The Smashing Skull Sessions

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Ode & Elegy - Ode & Elegy

"...if you are a lover of music as a universal force, and enjoy music that can seep into your bloodstream and reach every part of your body, releasing endorphins that can raise hairs, break hearts and draw tears, then Ode & Elegy is an album that will bring you through every emotion possible".

Sometimes there are albums that fall on your lap and you put them aside for a while, with all the greatest will in the world to get to them eventually, but that’s not always the case. Ode & Elegy is one such album. Released back in February, I stumbled upon it and slotted it into my wishlist in Bandcamp, and that’s where it stayed gathering tech-dust, until a facebook friend, Eric Young floated my name to Kent of Ode & Elegy, and to cut a long story short, here I am reviewing the album.

First off, I need to get something across before I try and untangle and lay bare, the story of this fifty-five-minute requiem. This musical composition has completely consumed me and has had me in rapture and despair throughout its soul-searching journey. This intricate and vast opus tells the story of someone who is nearing death and through the guidance and eyes of a heron, encounters their life from the lofty heights above. What branches out below below is life squandered and a road that is strewn with pain and desolation. This lifetime’s journey is littered with memories and misgivings, all musically narrated through a cacophony of string quartets, brass orchestrations and choral rhapsodies, beautifully blended with the harshness and the hardship of doom rock and metal.

Ode & Elegy opens with shivering chamber music that aches and whistles through every hair on your body. The lamentations and the heartache are felt through every string as they shed bitter tears before becoming engulfed in heaving guitars and percussions. As the air clears, angels weep and serenade, bringing with them flashes reminiscent of the brilliant Dead Can Dance. As the vocals become clearer and more angelic, they are soon joined by calm acoustic strings.

As the atmosphere thickens with a brass-filled outcry, guitars get angry, and the journey is led down a treacherous path of vicious screams and manic musicianship that branch off into a haunting, but somewhat heart-warming vocal that comforts and consoles this person who is forced to take a hard look at the life they have lived. As they witness their life lose colour and clarity, the music summons a storm that is thick and blackened with swollen clouds and merciless rains. The pain and the hurt is relentless as the winds carry the Sofia Session Choir's voices deep within its belly, hurtling grim and sombre reminders like harpoons, that pierce a weary soul.

A brief pause in this opus gives hope, and gives our journeyman time to reflect, and through provocative violins, bass and cello, gives credence of rebirth, and another chance at life, albeit through new eyes. The musical journey that coincides and follows on from this moment of clarity is a passage of post-rock perfection that builds in tempo and builds in atmosphere and fever, orchestrating into a harmonic and passionate crescendo, adorned with vacuumed screams and harrowing melody that become a beacon of light in such a sombre saga.

I have to say, this review is hard to do, simply because so much happens in this album, from moments of violent and agonising orchestration to polar moments of chilling and heart-rending choral acrobatics. It has everything. To try and put it another way maybe! if you are a lover of music as a universal force, and enjoy music that can seep into your bloodstream and reach every part of your body, releasing endorphins that can raise hairs, break hearts and draw tears, then Ode & Elegy is an album that will bring you through every emotion possible.

To create a composition that incorporates chamber folk, doom metal, and neoclassical music, and then some! takes very talented individuals. To compose a piece of music that stretches fifty-five minutes and keeps you in suspense throughout is no easy feat either. Those of you already familiar with Ode & Elegy in their previous life The Pax Cecelia, will not be one bit shocked to hear such an epic release. Either way it is genius.

If I had to compare this album to another, in order to give some folk a reference point, I would say it encompasses a lot of the beauty that’s found in albums like Omnio from In The Woods, Rotten Fruit: Regular Orchard from Portal To The God Damn Blood Dimension, and a solid slab of Dead Can Dance. I don’t think there’s anymore left to say here, other than you must listen to this, and you must give it the time it deserves.