Cynic – Kindly Bent to Free Us – Seasons of Mist – Out Now
Cynic have never been a band to take the easy road. When the, now regaled as a classic, debut “Focus” came out in in 1993 few could truly appreciate the jazz-fusion-death metal combination and eventually the band broke up. In the years since more and more people came to see it as a classic and when Cynic announced a reunion in 2007 expectations ran high. When the follow-up “Traced in Air” was released in 2008 there were still a lot of people that disliked it, although often because it was not close enough to the sound of “Focus”.
Luckily this time around there were a lot more people that enjoyed the new album and after two EP’s Cynic bring us their new album, which will again polarize fans.
Paul Masvidal – Vocals, Guitars, Keys
Sean Malone – Bass, Stick
Sean Reinert – Drums
Kindly Bent to Free Us
Again Cynic haven’t taken the easy road with their newest offspring. Much as “Traced in Air” was removed from “Focus” the new album strays even further away, shedding even more of the harsh sounds. While this might make the new album more accessible, opener “True Hallucination Speak” is quick to show that there are still plenty of details and layers for the prog music lover to enjoy. Constantly changing patterns keep the song interesting, without ever really taking away from the pure enjoyment of the music. Paul Masvidal’s voice is a real ‘love it or hate it’ kind of thing, I’ve seen enough speak out in annoyance to his voice, though I quite enjoy it. You’ll have to make do, as the harsh vocals are truly a thing of the past.
“The Lion’s Roar” starts off very light-hearted and is an easy song to get into the band with, because there’s enough going on in the rhythm and guitar sections to keep the song interesting. “Kindly Bent to Free Us” is a lot more akin to the sound of the previous album “Traced in Air”, even hinting back to “Focus” now and then, though the less harsh guitars don’t really make it that obvious. “Infinite Shapes” tentatively tries to scratch the itch for some more powerful guitars, yet the way it often trades with softer parts prevents it from going full throttle. At the same time that does give the harsher parts a bigger impact.
As a contrast the song “Moon Heart Sun Head” often sounds more akin to the works of Aeon Spoke, though with a stronger impact here and there. It is rather deceptive though, as there are some superb solos going on. And again we go the other way around as “Gitanjali” sounds as if it could have been on “Traced in Air” and again with hints to the “Focus”-era.
For me the song “Holy Fallout” is the pinnacle of the album as this song has so much to offer. It is deep, complex and it portrays nearly everything that Cynic have stood for over all the years. The only thing ‘lacking’ on this song would be the harsh vocals of yore, yet I have to say that I do not miss them at all. It’s really a shame that they didn’t choose to make this song the ending song, because “Endlessly Bountiful” makes for a rather boring, if slightly enjoyable in its peacefulness, ending to a very diverse and dynamic album.
Cynic have never taken the easy road and they never will. Some might say that the new album is too radio friendly, but for those who dive deeper into the songs there’s so much to enjoy.
I love “Focus”, more so than the follow-ups, yet at the same time I learned a long time ago to accept that it was a different type of music for a different era in the band members’ lives. With “Kindly Bent to Free Us” Cynic show that they still have so much to offer. It might not be a long album, yet it is so packed with details that it feels a lot longer, like Cynic albums always have been.
- True Hallucination Speak
- The Lion’s Roar
- Kindly Bent to Free Us
- Infinite Shapes
- Moon Heart Sun Head
- Holy Fallout
- Endlessly Bountiful
Score: 4.6 out of 5
Text: Robert Popovic