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Guillotine - The Cynic CD (album) cover

THE CYNIC

Guillotine

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.02 | 4 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'The Cynic' - Guillotine (7/10)

It's something I've said before and will say again: the future of heavy metal music lies in India. Compared to the West, India has remained largely silent in the past when it's come to bands of its own. However, one thing India has never been in shortage of is enthusiasm; one needs only witness the fanfare Iron Maiden received in Mumbai on their "Flight 666" tour to see it. With that evidence of passion in mind, it's all the more exciting to see bands like New Delhi's Guillotine emerging with material of their own. Their technical, progressively- inclined brand of melodic death metal is bound to draw comparisons aplenty with some of the better-known Western prog metal bands, but it's rare that the style is executed so well. It would have been impressive enough simply to know that Guillotine recorded "The Cynic" whilst still in their teenage years and early twenties, but to hear this sort of progressive calibre hailing from the other side of the world is a reason of its own to celebrate. If Guillotine is any indicator of what the Indian metal scene has in store for us, there's good reason to be excited.

Of course- the relative novelty aside- Guillotine need not be seen as an 'Indian metal' band to be fully appreciated. Like Mumbai's Demonic Resurrection (the only other Indian death metal band I've heard thus far), Guillotine largely follow the European formula; Scandinavia, to be specific. Like so many young progressive death metal bands, Opeth is a big anchor for Guillotine, and there are many times throughout the album where their sound and style are conjured explicitly. Nary two minutes into the album's opener, "The Alchemy: Tears of Despair" the mix of dark atmosphere and clean melodic groove undeniably references the Swedes of "Blackwater Park". Fortunately, Guillotine incorporate a far larger number of influences into the musical cauldron. Some parts reflect the catchy riffs of Soilwork, and other times I am reminded of the technical flashwork of Dream Theater and other American progressive stalwarts. "The Cynic" indeed feels moreso a collaboration of Guillotine's influences, rather than a unique evolution of the progressive metal form. Guillotine may have not yet found a clear sound of their own, but it's not often where the archetypal prog- death 'Opeth' model is executed with such skill.

I distinctly remember listening through "The Cynic" for the first time, and having my eyes widen upon hearing some of the technical fills on "Upon My Return". Guillotine is one of the uncommon acts in metal where each musician is impressive. Although- for example- Takar Nabam's tight guitar work might impress me more than Karan Nambiar's low growl, there is not an aspect of Guillotine's sound that drags down the rest. Even the album's production- often a problem with many unsigned debuts- is clear and professional. The songwriting goes a long way to showcase the musicians' talents. Although the strict metal element is weighted much more heavily (pun certainly intended) in their songwriting than the proggy detours, each song makes time for a break from the death metal. Often- unexpected breaks into jazz, Porcupine Tree-like melodic prog and even funk give the bass and keyboards ample time to shine. For the most part, these experimental ventures are generally kept separate from the death metal; the prog-typical time signatures and technical wizardry are alive in the metal, but Guillotine keep their most adventurous musical experiments for the mellow sorties. Although this has a tendency to make the mellow parts more interesting than you'll hear in the work of similar bands, it would have been nice to hear Guillotine take this potential for surprise and variety and integrate it fully into the metal side of their sound.

As has been the case with many of the albums that influenced Guillotine's debut, "The Cynic" is a concept album, detailing the course of a nameless character as he tries to cope with his disillusionment with society. It's a pretty wordy topic to be certain, but the psychological theme works well with Guillotine's light/dark musical style. Although "The Cynic" makes no attempt to hide Guillotine's influences, there is evidence and potential here for something amazing. Guillotine are exceptionally skilled musicians, and they know how to write thoughtful music that reflects it. All the same, I shall be expecting more from the band for their second album. The potential here is obvious, and I can only see these guys improving with time.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |

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