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Cynic - Kindly Bent To Free Us CD (album) cover

KINDLY BENT TO FREE US

Cynic

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.69 | 133 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Aldebaran_Well
3 stars Cynic was always about change so, I cannot understand all the fans that criticize the band throughout their career for changing. I declare myself a big Cynic fan too and I always knew that this band would constantly evolve, sometimes even in unexpected ways. Finding myself in the uncomfortable position of not being thrilled by a new Cynic release for the first time, I have to clear out that it's not change that troubles me, only the quality of the result.

Most of you know what Cynic's universe is about: A perfect mix of jazz/fusion and metal, technical excellence, space atmospheres, futuristic visions and philosophy, all tied up together with an aura of mystique. Their two full length albums, ''Focus'' and ''Traced in air'', are masterpieces of extreme prog metal and their last effort, the ''Carbon based anatomy'' EP, introduced us to a new balance in Cynic's sound where jazz, metal, rock, space and even world music elements, created a unique and majestic blend that could perfectly sum up the best of 21st century's intelligent prog music. I expected nothing less from ''Kindly bent to free us'' but to step on that road and even evolve it, if possible. Were the expectations met? Are the above characteristics present? Push the play button.

''True hallucination speak'' kicks off with a typical space intro and the first riff welcomes us to the band's familiar complexity. By the middle of the song I realized that something was missing, there was no raw prog power, neither a real space mood. The chorus and the vocal bridge sounds almost cheerful and I was left with an awkward feeling ? to be polite- , especially considering the fact that bands always choose very carefully the opening track. Awkwardness gave its way to the first clouds of disappointment when ''The lion's roar'' set in. Major notes again ? no problem with that, too major for Cynic though -, soft verse and a chorus which, I hate to say, sounds almost cheesy. Of course, if you focus on the rhythm section the song is great but I couldn't help but feeling that this has a very commercial approach, almost like they tried to compose a hit song. Things fall into place with the album's title track, the main riff is really powerful and emotional, reminding very much of Fates Warning (Parallels era). There's a beautiful, mysterious mood throughout the song, before it explodes into a magnificent, pure jazz instrumental part at the end, certainly one of the album's highlight moments. ''Infinite shapes'' starts again with a ballad-like introduction and at that point, I realized that the band uses the same song structure all the time, a constant sequence of loud part-slow part, which works fine in some songs but eventually gets predictable. It's like the songs are not left free to breathe, flow and stretch. The chorus has a dark touch and it's the only part of the album that I thought the old growling vocals would greatly match. ''Moon heart sun head'' doesn't change much, melodic beginning, same developing, good drum groove, an interesting voice sample in the middle, that's all. By this time, one good song out of five was a nightmare scenario but, thankfully, the album's best tracks are the last three.

''Gitanjali'' steps in with a great tribal drum pattern before the big surprise of the appearance of the first, almost straight rock riff in Cynic's discography. Not bad, not bad at all! In fact, while maintaining the band's basic elements, this song is quite refreshing and it shook me alright. And then, at last?''Holy fallout'', by far the album's best track. This, my friends, is craftsmanship, this can only be composed by prog masters! From the very first notes, the enigmatic essence of Cynic appears and never leaves the song. Magic, mysterious, technical super prog that flows perfectly until the unbelievable slow, doom-like part in the end. Even post rock elements can be found and not only in the trippy e-bowed guitars of the outro. Final track ''Endlessly bountiful'' is here and?is this a glockenspiel?! Yes it is! Yes, it could have been written by Sigur Ros, straight post rhythm groove, choir, wise use of effects and a sweet epic mood, before the wonderful melodic jazz part that brings the album to an end.

I have to concentrate firstly on the cons. If compared to the previous full length albums, ''Kindly?'' lacks innovation and it doesn't feel as inspired. There are many parts that don't stand out as something special and it's difficult to accept that from such a special band like Cynic. Their music in the past could make someone feel like being part of an adventurous sonic journey from ancient civilizations to the very ends of the universe. It doesn't trip me that way now. Another weakness is the vocals, the vocoders and the mechanized voices don't fit so well in the new material. Masvidal's clean voice is quite ok but if the band keeps the present musical direction, greater expression and depth will be required. He doesn't have that range now. Finally, I think that they can expand the production and work in richest arrangements too, the sound is a bit dry.

There's no need to overanalyze the pros. Cynic's music is still better than the 95% of today's prog metal. Paul Masvidal is a genius and Reinert/Malone are one of the best rhythm sections rock music has ever seen and heard. Even the most mediocre idea is performed with absolute expression and precision. It's just that I always expect from them to create music as daring and challenging as it gets. Hopefully they'll do better next time.

For every other band this would be a four stars review. For Cynic, three stars are fair enough, they alone have raised the bar of their art so high.

Aldebaran_Well | 3/5 |

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