Back in the mid nineties, with grunge dead and Britpop in full swing (over in the UK at least) the most exciting venture on the musical horizon was the so-called post rock movement spearheaded by the likes of Mogwai and later taken on by a whole host of international acts. Mogwai offered something genuinely different; bravely instrumental and imbued with a heaviness (particularly on the monumental ‘like Herod’) as well as a sense of heart-breaking melody, they were one of my favourite bands of the period and I still return to them on a regular basis. Belgium’s Cecilia Eyes take their cue from a similar place. Here on their debut album ‘’here dead we lie’, elements of Mogwai, SIgur ros and Red Sparrowes all appear in the mix and the slow-burning opening track shows that they not only have the talent but also the melodies to carry it off. As the tune twists and turns, so the riffs spiral into a confused burst of paranoia-soaked minor-key uncertainty and you realise this may not be an easy ride after all.
‘For the fallen’ opens with the sound of children and the lightest of reverb-soaked guitar before exploding into a multi-textured beast that is somehow light and crushing at the same time. Swirls of guitar overlay one another and the bass drones underneath keeping the whole thing in check. ‘Anthem for doomed youth’ is a creepy trip into a psychedelic filled with the voices of the dead. It’s an intelligent and uncomfortable reflection upon war that is deeply disquieting. ‘Four lost soldiers’ does little to lighten the mood although it does explode into a blistering tornado of guitar noise that entrances the listener before the melancholy ‘The departure’ begins its gentle, piano-led journey through vintage Pink Floyd territory recalling some of the best moments from the Wall with its stunning guitars and atmospheric elements.
‘Fifty years under the tent’ is a slow burning song that opens on the gentlest of melodies, played as if far away before slowly drifting into sight. Of all the songs here it’s the closest allied to Sigur Ros’ strangely wordless singing and it’s a starkly beautiful moment. ‘No prayers, no bells, no homeland’ takes a moment to build up a head of steam but does so over a web of lightly fluttering guitars and Pink Floyd-esque drums before turning into a darkly menacing whirlwind of guitar noise toward the end that is simply soaked with rage. Final track ‘death for treason’ is a gentle look back across the album’s strongest points wrapped up in a poignant melody that will cause a lump in the throat of all but the hardest amongst you.
Cecilia Eyes take the somewhat limited format of post-rock and carve their own identity firmly into it. A work of breathtaking beauty that sits firmly amongst the great bands of the genre, they create the most stunningly emotive music imaginable and the sense of palpable atmosphere is almost overwhelming at times. A deep, cerebral work, you will return to this time and time again. Wonderful.