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The Pax Cecilia

Experimental/Post Metal

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The Pax Cecilia Blessed Are The Bonds album cover
4.06 | 44 ratings | 12 reviews | 34% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2007

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Tragedy (10:14)
2. The Tomb Song (7:19)
3. The Progress (6:39)
4. The Machine (3:35)
5. The Wasteland (4:32)
6. The Water Song (12:37)
7. The Tree (8:53)
8. The Hymn (6:20)

Total Time: 60:07

Line-up / Musicians

- Daniel James / guitar, flute, vocals
- Slade Lellock / guitars
- Kent Fairman Wilson / piano, cello, vocals
- John Feustel / bass, vocals
- Greg Austin / percussion

- D. James Goodwin / vocals
- Harold Harlo Taddy / vocals
- Dutch Pearce / vocals
- Emma Maatman / vocals
- Justin Dudley / vocals
- Amylynn Weiland / vocals
- William James / trombone
The Canzonetta Trio:
- Giovanni Crooks / strings
- Kristin Sambolin / strings
- Siobhan Fleming / strings

Note : The actual instrumentation could not be fully confirmed at this moment

Releases information

CD self-released (2007, US)

Thanks to avestin for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy THE PAX CECILIA Blessed Are The Bonds Music

THE PAX CECILIA Blessed Are The Bonds ratings distribution

(44 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(34%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (14%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

THE PAX CECILIA Blessed Are The Bonds reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by chamberry
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The Pax Cecilia is one of this year's great surprises. I stumbled across them in early June when I was searching for a new band to check out. I was reading a review of their latest album, "Blessed Are The Bonds", when I stumbled upon a sentence that quickly caught my attention: "They're giving it for free". I didn't even think twice about it and quickly send them an email requesting the album. It arrived weeks later and what a wonderful album this is. Who would've thought a free album would be this good?!

The Pax Cecilia's music is a combination of many different elements. They seem to have many influences in their music, but when you try to put them in a box labeled with X or Y genre it'll most likely stick out like a sore thumb. The addition of classical instruments like the piano, strings and trombone are given the same attention as the rock instruments and in many cases they are more dominant than the actual rock instrumentation (specially the piano). In other words, they sound like a single entity instead of the classical instruments sounding like an extension of the band. This tactic gives the band a more theatrical sound that fits perfectly with the story telling. (I'm not quite sure what is it about, but it does sound interesting)

The music on this album is focused more in the atmosphere and emotions rather than complexity. Most of the complex moments on this album are well fitted with the band's heavier and aggressive nature which isn't very dominant on this album to begin with. Their sound is divided into two different musical spectrums: delicate and rough. As previously mentioned, the rough and aggressive side of the band isn't very dominant and it's mainly showed in "The Progress" and in "The Machine". The rest of the album is dominated by their delicate side that sounds symphonic, fine and very emotional. The vocalist does a great job adapting its sound to the different atmospheres in the album. The only difference is the last song on the album, "The Hymn" which is more rooted in folk music than anything. There are also songs that fall between the delicate and rough nature of the band and end up being the high points in the album (like "The Tree").

All in all, "Blessed Are The Bonds" is a magnificent album that manages to be unique while not sacrificing the overall quality of the music. The closest band I could think of that's similar to The Pax Cecilia is maudlin of the Well, but there's still a gap between their sounds. If you're looking for a refreshing sound that's punchy as well as delicate while still being emotional then "Blessed Are The Bonds" by The Pax Cecilia is the album for you and it's free so there's nothing to loose. Try it.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars What an impressive piece of post-metal or music under any tag you wish. No doubt these guys are going to get tired of being compared to Kayo Dot and Maudlin in the Well but I can certainly understand why it's happening. Toby Driver is the closest reference point I have personally to Pax, although Pax is not a clone by any means. They are more animated and active than Kayo, there is more going on, you feel as if there are more possibilities. They are more fun: if Kayo is skiing, then Pax is snowboarding with all the jumps! I don't know how old these guys are but I would guess pretty young, though not because they play immaturely. They play with much control and talent. I guessed they are young simply because you can literally hear and feel the enthusiasm in every track. You can tell they don't think of this as a job, but that they are grateful for the opportunity to express such obvious musical passion. They take nothing for granted here. Listening to this album is an experience, a trip, a pleasant nightmare, an internal maze, a walk down a desolate road at night. And then some.

PA guest reviewer "N Ellingworth" already gave a nice track by track description on this one that I would refer you. I just want to say generally that Pax Cecilia quite masterfully blends a tasty combination of heavy sludgey metal with complex, focused twists and turns. In other words it's not annoyingly static just rolling along like the Blob like some bands I could mention, but quite hilly in nature, always interesting with peaks and valleys. Vocally you have a mixture of quieter pleasant singing and some occasional very harsh screaming, always placed well within the context of the song. There are also many long stretches without vocals which is nice. The playing of the main band members is really excellent on all fronts. Beyond those standard rock instruments lie great textures in ambient sound, piano, violin, trombone, and a group of string musicians. The production and sound is not perfect but it's not bad either.

This is a great album that shows incredible promise and potential. I am dying to hear what they do next. They have a unique business model where they eliminate the record company and practice DIY. But I cringe a bit when I hear people saying that they're giving away their CD for free. It's true they will send it to you without charge but nothing is "free." Make sure you do hit the "donation" button on their site at some point because the success of this model depends on everyone contributing. Even if you can't give much, give them something. It's a very cool model they're trying to use. If we can help promote music not constrained by commercial concerns, we'll get more albums like this! The artwork is really inspired and cool, far better than some of the fancy expensive nonsense that big acts have done for them. They even include a small poster. Congratulations to Pax for what will likely be on many people's best of 2007 list.

Review by Prog-jester
4 stars “And when you sing this song these lovers will dance”

I’ve discovered THE PAX CECILIA through numerous recommendations from both Assaf and Ruben. I never heard these guys recommending lame or average stuff, so I decided to ask for a CD from a band. Yes, they send it for free. Few weeks of wait, and here we go!

First of all, artwork. It’s simply marvelous. Now I know why the band considers that it’s not less important than music itself. Second, instruments and performance. Lots of piano and violins – not what you’re expecting from a Metal album, are you? Third, music. Slow-building long compositions, ranging in moods from classic-inspired pieces to screamo-like ear-violence. No wonder GYBE and maudlin of the Well were used by many to describe TPC’ stuff. That’s wrong, TPC are TPC. Better listen to them on their MySpace page to make your own mind. This is Symphonic Post-Metal, dude, really. Especially closer to the end (most of album’s material is instrumental). Fourth, that track. “The Tree” I mean. It’s possibly the best Post-Metal instrumental piece I ever heard (after PELICAN’s god-like “March into the Sea” ;) ) - sheer brilliance!

Now you got 5 reasons (the fifth is that it’s free!) to get yourself this fantastic album. Can’t see a point in your sitting in front of your PC still. Purchase it now!

Review by ProgBagel
4 stars The Pax Cecilia - Blessed are the Bonds 4.7 stars

Another obscure gem release in 2007, free of charge.

This band is certainly the most interesting one I've come across in 2007. There are many instruments added to the usual guitar, piano, bass and drums. There is an entire strings section and also a trombone. The band implements all these instruments into their music directly rather then throwing them in the background or using them subtly. The artwork for the album is another nice feature, wonderful designs. This might be an interest to many because of the piano. I see a lot of people asking for piano driven music. While this is not keyboard wizardry like Emerson, the piano seems to be at the forefront most, which is why this CD is very special to me. Again, this CD is free a charge, don't hesitate to donate though.

'The Tragedy' is a piano driven piece. It even goes on for about a minute and a half before it is accompanied by vocals and strings. The vocals are also an asset to the music, the singer has a wonderful voice, but doesn't have a huge range. This song has a great buildup that reminds me of GYBE except with a lot more punch in the bass drums. This is a very progressive track with a slow start and finish, but with chaos and beauty in the middle. My favorite song on the album.

'The Tomb Song' starts in a very similar way. The piano sheds some real awesome talent in this one unlike the very obscure arrangement and scales like the prior song. This is a very angry track, the violins play with loud dynamics and the band shouts out their lyrics only added to the chaos. The drummer also starts to get in the spotlight, even further in the next song.

'The Progress' starts off where 'The Tomb Song' left off. This is the first guitar driven track. The guitar is wailing away some nice chunky riffs while the drummer does some nice work, very fast tempo. The song comes to an immediate halt a little after half way through. Followed by another buildup into a laid back drum beat with the vocals at the forefront, almost sounds like it's a monologue. You can tell this band really likes what they are doing, the singer is just pooring the emotion out with every word.

'The Machine' is just like 'The Progress' (starting to understand the pattern?) with the guitar and drums, except it stays that way throughout the whole song. It's really tight rhythmically not just drawn out and subtle like most things you hear in post-rock.

'The Wasteland' is the first ambient track, just featuring the piano that plays some chords once in a while. Obviously this is complimentary to the title of the song.

'The Water Song' sounds just like a GYBE with more metal. The track just sums up everything that has been done into one coherent piece.

'The Tree' is one of my favorite instrumentals now. The beginning has a great folk vibe to it. Getting much louder with the strings right back into place that they few previous tracks lacked. The pattern continues because like 'The Water Song' this track sums up many of the ideas previously displayed on the album.

'The Hymn' is exactly as the title described. Just pretty cool acoustic guitar work with a hymn on top to end this excellent album.

Just pick it up, anyone. There should be no problem getting this album because it is free. It is obviously worth the little time you have to spend giving them an address.

Review by Tristan Mulders
5 stars The Pax Cecilia - Blessed are the Bonds

I knew I was holding something special in my hands right from the start. Several people recommended this album to me for my liking of experimental and alternative music, and seeing that one could order a free copy of the album directly from the band themselves, I would have been a fool not to follow up on this recommendation.

It took some time before I actually received the album, I just moved to England for the time being and the album was delivered to my home address in The Netherlands. It was send over to England, so a few weeks later I had the pleasure of examining this wellcrafted package. The cd comes in a nicely designed digipack with an eye-catching drawing of owls as artwork. It is actually rather simple in that respect, yet rather appealing as well! The CD came with a free fold-out poster, and inside of the digipack the booklet features nicely designed lyrics, which differ in lay-out from page to page, which gives the whole booklet a rather ambitious and arty feel to it.

So the package is approved, on to the music then, shall we?

Before I ordered the album, the only thing I knew about their music was the fact that they were being categorised as experimental metal, but that this term did not do their music right. Well, that sounds interesting, doesn't it? Just way too many influences I was told. So I checked their page out and listened to the song The Tragedy and was mesmerised! This piece of music could be considered to be a rock attempt at a classical music piece, literally seen! Compositionwise the song progresses over its 10-minute length and keeps surprising the listener. Starting off with calmness and ending with a more rockysound, though never really rocking out... That's saved for later on on the album!

Yes, the music is varied, that much is true. It ranges from classical to folk to a trash/hardcore kind of metal to ambience 'music'. But what's most surprising is the seemingly effortless bland of these very different styles of music. The album comprises 60 minutes worth of music, spand over 8 tracks, which form a continuous flow of music. One big eponimous masterpiece.

The Pax Cecilia: Folk instruments breaking distorted walls of guitars, waves of water played over synthesized patterns, piano chords chiming as the drummer plays a surprising beat, vocals telling poem- like lyrics in a highly dramatic and original way, ranging from spoken or even whispered words to screaming in rage, to oozing lullabies. A little known masterpiece of truly progressive music worth of a wider audience.

Review by Dim
3 stars I feel really bad giving the album three stars, but I have good reasons. The few of you who know me good enough, know that I am not a song person, yeah, a song can be great, but if the song doesnt fit with the album, it just throws everything off balance. As for the Pax cecilia's blessed are the bonds, all the songs are great, but they're grouped, and I get an overwhelming sense of unevenness in the album, which leads to a lack of satisfaction for me. This album spans from ambient, to classical jams, to black metal, and then to post metal, so I can understand why putting the songs all in the right place would be quite the challenge, but the fact is, they didn't even try. It seems they just clumped the different genres of music they touched on together, without any diversity in between. Here's how the album goes:

Classically piano driven- The first two songs of this album start with piano and vocals, then climax with other classical instruments jumping in, then finally some drums, and bass will peak it, while the vocals steadily become more driven, and aggressive. These songs are beautiful, and incredibly intense, leaving you blown away at the end. The second song introduces the distorted electric guitars in true post rock fashion to give the songs that edge, and in the first song, the vocals do eventually build into a scream, showing that this will indeed be a metal album

Hardcore/black metal- The next two songs are primarily electric, throwing the classical instruments in the snow as if they never existed. Harsh vocals, and desperate crying chants set the tone as a modern hardcore song, but the precise yet muddy sounding guitars give more of a black metal feel. The first song is more hardcore sounding, and the second song could almost pass as a tech metal song, both are pretty good, but this is, of course, where I go what the hell is going on? All of the sudden we've taken a ninety degree turn towards extremely dark metal, and it caught me off guard, and I'm not very sure that I like it.

Ambient- The next song, The wasteland, is almost completely ambient, which otherwise compliments the intensity of the song before it. Haunting voices set the tone, while every once in awhile a bleak piano chord will shoot from no where. Not to be a super pessimist or anything, but doesnt this seem like the end of GY!BE storm?

Post metal- The next two tracks are almost completely instrumental, and are probably my favorite on the album, especially the second one, The Tree. Angular down stroke guitars, with a slightly distorted tone automatically have you thinking post metal, but there is little doubt left when the classical instruments come back, and the epic climaxes begin. Both songs are great and leave you wanting more, but the strange album has to end at some point.

Classical guitar- The last song, the hymn, is almost too typical to end the album with. A Steve Howe like classical guitar riff (except darker) is being softly plaid while some eerie vocals are being sung, but only for awhile, then the riff keeps going, and going, and going. The persistence of the guitar is actually kind of nice, and it's a breather from the previous songs, but it's really not that impressive, and towards the end starts getting a little sloppy. I wont say the album ends on a bad note, but it doesnt end on an incredibly good one.

Overall I don't think there's a single song I don't like, all of them are well done, and keep you're attention, and for a brand new band to get away with that in a twelve minute long song, it impressive. Like I say with a lot of new coming post metal bands (and there's a LOT), I expect a lot of great things, and think that this one will go pretty far, they just need to learn how to structure an album, or at least give the impression that they tried. Anyone with ears know to put a really slow ambient song after a round of heavy ones, and to end an album with a memorable acoustic.

3 stars.

Review by clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Blessed are the bonds indeed. Here's a gift that needs to be revealed, like a precious and fragile creature behind a black curtain. There are no formulas, no obsessions with the past. This is essential honesty in the core of youth.

What is to be revealed, though, is not cuddly. It comprises differents shades of black and perhaps grey, each picture canalized through agressiveness and/or mellowness. It's a cry, it's a despair, it's impressive in it's horrifying beauty.


Stage two: sober impressions.

The PAX CECILIA's 'Blessed Are The Bonds Album' can be obtained for free via their web site. I ordered one for the sake of curiosity. I've bee waiting for a few weeks, in the meantime, I concluded I won't receive anything and after that I forgot the whole thing. But unexpectedly, a postman brought me a tiny package with a U.S. Mail stamp on it - and I the whole thing came back to my mind. Tearing of the wrapped paper revealed a beautiful cover design, unmistakenly a self-released CD, although looking quite professional.

Being absolutely clueless what the music is all about, I pressed play.

The music immediately caught my attention - for the simplicity, honesty and beauty. Simplicity here stands for simplicity in a structure, however, this is a very diverse album. No solos, no pretentiousness, but many gorgeous layers - cellos, guitars, piano.

The production is - I dare to say - perfect. Do you know common attributes attached to a particular CD production? It could be analog, digital, thin, clear, muddy, warm, old or new, good or bad. This one is...just what it needs to be. The piano sounds like a piano, the cello sounds like a cello. The guitars are being quiet, or howling, but you can hear everything at any time.

After an introspective, mournful piano section, the band starts to reveal its diversity - the moment the screaming guitars and vocal announce metal side of the record, the picture is changed drastically, but in its essence remains the same, guiding us further on. Great riffs - nothing too spectacular, but simply pleasant, hooking drums, and screaming high-pitched vocals seeking comfort. Strings rhythmically playing with guitar riffs.

I'm not mentioning any musical references. Here's only one: CAROUSELAMBRA.

Am I wrong or this music is full of sorrow? Despair? This is a perfect music to die with, if you feel so inclined.

Review by sleeper
5 stars When bands release their work for free, you cant help but wonder if you're only going to get a series of cheaply recorded demos that are going to sound horrible, regardless of how good the band are. However, the moment this album landed on my doorstep I had the distinct feeling that wasnt going to be problem as the initial impression comes from the packaging. Even the cardboard postal packaging had the bands unique artwork adorning it and the album itself, a proper glass-pressed CD and not a CD-r, came in wonderfully designed digi-pack (sadly the album is nolonger available in physical format, you have to download it off the website now). A good start then, and I hadnt even put it in the CD player.

From the first listen this is clearly a well composed album with a beautiful piano melody taking the lead and facilitating an impressive build up, primarily of strings and drums with the guitars kept to the background. Clearly this is not your average post-metal album with instrumentation seemingly focused on piano and strings for a few songs, metal on a few more, an electronic soundscape that perfectly encapsulates the title The Wasteland and finally an ability to mix several of these almost disparate facets togethor. This distinctive mix of diverse sounds and there subsiquent mixing is definitely one of the two biggest strengths of this album. the other is a deft touch with building the songs here, so that nothing is ever over or under done and that tension is built up and released perfectly.

Sitting here writting this now, 2 years on from the release of this impressive album, its clear to me that this doesnt just stand out in a year of below average album releases but its one of the best releases of the decade. The songs on here dont just stand out as indavidual pieces of brilliance, but each track flows from one to the next in such a way that the transition from the piano/drums/strings dominated opening pieces of The Tragedy and The Tomb Song to the more heavy metal of The Progress and The Machine, and so on, is so natural that the album is very organic in its feel and works best as one cohesive piece of art. In effect this creates an album where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and is definitely at its best when listened to in its entirety. Its shocking that an album of this quality can be made and yet remain so obscure, and more so that the band is willing to give it away for free and survive on donations. My only question is for this masterpiece, is where do they go next, because this is one hard act to follow.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Blessed Are The Bonds' - The Pax Cecilia (8/10)

I believe it was Brian Eno that described ambient music as being music you could either listen to and pay attention to it, or let it wash into the background. While this certainly isn't anywhere near ambient music in the traditional sense, the Pax Cecilia's opus seems to function in either sense. Being that it's post-rock, there are alot of drawn out buildups and atmospherics involved, and while alot of it is beautiful and works very well, there seems to be a bit too much downtime on the album to warrant it being called a 'masterpiece,' even though it certainly has many of the suitable qualities of one.

Described to me as being a 'Part The Second with more piano' (citing the acclaimed maudlin of the Well album) there is a heavy piano presense on the album. The album opens up with it's strongest, most consisely composed and performed piece of music, entitled 'The Tragedy.' Sounding somewhat like a cross between Isis and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the Pax Cecilia expertly builds up tension, starting with piano, gently adding an orchestral element, before adding vocals and finally drums into the mix. The emotional impact is something to behold.

'Blessed Are The Bonds' looses focus at parts, which is frustrating, because the parts that usually come after the unfocused, boring parts are of absolute beauty and strength. The first five minutes of 'The Water Song' for example, have very little going on in them, before recurring textures start taking place and the album leaps into one of it's most spectacular moments of beauty.

'The Tree' is also a masterful composition. A metal, minimalistic (a la Phillip Glass) building piece, it works once again at building up the drama moment by moment.

'Blessed Are The Bonds' is a very imperfect album, but certainly worth a good listen to anyone that's a fan of post-rock or metal.

Review by jampa17
3 stars Unexpected. A strange worthy material, but not exactly my cup of tea.

Well, I didn't expect a piano based "post-metal" band and if you find it a little odd, let me tell you is an interesting experiment. This band uses a lot of ambience noisy soft environment to set the mood and suddenly it blows away with more "regular" post metal onslaught. The result depends too much on each one tastes, because is strange and is difficult to describe.

I have to say that the soft phrases and the songs with more mellow approach were very good and it really shares some kind of enjoyable emotions, and the voice matches really well there. In the heavy side of things, I found very interesting riffing and good construction of regular prog- metal phrases (a little more aggressive maybe) but the vocals didn't make it for me. I think the singer need a little more work in his screams, because is not just about to scream and see what happen with it. I found the instrumental fractions in the heavy songs very attractive and I surprise myself doing some strange head banging, because is not that "regular" 4/4 to headbang to.

Now, I notice that this kind of music works better if you just let the songs sound as background music. Don't try to pay too much attention and suddenly you will feel very comfortable about it, and you will discover some nice parts that sometimes you miss for paying attention. Well, that was my experience and even for the listener, there are ways to experiment with this kind of music. So, I feel very good about what I found here.

Besides of the vocals (screams) in the heavy side of things and maybe too long arrangements in the soft parts, I don't have too much complains about this album and you should try it if you like experimental bands. Now, 3 stars is fair, because I don't think it's excellent, but I'm sure I want to hear more from this guys.

Review by Warthur
4 stars The Pax Cecilia's Blessed are the Bonds is one of those albums which sits right on the borderline between post-rock and post-metal, with moments of crushing, screaming fury and gentle, acoustic, almost folky sections co-existing within the band's compositions. A self- released piece which exists solely out of the performer's love of the music - they give it away for free on their website - it's actually extremely well produced, and you really wouldn't know it was recorded and produced entirely on the band's own resources. The fact that such an excellent and wonderful sound can be produced on people's own resources thanks to today's recording technologies is surely reason to have hope for the future - and what better soundtrack for that future than the Pax Cecilia?

Latest members reviews

5 stars Lurking between post metal and experimental music are The Pax Cecilia, who with this release have hit upon a fantastic form of advertising; giving albums away for free complete with mini poster, booklet and incredible artwork, this is how I came to listen to them. Blessed are the Bonds starts w ... (read more)

Report this review (#137172) | Posted by N Ellingworth | Saturday, September 8, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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