Featuring the brothers Jeff and Jason Longo, the London death metallers were formed in 1993 and cut their teeth on the underground circuit playing with the likes of Enemy Soil, Cryptopsy, Hemdale, Oppressor as well as many local London bands.
The band released demos like Divine Requiem (1994), Frozen Dreams (which sold over 400 copies - also 1994), The Lonely Flowers Of Autumn (recorded September 24-16, 1995) and obtained a deal with America's Pulverizer Records which in turn licensed the album to Denmark's Diehard. The mother label's bankruptcy and an unsuccessful co-operation with Italy's Torture Records in 1996, intended to produce an EP, set the band back.
However, 2001 saw the band signed to Canada's Skyscraper Music. The band's second album, while recorded in late 2000, finally was released in Canada in August of 2002. Idasz debuted on As The Rain Gently Falls, but was soon out. Following the departure of its vocalist in 2003, Blood Of Christ began seeking a bassist to replace Dan Hulse who had moved on to the microphone. The Canadians started recording a new album called Breeding Chaos in the spring of 2003. The album featured Dan Hulse on the microphone and was also engineered by the man. The band took time out of the recording sessions to play with bands like Moonspell and Cradle Of Filth. Drummer Jason longo quit the band in the summer of 2004 and hence stopping the recording of a fourth album. The band's appearance at the Ottawa Death Festival was also cancelled. The Canadians recruited bassist Shane LeBanc and drummer Trevor Brook-Allred. Blood Of Christ threw in the towel in late 2006. The members were to reunite in London for a new band. Soon the former members reformed in a band called Autumn 1971. Jeff and Jason Longo, and singer Jason Deaville, recorded a demo called The Last Leaf. HEAVEN ABLAZE also recruited drummer Jason Longo to its ranks in the summer of 2009.
BOC began as a death metal band, but added other elements to their music over the years calling itself Purveyors Of Epic Dark Metal.
THE BLOOD OF CHRIST - THE LONELY FLOWERS OF AUTUMN
Being familiar with the band since its ’94 demo, I knew them to be one that strives for utter heaviness. But even being aware of a departing member hadn’t readied me for this change in style. Introducing stronger evil leanings (though not as badly or blatantly as Sarcophagus) as well as some melody, the Londoners have produced an intricate tape which certainly proves that time was spent on composition. Many riffs don’t recur and the band displays talent in its black/death mix, although it does not lean enough in any one direction, which may be a problem for the fans of either genre. Then, for example, the proficient solos and picking on In The Distance are shattered by an awfully pots 'n' panish-sounding snare sound. Then the powerful growls are watered down by unimpressive chants. Thankfully, negatives are kept to a minimum probably by the band’s good sense to not over-do the avant-garde nonsense. If The Blood Of Christ keeps the ability to compose intricate yet flowing material, retain the brutality, lose the occasional trendy synthesizers and normal vocals which they have newly acquired then they are surely on their way. Contact: The Blood Of Christ, 27 Century Place, London, Canada N6H 4W9. - Ali “The Metallian”
BLOOD OF CHRIST - A DREAM TO REMEMBER - PULVERIZER/DIEHARD
Due to a lack of space, the review of London’s Blood Of Christ is a short one. The cover is a gothic or atmospheric pretender while the band photo depicts a band striving for the Pyrexia Image (read: long hair-free zone) and while the band seems to have some of both in its blood it is mostly real death metal at work here. A song like As The Roses Wither may brutalize heavily, but then singer Conan waters things down with a monkish harmony of sorts. It is like precious, strong potion that is good for the body mostly; which sadly has been mixed with water. Still this is 80% effective. - Ali "The Metallian"
BLOOD OF CHRIST - AS THE RAIN GENTLY FALLS - SKYSCRAPER
As The Rain Gently Falls, subtitled Anthology II, is (you guessed it) Blood Of Christ's second album and their first in five years. This is clearly deplorable for, as we are about to see, the band and album are deserving of a wider audience. The Canadian foursome are a tight and accomplished band. The good sound - a feat given the band's complex arrangements - helps the band get its nuances across. This is a must for a band which is both aurally and psychologically complex.
Alternately blasting, alternately piling on the swirling emotion and acoustic guitars, it is obvious early on that Sorcery-era Kataklysm and Cryptopsy are major sources of influences for Blood Of Christ. When the drummer launches into one of his many blasts, it's like a rocket launching into nevermore - this despite the very annoying and light sound assigned the snare. The many guitar overdubs are luscious and the bass sound simply delicious. Having said that the quartet is not one to sit on its laurels and has gone out of its way to interfuse emotional elements into the fray. The band probably harbours illusions of poetic grandeur and gothic pomposity. Be that as it may, the elements exist and are done with the great care.
The vocals are mostly grating as befits the style. Although on a song like the title track or Discovering ...Another Tragedy all bets are off and the singer moans as if Norway's worst have emigrated to Canada. In fact the song has more to do with Bauhaus' Dark Ages than death metal. Elsewhere the album features two instrumentals, which like the aforementioned mix heaviness and feeling or many powerful and effective riffs like the one dominating The Swamp Song. As The Rain Gently Falls is in fact a Canadian torrent and despite the pompous nonessentials an essential album.
Five years is a long time for a band to endure without a release. In fact, without fan and label support, many bands would wither and perish in that length of a time. It is not so with Blood Of Christ. As we are about to see, the Canadian quartet is alive and well. With the release of its second album, entitled As The Rain Gently Falls, the group is poised for a period of rejuvenation. Guitarist Jeff Longo, who along with his brother Jason Longo (drums), Dan Hulse (bass) and Conan Bulani (vocals), comprises the quartet places a call into Metallian Towers to discuss the new album, the new line-up, the new record company and outline the band's plans and hopes for the future - 18.08.2002
'It's kinda hard to give a brief history as we have been together for eight years,' begins the amicable guitarist by way of introducing the band. 'We started in very early 1994 and the only two original members are myself and my brother Jason. Conan Bulani is the singer on both the new album and our debut ...A Dream To Remember which was on Pulverizer Records and licensed to Diehard for Europe. Bassist Dan Hulse is our newest member. He replaces Greg Idasz who played on the album. The relationship with Pulverizer fell through. We hooked up with Skyscraper and that's where we are now.'
New Blood flows within the band. 'First of all Greg Idasz is on bass on As The Rain Gently Falls,' clarifies the guitarist. 'He had actually become our singer for a while in 1999 when Conan, due to personal issues, had for a brief period quit the band. Now Conan is back in the band, but Greg has quit. He had a lot of personal matters going on outside the band. He left school, quit his jobs, broke up with his girlfriend and actually moved to Alberta! That meant we had to find a new bass player. That actually took over a year and for a long time we did not play live. Our first live appearance in over a year is this Friday. It was very hard finding a new bass player as it seems there is a lack of dedicated and professional musicians in Ontario. Ninety percent of bass players we tried out either could not do it or didn't have the right attitude. Nothing clicked. Actually very recently, two months ago, I got an email from Dan Hulse asking if we were looking for someone. I told him we are. He came out, we rehearsed and that's it. Everything clicks really well, we get along and it's working out. He used to be in a band called Eschatus and also studied recording and music engineering before joining Blood Of Christ. Eschatus has a demo and they played several shows around London, Ontario. He had moved to Toronto and left his band. That's when he approached us.'
The guitarist sounds almost relieved. Then again it is understandable given the release of a new album and the activities which will inevitably ensue. Although we are jumping ahead of ourselves as there is still the matter of expounding on the band's debut ...A Dream To Remember. Seems Longo believes that the album's European licensee Diehard was the best thing that happened to that release. 'Yes, I think they did nothing but good stuff for us.' The guitarist is emphatic. 'They printed many copies. They did a lot of promotion for us and got us exposure that we normally wouldn't have gotten as just a regular demo band for example. I could do a lot of tape trading and mailing, but that is time-wise and financially very consuming. They got our albums into stores everywhere including Singapore and Japan. We have that to thank them for.'
For some reason the cover of the European release was different than the American version. Longo explains. 'That's something that I am so angry about to this day. Diehard didn't consult with me about that. They wanted to have alternate artwork and I didn't want that as I loved the original version's cover. They just asked Randy of Pulverizer Records if they could do that without consulting us and went ahead.
They wanted it to look like a different edition, but there were no bonus tracks or anything so I didn't see the purpose of a different cover. I loved the original cover anyway. The cover they used was the demo cover which made it confusing.'
Soon after Pulverizer Records closed its doors.'We got the shaft. Pulverizer Records did an Excellent job at first, but then owner Randy disappeared with the money that he owed all the bands. He owes Dying Fetus, Fleshgrind and whoever else was on the label. He screwed everybody over. I don't know if those bands are mad (to this day), but for me it's now been a couple of years and there's no point in wasting your energy and your time. You move on. Hopefully something good comes out of it for this band and without people like that.'
The guitarist comes across as both and patient and philosophical. A good time to wonder why the current album has been delayed for so long. For there were reports regarding As The Rain Gently Falls as early as 2000. 'You are sort of right,' remarks Longo in a voice which sounds pensive.'The recording for the new album did begin in 2000. Most of the music and part of the vocals was done then. Later in 2001 we redid the vocals and fixed some of the music. Then we went and remixed the album with Jean Francois Dagenais of Kataklysm.'
The band had signed with Montreal-based Skyscraper Music. As most fans know, and as the preceding paragraphs make clear, signing with a label is a lengthy process. Narrates Longo, 'We signed with Skyscraper Music last year. The album was due last year as well, but negotiating takes time. You have to check your options, you have to make sure what you are doing is the best for you... basically it just takes time.
We were dealing with Skyscraper and Maelstrom Music Group also of Montreal. Those are the labels from which I actually have contracts. We chose Skyscraper and have signed for two albums.'
Still, and on the subject of record companies, seeing how Pulverizer Records failed to fulfill your aspirations, how do you view your current position? 'I agree with you, ' asserts the guitarist seemingly knowing where the question is leading.'In the long run you need money to keep the band going - especially if you start to do it full-time. When you are young, as we were with the first album, it's important to get exposure, play concerts, have a good time and see how it goes. The more professional you get, the more talented you get, as your skills improve and hopefully the band gains momentum and a wider fan base then it will take more time and becomes more important for the band to gain financially. The band needs to stay afloat.'
At which stage is Blood Of Christ? 'I would call it amateur,' he replies without missing a beat.'I can relate it directly to hockey. If there is an OHL (Ontario Hockey League) and an NHL (National Hockey League), (then) we are in the OHL. I also think we have the potential to break into the NHL. We are about to take a very big step. We are going on a full Canadian tour in September with Necronomicon and Kataklysm. That is taking a step towards the bigger picture. If we can be successful on that tour then, hopefully, more tours will fall into place. If we get a good response from the crowd then we have an opportunity.'
Speaking of opportunity, one wonders whether As The Rain Gently Falls is seeing release beyond Canada. The band and label are taking things one step at a time though. 'Right now PHD distribution is taking the album to USA and South America. There will hopefully be a European license as well.
So far Skyscraper is doing well I think. Many radio stations have the album. You have the album, as an example, which means the label is sending out promotional copies. Skyscraper Music has gotten us onto the tour with Kataklysm and Necronomicon. I think they are doing an excellent job.'
Having talked around the album and filled the many gaps surrounding Blood Of Christ it is time to directly address As The Rain Gently Falls. Jeff, there is much on the album that is patented Blood Of Christ. These elements exist next to others which are reminiscent of early Kataklysm and Cryptopsy on the one hand and more romantic and poetic instances on the other. 'I think you are right,' takes up Longo not disagreeing. 'but I don't think we do it consciously. When I play music I see the dark aspects of music. I think it just comes from our hearts. That's just the way we are. When a person writes music, he is letting you hear his... soul - if you want to call it that. You are hearing what people feel. You are hearing their energy. Whatever you hear in the album, the influences you just mentioned, those are what we feel.
'I also do agree with you about the influences. Early Kataklysm and Cryptopsy are influences especially of when we started this band. Those band, in particular, as well Carcass, Morbid Angel and Napalm Death were influences. However the first two bands were big influences and because of our admiration for those bands we got the Canadian sound as well.'
Aside from the influences Longo also has a story to relate about how the album's production was achieved. 'The mix is a little bit muddy,' begins Longo and in the process contradicting my impression.'When I was writing this album I wanted the music to sound underground, dark and almost like you are in a swamp or a very dark place. I tuned the guitars very low to a G Sharp which is ridiculous actually. Overall the album is dark and underground-sounding I think. The mix was done in one weekend and over a period of 48 hours. That is crazy and we were half asleep. I think Dagenais did an amazing job because there was a lot of transition. We recorded the album at one studio, then we transferred it from one tape to another kind of tape, then transferred it to the Soundscape mixing suite. That is far too many transfers. There should be one at the most. As a result we encountered many problems during the mix. Furthermore not the best quality microphones were used on the original recording. I am happy with it, but I am also very picky. I strive for perfection. The latest Morbid Angel album Gateway to Annihilation is a standard for me. I am not one hundred percent happy with our sound, but am glad that you think it sounds good.'
While the band is an extreme entity, as mentioned the more sombre elements are not to be forgotten. Longo puts the juxtaposition into context for us readily. 'I think that's a perfect description of our music. That is what we do. I think of my music and writing process... an analogy would be how when I was young kid I used to play with Lego blocks and built things. You know, putting one block on top of the other and another and eventually you build a house or something. It's the same for me with songs. I think of songs as very riff-based. I have many riffs and I put them together. I try to make them feel right as opposed to analyzing and asking should this go here and should that go there. I think the biggest reason for our tempo and time changes is our drummer Jason. He is the one who puts the beats into the music. I will come into the rehearsal with a complete song, but it is just guitars. He then selects the beats he wants to play over the riffs. So if there is a slow beat and we juxtapose it, as you called it, to a blast beat that is because of Jason.'
In this context let us mention a couple of the songs. The song Discovering ...Another Tragedy begins with a spoken German sample. 'That is a sample from the movie Das Boot and the movie Stalingrad. Those are two of my favourite movies,'explains Longo. 'I am very interested in German military, the World Wars and stuff like that.
I will clear this right away,' adds the guitarist seemingly intent on justifying what should not need defense.' It's not anti-semetic. We are very open-minded people and do not judge or have prejudices. We are not Nazis or racists. My fascination with the German military is exactly that: military. I am obsessed with U-boots, but not the anti-semetic issues that went on with it.'
So you are more Lemmy and less David Vincent. 'Right, David Vincent had issues and was very white power-oriented. The song, though, is about a man who falls in love with a girl who is wonderful and it is a tragedy. I believe that women, not every woman,... but love is something only in your mind. I think it's lust in disguise. I think women, because of their biology, it's in their nature to find as many mates as possible. It often ends up with the guy being crushed. That is what that song is about. In the movie Stalingrad the guy talks about his wife back home in Germany and he is really sad. He is telling his friend that he's come to fight for his country doing his duty and back home in Germany his wife is cheating on him. She is telling him in the letter that she's leaving him for another guy. That struck me as sad. It just fit with the theme of the song. The sample from Das Boot talks about how they were supposed to be big heroes, but the English were destroying them at sea. He is telling his superior how life is not what it's cracked up to be. He says he is sorry and then it goes into the song.'
Discovering ...Another Tragedy and the song which follows it, namely the title track, feature odd and chanting vocalizing. 'I understand what you are saying,' he says laughing.' We are open-minded people and I think we don't want to paint ourselves into a corner. I write any riff that comes from my heart. If I think a certain vocal style is suitable for it then it should be there. I think if the title track had 'death metal vocals' the song would have been ruined as it's a dark and sad song. It needed the droning, gloomy and depressive vocals. You might expect more (of the vocal style), you might not. We don't plan things like that.'
The Swamp Song has a very effective riff. 'The one with that kind of Korn type of beat?' asks the guitarists and in the process making me doubt the sanity of my previous comment! 'Again it wasn't planned. It was a riff that I came up with. My brother and I were rehearsing and we liked what we were doing. So we kept it.'
Speaking of The Swamp Song, why does the album feature two instrumentals in the form of the aforementioned track and Seasonal Drift? 'It just happened,' the voice at the other end of the line recalls.'The Swamp Song is Jason's idea. Seasonal Drift also happened that way. We are not opposed to having instrumentals, just like we are not opposed to having vocals as well. These are not songs we are likely to play live, even though we used to open with The Swamp Song.'
Everything the guitarist says is designed to impress upon the outside world how Blood Of Christ will not be pigeonholed. Be that as it may what does that tell a potential fan or a potential customer facing a band's album at a record store. 'I think we always have very good energy,' relates the guitar player quickly.'You can't always know what to expect, but we are not going to do a Country and Western album all of a sudden. It's still going to be heavy and death metal. Those elements are always going to be there. We aim to be creative and diverse and have fun with our music.'
Seeing the complex nature of Blood Of Christ's music one wonders how often the band practices. ' Four days a week as a full band,' replies the guitar player confirming one's suspicion. He adds, 'That is without vocals. Conan lives in London and comes up a couple of times a month. The rest of us rehearse about four days a week. Of course, I practice my guitar by myself seven days a week.'
The Longo brothers were also London-based and have now moved to just outside Toronto. Explains Jeff, 'Yes, I am very happy to be out of London to be honest with you. It was a miserable period of my life. The people there are very conservative and snobby. The majority is not open-minded. There are good people there don't get me wrong, but I find that you can't be an individual in that city and if you are not what they want you to be then they make your life miserable. The main reason for our moving; however, was that our parents moved and we followed them.'
As previously mentioned the band's imminent plan, among other things, is playing live. Already confirmed are a series of independent shows, an opening slot for Destruction and Kreator and a Canadian tour. To gain fans on stage, a band presumably needs to put on a 'show'. While not recently, this writer has seen Blood Of Christ live several times and come away underwhelmed by the stage presence. So, how important is the live performance to the band? Longo is earnest.' I appreciate your comments. To this day I am nervous on stage. I also don't think it's my job to move around on stage. I want to make the performance and my guitar playing as tight as possible. If the crowd enjoys it, then they will move around themselves. The main reason is that I have to remain near my foot switch. I use the foot switch a lot. There is a lot of time changes and a lot of riffs in the songs. I do agree with you that we don't move around a lot and you can trust me that it has been pointed out to us by our friends. We are a little bit more comfortable with the band now and feel we have a lot more energy so I am pretty sure we will give a good performance.'
As The Rain Gently Falls is now out. For more information please visit www.thebloodofchrist.com.