Genre: Black/Death Metal | Label: Sentient Ruin
Location: Vancouver, BC| Listen: Bandcamp
Hailing from Vancouver, BC, Ceremonial Bloodbath are a bestial black/death metal band that formed in 2015. Sentient Ruin has released the band’s debut album this year, and it is without a doubt one of the darkest and downright evil sounding recordings I’ve heard throughout 2020. The band’s previous demo was a mere foreshadowing of what was to come on their full length, as it sounds much more massive and impactful. Considering the personnel in the band, it is no surprise that this group of Canadian scumbags made something so malevolent.
“The Tides of Blood” is a truly bestial take on black/death metal, taking the most extreme elements of both genres and smashing them together. There’s an obvious influence from bands like Blasphemy, Beherit, and Sarcofago with the signature “goat beat” backing simple yet barbaric riffs. “Book of Black Blessings” has a particular Blasphemy sounding riff that is easy to get stuck in your head. Meanwhile, “Hordes of Demons Feeding” incorporates an Autopsy death/doom influence as shown in the intro, adding to the overall sinister vibe of the album. They contrast these more primitive sections with more intricate death metal riffs in the vein of early Deicide, as heard in “Hammer Throne.”
As with many of the other bands featuring members of Ceremonial Bloodbath, they opted to record at Rain City Studios with Jesse Gander. He did an excellent job at creating something that sounds powerful and natural, retaining the chaotic kind of darkness required for this kind of music. The songs here have such a percussive pulse to them, and the way the drums cut through the mix really does it for me. The amount of attack and resonance is satisfying, and there’s still plenty of room for the wall of guitar and bass frequencies which are equally as massive. I can’t praise the production on this record enough.
Out of the ten tracks on this record, three are actually interludes (and in the context of this record’s flow, they work great). Of the seven actual songs, five of them appeared on the band’s demo, so there’s only really two new songs here – the ever so caustic opening track, “Primitive,” and the epic complex slab of death metal “Seven Wells.” The latter features great use of two guitars, with one layering in some finger twisting patterns over top of bestial riffing. This track explores some much needed musicality in its middle section that gives this album that extra bit of breathing room, something catchy to latch onto, before diving into pure savagery once again.
Despite the fact that five of these tracks were on the demo, the improved production and overall tighter performances really enforce that separation between this, proper album, and the demo. “The Tides of Blood” is a little on the long side for bestial black/death metal, as it clocks in at just under 47 minutes, but it breaks itself up well enough with the few interludes and seasoned songwriting. Considering members play in a variety of extreme metal and punk bands such as Massgrave, AHNA (who also put out a crushing LP this year), Grave Infestation, Deathwinds, and Radioactive Vomit, it’s no surprise that they were able to put out something this dark and potent for black/death metal.