Ode_and_elegy Ode_and_elegy

Ode and Elegy - Ode and Elegy


Ten years ago, members of The Pax Cecilia started a seemingly clandestine project, one we have only seen glimpses of throughout the years, but now it’s finally here. I present to you – Ode and Elegy!

It’s been nearly 18 years since The Pax Cecilia released their eclectic debut, Nouveau (A Theater of the Air) (2014), combining seemingly diametrically opposing subgenres like post-hardcore, screamo, post-metal, neoclassical, and chamber folk. At the time, the emo movement had hit the mainstream, and while many bands of the scene had implemented more ’abrasive’ elements of post-hardcore into their music, they were still accessible enough to get airtime on the radio. While The Pax Cecilia may not have been part of the scene, they still operated on the fringes of it (no pun intended). It’s essentially how I got into the band when I stopped riding the emo wave in favor of post-rock/post-metal in the mid-to-late ‘00s, though primarily through their sophomore release, ’Blessed Are the Bonds’ (2007).

At the time, I had also started exploring ‘real screamo’, or ‘skramz’, most of which had their heyday back in the mid-to-late ‘90s, like Orchid, Jeromes Dream, Indian Summer and Pg.99, but given my predilection for atmospheric music, I inevitably gravitated towards a couple of bands with a certain affinity for merging the skramz with sprawling soundscapes, like City of Caterpillar, Funeral Diner, and envy, the latter of which served as the definitive bridge between the two realms, a gap that The Pax Cecilia also bridged with their two studio albums.

Following the release of Blessed Are the Bonds, The Pax Cecilia eventually went into a suspended state, save for the release of the ’Mythos Fragments’ (2014), comprising previously unreleased tracks, as well as compositions made by Kent Fairman Wilson of the band, for a choreographed performance piece called ’Bread and Wine’ (2012). For the next 10 years, updates were few and far between. In November, 2016, they posted a teaser video on Facebook, followed by a photo the next year where we could first see the words ’Ode and Elegy’, the moniker under which it was eventually released on February 1, 2022, which also served as the eponymous 55-minute long title track.

Yes, you read that right. One track. Fifty-five minutes. For someone who almost exclusively listens to releases from ‘cover-to-cover’, this isn’t at all problematic for me, but I know a lot of people out there will struggle to get through this in one sitting, but it’s definitely worth it if you can. For a review about Ode and Elegy, I sure talk a lot about The Pax Cecilia, but they are intrinsically linked and to understand the former, we need to understand the latter. From the beginning, they’ve always been very theatrical and poetic in nature, and can, in a way, be seen as dramatic plays. I’ve never been one for theater or musicals, but I do appreciate opera in a live setting, and if someone were to actually adapt these three albums into stage plays, I feel like they would work very well.

Where Nouveau (A Theater of the Air) had an almost visceral and caustic beauty to it, Blessed Are the Bonds had considerably more weight behind it, albeit still beautiful, combining elements of chamber folk and neoclassical with post-metal. They’re essentially in a genre of their own, one I felt like the world wasn’t ready for back in the ‘00s, which brings us to the namesake of this review.

Ode and Elegy is the grand culmination of a decade-long project of gargantuan proportions, one that spans continents and involves several dozens of musicians, resulting in a truly epic play you can fully immerse yourself in if you’re willing to commit. These compositions are genuinely deep, intricate, and beautiful, second only to their masterful execution of them. The layering and combination of strings, brass, and choir with chamber folk and doom metal is exquisite. So please – Do yourself a favor and take your time with this. It deserves an ode in itself, and I can only hope that the elegy isn’t self-referential. The world needs more of this.

As always with The Pax Cecilia, Ode and Elegy is available for free by visiting their website, or on CD, also for free, just pay for the shipping!