Assignment: Review album by the Pax Cecilia, a band falling somewhere under the ‘metal’ genre’s umbrella, of which I am increasingly realizing I know little about, and have few bands to confidently reference for sonic comparisons.
Idea: Use lots of adjectives and descriptive words to talk about the sound when I cannot simply say ‘this song sounds like such-and-such other metal-ish band.’
Possible descriptive words to use when talking about the Pax Cecilia: heavy, delicate, powerful, ambient, orchestral, progressive, icy, talented, long-winded, abrasive, haunting, free, etc. I’m sure I’ll come up with more as I get writing.
Blessed Are the Bonds, the second album from the Pax Cecilia, plays like one long piece, a deservedly long-winded album with eight connected songs. It starts rather calm with haunting piano and strings utilizing pizzicato and bows during “The Tragedy.” At quite a few moments during the first two tracks, more hard rock than metal, I was reminded of a heavier Murder by Death, with all the piano and strings in minor keys.
Though they give you a few tastes, the band makes you sweat for 20 minutes before letting you hear them at their most powerful -- a couple minutes into the third track “The Progress” -- when they pound you with intensely strummed guitars and fierce and abrasive screaming, and later on shrieking synth lines. “The Machine” is another heavy track pulsing with a cool upbeat rhythm synced up between guitar and drums.
“The Wasteland” brings things back down and sounds exactly like its title, with ambient wind sounds, sustained and infrequent piano chords and spooky unintelligible vocals. “The Water Song,” a roller coaster in itself at 12 and a half minutes of up-and-down dynamics, is for the majority quiet and instrumental, with more piano, gorgeous violin, and smooth female vocals towards the end. The album ends with “The Hymn,” another appropriately titled track with somber wordless vocals and delicately plucked guitar.
Also of note is that the band is offering this album free or with a donation to anyone who gives them their mailing address. They dropped this album long before Radiohead made headlines (April), and unlike Radiohead, with these guys you get a tangible CD with unique artwork and packaging. Not to make this into an ad, but I think that’s cool of them. The fact that this album is self-released is also a marvel because it sounds incredible and no doubt took these talented guys a loooong time to create.
Though metal is not my typical choice to rock out to or (as someone will likely post) even within my scope as a helpful critic, I must give much respect to the band. The breadth of textures and moods this album covers are astounding, and if you could call this metal at all, the subdued sections surely outnumber the heavy rock sections. If you are at all interested and if my mounds of descriptive words were any help, why not send the band a few bucks and hear it in its entirety? It’s really the only way to hear it.