to a delirious baroque finale.

The Eldritch Dark is a classic sounding album in every sense of the word and like all classics it has made a mark that should stand up to time in the future even if style wise it is one that looks very much back to the past. Speaking of marks….

(8.5/10 Pete Woods)