Cerce (pronounced “sir-say”) is a fierce, scorching, raging fire, with flames that rip forth unpredictably, burning fast. The 5-piece Boston band just released their self-titled, 6-song EP/7”, so I grabbed a fire extinguisher and gave it a listen.
The EP opens with a slow, brooding, feedback-heavy, meandering instrumental. The song helps set the stage for the pain, furor, and soul-baring to come, almost lulling you, before seamlessly plowing into the second track, “Weary,” drums pounding at a very fast tempo.
It’s that second track that first introduces us to the screech and shrill screams of frontwoman Becca Cadalzo. These aren’t guttural, throaty screams; her high-pitched vocals remind me of Blatz and Raooul, both Lookout Records bands from the late 80s and early-mid 90s.
But while the vocal comparison to those two bands is fair, the lyrics are incomparable. Cadalzo’s lyrics are very emotional and revealing. Her frantic pace, with alternately desperate and furious vocals, makes you actually feel the emotions she’s conveying through her words.
“I’m a strong kind of weak/The pins keep pushing farther in/Pushing through pale skin/Puncturing my red heart,” she sings in “Choices,” the third song on the EP, with her voice rising to a manic scream as she continues, “Cause I chose you to move in closer/Closer than any other hypnotized soul/I chose you to hurt me.”
Musically, each track has moments of contemplation, quickly shattered by the ear-splitting vocals, heavy chords, blazing drums, and flashes of feedback. There are plenty of tempo changes, at times sounding like heavy, groove-oriented hardcore, but the drumming is so sporadic that it shocks you from any sort of rhythm you might be sinking into. And before you know it, the music is frenzied, weaving, then finding a rhythm again.
The sixth and final track, “Fornication,” ends seemingly on a positive lyrical note, though not without emotion. It opens with a slow(ish) drum pace, rhythmically thumping along, heavy guitars and bassline droning, again sucking you in.
“Go ahead/Tell me I’ll never be loved/Doesn’t even matter what devil words you beat me down with/Cause I’ve got it all together now/Someone’s heart is beating against mine/And I can feel something other than pain,” she sings, almost patiently. “Congrats to us/To the prince and I/My insecurities, my secret, my ball and chain finally drowning in our sweat.”
And then, after a brief pause of vocals, she screams, “I’ll never be sewn up again/I’ll never be sewn up again,” as the song pounds on, less frantic, with a slower tempo, maybe a sense of relief, closure, with the song wandering on for two minutes as an instrumental, swarming with feedback and guitar effects, and I imagine the vocalist has long left the stage and everyone watching is left speechless.