Tony Wilson once remarked upon seeing Joy Divison live at a battle on the bands in 1978 that “every other band wanted to be on stage, Joy Divison were there because they had no fucking choice”. The same can be said for The Seed, The Vessel, The Roots And All; it exists because New Pagans had to make it. Everything here needs to be expressed.
And not a moment is left to waste. Starting with the jagged ‘It’s Darker’, New Pagans grab the listener by the scruff and pull them into the world of The Seed, The Vessel, The Roots And All. Via a rumbling drum beat and angular guitar parts, snarled vocal lines that yell “It’s going to get you, it’s going to push you if this is true, then we’ll go into hiding” are pulled into sharp focus. This urgency is then followed by the screeching sound of ‘Bloody Soil’, as the album begins with a stark one-two punch.
The melding of contortion and frustration both musically and lyrically drive the album. New Pagans play like a band where every beat, melody and strum is essential to the song’s core. Seen on the dynamically jolting ‘Charlie Has The Face Of A Saint’, this brooding undercurrent adds to the impact of lines like “You’re easy to hurt when you’re down on your knees, crawling about in the dirt for me”, which are delivered vocally with equal force.
Add this to the cathartic reaching of ‘Harbour’, the tense build and release of ‘Yellow Room’, the turbulent ‘Lily Yeats’, and the music and the meaning found within The Seed, The Vessel, The Roots And All is undeniable throughout. This unrestrained expression is most powerfully conveyed in lines like, “We want to know what sisters wrote and made. My daughter needs to know that she can do the same.” (found in the aforementioned ‘Lily Yeats’). Forming the very heart of what is a genuinely raw album, tonally and sonically.
However, New Pagans reserve the best for last. Blending all the thematic elements that populate The Seed, The Vessel, The Roots And All, the fiery post-punk of ‘Christian Boys’ exposes societal hypocrisy and misogyny, as the song that holds nothing back and, much like the album itself, needs to be heard.
And so it goes, The Seed, The Vessel, The Roots And All is an album that demands nothing less than your complete attention. With their debut, New Pagans make a statement of what type of band they are, do they just want to be here, or do they have no fucking choice? This album suggests the latter.