Parnassus - First Degree
2 God & Goddess in Blue #7
3 Kings' Dance
7 Let My Eye Go To The Sun
8 Beauty of the Earth
9 Air Moves Us
10 Late at Night
11 Oh Shit, it's the Faeries
13 Rough Water
14 Circle is Open/Spirit of the Earth
Parnassus, which evolved into Chalice and Blade, came out of British Columbia releasing "First Degree" in 2004. The CD overall is very well produced including layered vocals, subtle background sounds, and a blatantly apparent love for music and the Wiccan path. Themes of magic, Wicca, divinity, and nature are woven with guitar, bass, percussion, and voice. The musical styles range from fire-side chant to soul to jazz to filk; "First Degree" is a must have CD for any lover of Wiccan music. Parnassus describes themselves as:
|We are a Wiccan vocal group from Vancouver, BC, Canada. We perform traditional craft songs and original pieces, and our music reflects our reverence for the Earth. The production of this CD has been an initiation for all of us, and we hope you enjoy our "First Degree."|
The CD opens with "A-Tesh-Na-Anna" and " God & Goddess in Blue #7." Both opening songs are group vocals performed to contagious hand drumming and percussion, building in energy and inviting you to sing or drum along. If at this point the listener believes they know what to expect of the remaining 12 tracks, they'll be surprised with the opening beat poetry of "Kings' Dance" that leads into a tightly performed jazz song. "Destiny" is a melancholy folk song played to guitar leading into the similarly styled "Constellations."
"Elementas" is a musical calling of the elements that any Wiccan group should try at least once to perform as an opening to ritual. Driving drumming is combined with layered and energetic vocals, raising power, and drawing the elements of nature forth. When first listening to this song I quickly found myself rushing to grab my drum, and shortly thereafter was drumming, singing, and dancing in the middle of my kitchen. Parnassus' love and passion for their Wiccan beliefs shines through with this infectious track. "Let My Eye Go To The Sun" is a change of pace that alternates between group and solo vocals as it celebrates the beauty of nature.
"Beauty of the Earth" is a beautiful group chant celebrating the divine feminine that vocally ascends into a well-woven round. "Air Moves Us" is a chant will be familiar to many Wiccans as it celebrates the elements of nature. "Late at Night" yet again changes musical style stepping into an upbeat guitar celebration of the Goddess. For those that find a fondness for the fey folk, the story-driven "Oh Shit, it's the Faeries" will be sure to draw a smile with its quirky tale. "Initiation" brings a haunting sound of echoing vocals to a dark and moody acoustic guitar background.
"Rough Water" is the gem of "First Degree." The drum beat is simple enough for any drummer of moderate skill to follow along with its fun rhythm, and is accentuated by a subtle interweaving of bass. For anyone on the Wiccan path who has found solace and strength within the magical circle from the challenges of life, this soulful song will draw upon that magical and beautiful experience. Whether you sing, drum, dance, or merely listen along to this song, this track alone makes "First Degree" a must-have addition to your musical collection. The final track of this disc, "Circle is Open/Spirit of the Earth," layers two familiar chants closing the CD in beauty.
Overall, "First Degree" is highly recommended. The vocals and instrument playing are very well performed bringing across the emotion, passion, reverence, and beauty that Parnassus have found within the sacred. Whether you are listening to the music on your own, or are sharing it with a group, it is easy to get swept up in the enthusiasm of Parnassus to find yourself spontaneously singing or dancing along.