Book of Shadows – “Ritual of Joy” (Reverb Worship 2013, RW 228)

Austin, Texas based Book of Shadows always have a fluid lineup, sometimes consisting of up to 5 -6 members, though always including founders Carlton and Sharon Crutcher. Their latest album, Ritual of Joy, was recorded in a single day by the quartet of Carlton on keyboards, Sharon on vocals, Douglas Ferguson on guitar and modular synthesizer, and Steve Marsh on guitar and electronics.

I like the dual guitars on the 25 minute Stone People. Searing, droning, wildly pulsating and fluttering, harsh Industrial acid-noise Psych, gently melodic… the guitars are dramatic theme builders, led by Sharon’s trademark “vocalizations”, which reach banshee levels of intensity. And Carlton colors and supports with electronics that are alien and atmospheric, but also coldly machine-like, laying down single toned noisy drone lines that oscillate ever so slightly and unnervingly. The title track is a relatively short but beautiful mood piece, with spacious, meditative atmospherics, slowly soloing guitars and light vocals. New Abilities starts off with a nifty combination of chanting witchy vocals, fun and freaky sci-fi electronics, and warbling acid-noise and melodic guitars. Around the 7 minute mark the music eases into a ghostly, rumbling bowels-of-the-spacecraft segment with Space Ritual electronics and some of the trippiest guitars of the set. And the 20 minute Purification is an Avant-Psychedelic sound exploration, with some of the most varied and interesting electronics of the set. Near the 12 minute mark the guitars start cranking out chunky Metal chords, then shift to Hendrix style hard Psych, all of which sounds great combined with Sharon’s wails and the space electronics. This would make a great soundtrack. To what, I don’t know, but it’s got a powerful narrative feel.

Note that Ritual of Joy is a limited numbered edition of only 50 copies.

For more information, visit the Reverb Worship web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

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