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Citizen Cain - Skies Darken CD (album) cover

SKIES DARKEN

Citizen Cain

 

Symphonic Prog

3.96 | 184 ratings

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Warthur
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Skies Darken finds Citizen Cain returning after a decade of silence following the release of Playing Dead. Impressively, the lineup of Playing Dead has stuck around - a rarity for a band whose history has been plagued with lineup instability. Band leader Cyrus is still on lead vocals and bass, duties he's undertaken since the band's earliest days in the 1980s. Keyboards and, secondarily, drums are handled by Stewart Bell - the one consistent member of the "Mark 2" lineup of Citizen Cain since the Serpents In Camouflage debut album. Phill Allen returns on guitar, having joined on Playing Dead.

Why Citizen Cain should go quiet for a decade, re-emerge to release this album, and then (at least as far as commercially released music goes) disappear once again, I don't know; these long gaps are uncharacteristic for a band which had previously been able to put out an album every 2-4 years from 1993 to 2002. On the other hand, the time off seems to have done them good, since Skies Darken is easily their most original and distinctive-sounding release.

Accusations of Genesis mimicry have often dogged Citizen Cain, and with Cyrus' singing voice being as closely modelled on Peter Gabriel's as it is it seems unlikely they'll ever put out an album where that won't be a factor. That said, his performance here is different from his usual style - less bombastically theatrical, much more melancholic and philosophical, Cyrus's vocals here are less prone to intrusively upstaging the musical performances than on any previous Citizen Cain album. As far as the music goes, there's a dark and funereal cast to things here, an injection of grim latter-day neo-prog reminiscent of the likes of Arena's Contagion or late IQ which takes things far from the pastoral romanticism of Genesis.

As of the time of writing, it's been eight years since Skies Darken was released; hopefully we will not have to wait that much longer for another Citizen Cain album, for at this late stage of their careers they seem to have flowered and revealed a powerful, distinctive sound of their own that puts their earlier material in the shade.

Warthur | 5/5 |

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