Ghost, Blood Ceremony, Ancient VVisdom @ The Middle East in Cambridge, MA on Friday, January 20, 2012.
Ghost (the Swedish metal band who worships Mercyful Fate/King Diamond, and not the Japanese psych collective who pre-dates them by a couple decades) finally landed for their US tour that was responsible for sold-out rooms in every city they booked. Bearing robes, masks and veils to keep themselves anonymous (some clever sleuthing may have revealed the singer's identity, but I'll let you do your own search), the band came out swinging (literally, with one of those smoking contraptions that priests swing about) and sounded fantastic. The vocals are very clean for a metal band (without the King Diamond falsetto), and while it could come off as campy, the band has plenty of crunch and dynamics to dispel that notion. A off-kilter Beatles cover was an inspired choice, and the masked ghouls kept the crowd eating out of their gloved hands the entire night.
Blood Ceremony are a band whose singer plays a flute from time to time, and that usually marks them for banishment to the Jethro Tull ghetto, full of English whimsy, full beards, and pointy codpieces. But people who make that brash decision are the ones are who are unfamiliar with their pre-Aqualung work, and also clueless to the fact that none other than riff god supreme Tony Iommi was in the band for a few weeks. And Blood Ceremony brings plenty of primal riffage to their mix, especially on key tracks such as "My Demon Brother" and the epic Crowley tale of "Oliver Haddo."
Ancient VVisdom (yes, that's two capital Vs making a W, and it's pronounced like you'd expect, and not in a Germanic accent) were an odd bunch; half of them looked like they were ready for black metal band audition, while one looked like a lost folkie, and the singer/drummer may be able to find work as a Will Ferrell stand-in. They also had enough antlers and skulls strewn about the stage to assemble a small herd of ungulates. Their sound was more akin to dark folk tunes sung under a crescent moon, not the amp-melting assault expected from a band who's guitar choice is a BC Rich.