By Blood Alone - Seas of Blood
Jericho Hill Records
Progressive Gothic Metal/Rock
8 songs (50'19")
Release year: 2007
By Blood Alone
Reviewed by Alex
Surprise of the month

As the one being in charge of running a small business, I know it full well about trying to present your product/materials to many a customer. Persistence and follow-up is absolutely essential if you want your name to become known. Being an unsigned metal band – you have to do many of the same things, like pushing no-good deadbeat reviewers to give your band a fair shake. So I was glad when By Blood Alone guitarist John Graveside (here is an appropriate last name for a metal artist) reminded me about the package he sent. Knowing how it hurts when people simply flush your hard work without even giving it a chance, I have gone back and given Seas of Blood several more listens, as the few first less attentive tries did not hook me as much.

Perhaps it was the word “gothic” which set out some preconceived notions and expectations. By Blood Alone, hailing from Portland, Maine, is anything but a young band taken up by the Evanescence popularity or the images of Epica on their US jaunt with Kamelot. There is something in this band which transcends the genre, blending in the elements from many walks of music, some even less metal than others, that makes By Blood Alone difficult to categorize, and also demands extra attention to fully appreciate.

Metal vs. rock debate aside, I found Seas of Blood to lean largely on John Graveside’s guitar, be it the warbling riff and mid-Eastern bazaar solo of the epic opener Serpentarius, up tempo Iron Maiden gallop of Wants Me Dead, heavy thrashing on Deny Yourself or Celtic flavored Nidhogg. The difference between By Blood Alone and some other more progressive leaning bands is that By Blood Alone does not pack a dozen of different riffs into one composition. Instead, their focus on songwriting tends to be on parts fitting together, flowing along seamlessly, as well as catchy choruses, without turning them entirely into a bowl of sap. Jenny Williamson on keyboards helps with both “gothic” and “catchiness” notions a great deal, but does not overwhelm and does not detract. If in Serpentarius she is responsible for a main chorus melody, then the title track sees almost a sensual interplay between keyboards and guitars.

It is difficult to imagine the vocals in By Blood Alone to be handled not by a female, especially after you heard the album for a few times. Cruella certainly leads the way and does put a full imprint onto the band with her songs, lyrics and, most importantly, vocal approach. Without straining she can take high notes and sound anywhere from boyish to sultry and charming (Serpentarius), but at times can come off a little odd, shifting into her own tune plane, away from the rest of the music (Wants Me Dead).

Seas of Blood certainly does not fall in a rut, demonstrating a wide variety of songs. Serpentarius and Wants Me Dead are a quick one-two opening punch, Nidhogg is a Cruachan-styled rocking groove, and Deny Yourself (an older song, I have done research) ending with a classical music inspired gothic grand finale with over the top orchestration. To diversify even further the band includes a couple of piano driven interludes, a tongue-in-cheek humor Little Lady Lillit and a little Halloweeny cartoonish Undead Friend, which is saved by a great waltz towards the end. All in all, I caught my attention skipping away only with Lovely Lies. Not that the album could not have been further improved. Along with bigger than life melodies (Seas of Blood), others materialize as way too poppy (Wants Me Dead). Jack Doran can bring his bass, evidence the basslines taking on the life of their own in the title track or pulsating Nidhogg, so the production can certainly stand some more bottom end to make him further audible.

Not after the cheap laurels of Euro gothic metal, By Blood Alone instead chooses its own two feet to stand on. Striving for professional appearance, the album comes in a digipack with a beautiful cover art by the Dutch 17th century painter, capturing violent power of the sea. Major record labels would do well to take a look into By Blood Alone direction, and hopefully they will bring some further needed polish without morphing the band into a faceless ocean of many other popular artists.

Killing Songs :
Serpentarius, Nidhogg
Alex quoted 77 / 100
Other albums by By Blood Alone that we have reviewed:
By Blood Alone - Thunderbirds reviewed by Alex and quoted 78 / 100
By Blood Alone - Eternally (EP) reviewed by Ken and quoted 90 / 100
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