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Citizen Cain

Symphonic Prog

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Citizen Cain Serpents In Camouflage album cover
3.58 | 117 ratings | 18 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1992

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Stab In The Back (6:49)
2. Liquid Kings (11:25)
3. Harmless Criminal (10:29)
4. The Gathering (11:05)
5. Dance Of The Unicorn (6:27)
6. Serpents In Camouflage (13:23)

Total time 59:38

Bonus tracks on 1998 reissue:
7. Nightlights - As The Wheel Turns (4:06)
8. Stab In The Back (Live Demo) (7:06)

Bonus CD from 2013 remaster:
1. Stab In The Back (alt mix)
2. Liquid Kings (alt mix)
3. Nightlights (prev. unreleased)
4. The Gathering (alt mix)

Line-up / Musicians

- George Scott "Cyrus" / vocals
- Frank Kennedy / guitars
- Stewart Bell / keyboards
- David Elam / bass
- Chris Colvin / drums

Releases information

Artwork: George Scott "Cyrus"

MC self-released (1992, UK)

CD Silly Insects Records ‎- SILLY INSECTS 001 (1993, Netherlands)
CD Cyclops ‎- CYCL 064 (1998, UK) With 2 bonus tracks
2xCD Festival Music ‎- 201212B (2013, UK) Remastered by Mike Varty with bonus CD containing the Demo Tape from 1991

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy CITIZEN CAIN Serpents In Camouflage Music

CITIZEN CAIN Serpents In Camouflage ratings distribution

(117 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (34%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

CITIZEN CAIN Serpents In Camouflage reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Marcelo
2 stars Just a MARILLION era Fish clone, but not so good. Some nice landscapes, but the whole album results too long and dense. Instead, if you like neo prog bands with strong GENESIS influences, you can try "Somewhere But Yesterday", the next CITIZEN CAIN album, quite better than this.
Review by loserboy
4 stars CITIZEN CAIN's first official album release and an absolute intoxicating one at that. At the time this was released, I felt CITIZEN CAIN were one of the best prog acts all around. CITIZEN CAIN blend the triumphs of GENESIS with the progressive roots of the 70's. Cyrus' lead vocals are simply amazing and brings a Peter GABRIEL-like approach to the music without sounding like an imitation in any way. Musicianship is extremely high with loads of complex instrument interplay and vocals expressions. Songs are highly memorable and are generally long in duration (10 mins). CITIZEN CAIN deliver a highly profesional and emotional music with some absolutely stunning progressive rock moments. I believe Malcolm Parker (GFT / Cyclops - see my link section for contact details) has re-released this gem for those unlucky enough to swing a copy during the short existence of Dutch prog label SI Music.
Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is one of the prog bands which sounds the most like Genesis of the Gabriel era and Marillion of the Fish era!! First of all, the singer dangerously sounds like Peter Gabriel. The Marillion's album that has this sound and style is definitely "Script from a jester's tear", especially the "He knows you know" track: moog and organ keyboards, although less floating than on the first Marillion's album; the outstanding guitar sounds are surprisingly the same, and this is true for both the rhythmic guitar and the solos. The drums are never monotonous and they are very well played. The bass here is definitely more elaborated: it contributes to give this album strong progressive elements from the old school, with a modern overall sound: this means "Foxtrot" and "Selling England by the pound", modernized! The album is better than the first Marillion's album. What is impressive is the cohesion between all the instruments, forming very unforgettable melodic & complex structures. There are 4 tracks out of 7 which last more than 10 minutes. Please don't say "Well, it is not so good because they copied Marillion!" Marillion has enough suffered from such a bad comment, being compared to early Genesis. Citizen Cain is neither Marillion nor Genesis! They have their own style and sound. Pay attention to "The Gathering": a modern "Supper's ready"/"Cinema Show" medley? Outrageously brilliant!! Don't forget to listen to the absolutely "Cinema Show-esque" quintessential bit of the "Serpents in camouflage" track between 4:28 and 5:40! Regardless of what purists say, I will continue to listen to that gem until I become deaf!


Review by erik neuteboom
3 stars In the early Nineties I joined the acclaimed but late Dutch progrock paper SI Magazine. This album was the first release from their label SI Music that I was allowed to review.

The first track "Stab in the back" (7 minutes, one of the shortest tracks!) features pleasant and melodic symphonic rock with Peter Gabriel-like vocals, keyboards in the vein of Tony Banks and Mark Kelly (especially the quick synthesizer runs) and guitarplay with strong echoes from Steve Hackett, Mike Holmes and Steve Rothery. I enjoyed the music but in my opinion the vocals are a bit too omnipresent. This is also the case in the next three songs "Liquid kings", "Harmless criminal" and "The gathering": lots of fine guitars and keyboards, unfortunately because of the extensive lyrics too often my attention slips away. But the following "Dance of the unicorn is a strong and varied track featuring delicate flute and ecxellent guitarwork with hints from Mike Holmes. The final composition (on my SI Music version, this CD was later re-released with bonus-tracks by the UK label Cyclops) is their best one with a great buiild-up and a splendid 'grand finale'. The music strongly evokes Genesis (keyboards) and early Marillion (compelling climates) but the propulsive and moving guitarplay is in the vein of again Mike Holmes.

If you want to dream away on the good old days from Genesis and Marillion and you are not too critical, this is a very pleasant album that sounds like "Selling England for a jester's tear!"

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars This is a really special record. I know people knock these guys for sounding too much like GENESIS, but I love this stuff. These "guys" are from Scotland and their singer Cyrus sounds very much like Peter Gabriel.This is their first album from 1993. Six songs in 60 minutes.

"Stab In The Back" opens with a great sound as the melody builds until the vocals come in.There is an atmospheric interlude after 4 minutes as we hear the guitar and drums.The guitar melody that follows is fantastic ! "Liquid Kings" is uptempo with guitar, keys and drums. Again I just really like the sound these guys create. Vocals come in at 3 minutes followed by a keyboard solo. Some mood shifts in this one as well as flute."Harmless Criminal" is more atmospheric and laid back but it starts to speed up.The guitar solo is well done as keys play along. At around 5 minutes the melody reverts back to the mellow sound from the intro, with flute added. Uptempo and uplifting as well later on.

"The Gathering" is about knights,war and death. Musically it's in the same vein as the other songs with an energetic guitar solo as the highlight for me. "Dance Of The Unicorn" is my favourite song on the album. It's a great sounding, mid paced song with lots of synths.The vocals are as usual incredible.The melody of flute, keys and drums follow. This is such an uplifting song. The synths are so Banks sounding, and the song ends with flute and spacey synths. "Serpents In Camouflage" starts slowly as vocals, pulsating keys, guitar and good drumming create a beautiful sound. Before 6 minutes the sound gets pastoral, with spacey synths before it reverts back to the original melody. Some soaring guitar to follow.

Highly recommended to those who like GENESIS influenced bands.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars If you ever belong to the generation of the inconsolable Gabriel period of Genesis, I guess that such an album is made for you. Vocals are very much in Peter's style (actually, the huge amounts of lyrics reminds me even more Peter Nicholls form IQ) and musically, Genesis is never far away.

Is this a clone ? Well, yes probably. If you like bands like Rael, Mangala Vallis or The Watch for instance, there are a lot of possibilities that you will quite like "Citizen Cain". Now, I do not really know why "Citizen Cain" is ranked in the symph genre while most of the band playing this type of music is referenced under the neo-prog banner. Strange, indeed.

Do you fancy some "Cinema Show" keyboards ? Just listen to "Liquid Kings". Complex and long number, all the recipes of such derivative bands are included in this track. But "Citizen Cain" probably does it better than lots of other ones out there. Guitar is maybe a bit shy but this track is one of the highlights of this album.

Some of you might be irritated with the lead vocalist of course. To be that close of PG might sound too much. But that's the package. You can't leave him out of the band. And actually it fits perfectly well with the music of course. Compositions are long (only two clocking at less than ten minutes) and relatively complex. They are probably not grandiose for most of them, but none is poor (although "Dance f The Unicorn" is probably the weakest of all).

My favourite song is also the longest one. "Serpents In Camouflage". It shows a harder band for half of the song, but then some delicate and softer tone is adopted and will be built crescendo to offer a passionate finale. Great keyboards like who you know.

Of course, the first listening was love at first sight for me. But I am quite orphan of this period so, I am biased, can't help ! When I listen to such beautiful parts as during "Harmless Criminal" I just succomb. But , as I have said, no weak track on this album. I like it. Still, the more I listen to it, the more I notice that it lacks in creativity.

Three stars for this good debut work.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Serpents In Camouflage" is the debut full-length studio album by UK, London based progressive rock act Citizin Cain. The album was initially self-released in 1992 but has since seen several label reissues (the first in 1993 through Silly Insects Records). Citizen Cain formed in 1982 and working as a trio they played quite a few shows until 1988 when they disbanded without leaving behind anything recorded. However lead vocalist George Scott "Cyrus" opted to reform Citizen Cain in 1990 and assembled a new lineup to record the material featured on "Serpents In Camouflage".

Stylistically the material on the 6 track, 59:38 minutes long album is neo-progressive rock, which sounds a lot like the most complex Marillion songs off the first two albums with Peter Gabriel on vocals. IQ is another valid reference. There´s next to nothing on "Serpents In Camouflage" that won´t remind you of the mentioned artists and it´s a bit of a shame, because Citizin Cain are obviously skilled musicians and they are also decent composers (the tracks are generally too long and lacks some memorable moments), so they have the right tools to create something a bit more unique. They have just chosen not to...and instead wear their influences 100% on their sleeves.

"Serpents In Camouflage" features a sound production which suits the music style, which means that it´s a bit trebly, clear, and detailed, and maybe lacking a bit of heavy bottom, but the latter is probably a conscious choice. In many ways this should be the ultimate wet dream for fans of neo-progressive rock, who by 1992 were probably a bit disillusioned after the demise of Fish-led Marillion and the end of the neon colored 80s, but I´m not sure this is exactly what the doctor ordered. I hear all the right ingredients featured on the album, but something just doesn´t click. Too much content..not enough substance and depth. Still a 3 star (60%) rating isn´t all wrong.

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
4 stars Take equal parts of Gabriel-era Genesis and Fish-era Marillion and what you get is Citizen Cain. It becomes quite apparent right from the first track that Citizen Cain is highly influenced by these two bands. Originally released in 1993 on defunct label SI Music and later reissued in 1998 by Cyclops, Serpents in Camouflage was in my opinion one of the better debuts from the 1990s. Indeed, this is the kind of music we all wish Genesis and Marillion had been doing in the 1990s. Citizen Cain was there to fill that void.

I'm not sure if Citizen Cain's purpose was to pay tribute to these two great bands, a response to what those bands had deteriorated into, or a lack of originality. Whatever the case may be, Citizen Cain is often labeled as a clone and for obvious reasons ranging from the near-Gabriel/Fish sounding vocals of lead singer Cyrus to the keyboard solos and soundscapes of Stewart Bell resembling Tony Banks and Mark Kelly. Even lyrically Citizen Cain is quite similar to lyrics one might find on Nursery Cryme or Foxtrot. On the surface, the similarities are quite alarming and may distract some listeners.

However, if you delve deeper and listen more closely to Citizen Cain's music, you may notice that Cyrus' delivery is different from Gabriel or Fish. Yes, his vocal tone is the same, but he seems very monotonic and often lacks melody. In this regard, he has more in common with IQ's singer, Peter Nicholls. Another most interesting point is that Citizen Cain's music makes use of a drum machine. They certainly programmed them well enough that most listeners don't even notice them. Drummer Chris Colvin appears in the credits, but he only performs on the demo bonus track of Stab in the Back. And finally, the lyrics are often dark and seem more structured than Gabriel's were.

If you like Gabriel-era Genesis and Fish-era Marillion, you'll probably love Serpents in Camouflage. If you can't get past the clone-like nature of the music, you probably should avoid. I personally think there's enough different about Citizen Cain that I consider much of what they've done to be quite original. An excellent four-star debut in my book.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars If you´re ever wonder what kind of music Genesis would be doing if Peter Gabriel had stayed after The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway LP, then it might sounded a bit like this CD. Of all the many Genesis-influenced outfits Citzen Cain is one fo the few who really got the Genesis approach to music at the time and took it one step further. Not a copy, for the matter. They really got their spirit and worked their version, which turned out uncanny like a lost Genesis album (in a good way).

Certainly the fact that Cyrus voice sounds like Gabriel helped, but the overall musicanship and songwriting is great (actually it had to be), with some fine keyboards and guitar interplay. Serpents In Camouflage is an album that really surprised me a lot, specially because it came out in a time that prog music was only beginning to rise again. With long songs, clever arrangements and interesting lyrics, the group found its way to many progheads, including me.

Unfortunatly their follow up CDs would not be as good, in my opinion. I guess they wanted to do something diferent and follow that path. It was not my liking, but I hope they´re happy with that. Anyway, I still love this record and it is one fine piece of symphonic rock that has not dated since its release. Highly recommended for Genesis fans in particular and progheads in general.

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After many years of struggle from the early 80s and the gravitating demise of the band's original line- up, it seemed that Citizen Cain's was sealed before the band even had the chance to release an album. Luckily, the arrival of keyboardist/composer Stewart Bell became the catalyst for Citizen Cain's survival, eventually leading to the recording and release of the debut effort "Serpents in Camouflage", back in 1993. With Bell as the main melody writer, Cyrus felt free to develop long apocalyptical lyrics and explore his gusto for Gabriel-like singing (the best Gabriel emulator in British neo-prog, indeed), also leaving his bassist's role behind in favour of the flute. The resulting quintet managed to recapture the Gabriel-era Genesis sound without neglecting the need of creating appealing compositions and developing effective arrangements that justify the usually long durations. The strong presence of atmospheric keyboard layers and the band's global dynamics actually feels closer to Fish-era Marillion and/or 80s IQ than to classic Genesis, with the lead guitarist showing off influences from Hackett, Rothery and Latimer, depending on the moment's mood. The recording sessions were not without their amount of problems - the drummer's unavailability at this crucial moment in the band's history led to CC using a programmed drumming machine (alternating 4/4, 3/4, 7/8 and 5 /4 tempos in pure symphonic fashion!), and even when the album was actually released, the line-up was on the brink of disintegrating. While not as spectacular as the amazing successor "Somewhere but Yesterday" (the best Genesis album never recorded between "The Lamb" and "A Trick"), "Serpents in Camouflage. certainly reveals a band with enough potential as to preserve the candle of symphonic rock through the 90s, a thing eventually confirmed by further releases. well, let's stick to this specific album. 'Stab in the Back' gets things started as a mixture of Marillion's 'He Knows, You Know' and Genesis' 'I Know What I Like', leaning closer to the former's sombre cynicism. Even though this track doesn't comprise rhythmic variations and is less than 7 minutes long, it bears a certain epic aura to it - a great opener it is, indeed. The epic factor comes out in full frontal doses in the next three pieces. 'Liquid Kings' states a more colourful vibe, from the long instrumental intro through the sequence of sung sections; the same goes for 'The Gathering', which actually delivers a fresher approach to the most aggressive side of neo- prog. Between the two is 'Harmless Criminal', where we find a predominant room for lyrical introspectiveness and eerie ambiences: the track's coda states a certain increase of its potential intensity. Fully lyrical is 'Dance of the Unicorn', featuring lovely flute passages and a strong classic symphonic prog feature (as opposed to neo). Well, the album's official repertoire ends with the title track, yet another epic that spectacularly exploits the sorts of moods and climaxes that had been present in epics 2-4: the extended closing section 'Serpents in Camouflage' comprises the most exciting things of 80s British new wave of symphonic prog with its catchy recurrent motif, fluid guitar and synth leads and enthusiastic vocal lines (The serpents have died in camouflage!). The bonus tracks include a real drum kit: one is the demo version of 'Stab in the Back' and the other is a catchy tune that might have been an interesting 4-minute single back in the early 80s alongside Marillion's 'Punch & Judy' or Genesis' 'Turn It On Again'. Overall grade for Citizen Cain's debut album: 3 ¾ stars, that is, almost totally excellent, more than just good.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Since Fish departed from Marillion in 1988, I practically left progressive music because I did not think there was such band that could create great music like Early Marillion. In 1998 I met with my prog friend's son who also a prog head, Ricky, and he introduced me the fact that prog was still alive with bands like IQ "Ever" and he handed me Cyclops catalogue that described list of prog rock releases. I was stunned with the list because many bands that I never heard before like Sinkadus, Citizen Cain, Flamborough Head, etc. Finally I ordered many CDs through Malcolm of Cyclops label. On band that paid my attention was CITIZEN CAIN (weird name?) because the music reminded me to Genesis at Gabriel era. Once I received the CDs of three albums "Serpents in Camouflage", "Somewhere But Yesterday", and "Raising The Stones" I practically played these CDs the whole year and I was stunned with their masterpiece "Somewhere But Yesterday" (1994).

"Serpents In Camouflage" was released a year before the masterpiece and as far as the music quality concern, it sounds a bit raw compared to the masterpiece. I know that this might be a mixing problem. But, overall, it does not hamper the overall music. The key to the music is on Gabriel-like voice line and significant use of keyboards throughout the album with some guitar fills. If you like Genesis Gabriel era, this album serves the purpose.

The opening track "Stab In The Back" (6:49) is truly an excellent symphonic prog rock with nice melody while rhythm section is dominated by beautiful combination of guitar fills and pulsating keyboard work. The song flows nicely from one segment to another, accompanying excellent vocal line of Cyrus. The song also provides nice musical breaks with catchy guitar fills and keyboard work. The combined work of guitar and keyboard is really stunning. The next track "Liquid Kings" (11:25) moves in similar vein but the electric drumming is more dynamic and electric guitar work reminds me to IQ, especially when it's combined with keyboard at intro part of the song. Guitar is now given more chance to perform melody in thin sound. The keyboard that follows reminds me to Marillion's "Garden Party". There are couple of breaks that demonstrate keyboard solo, reminds me to IQ music.

"Harmless Criminal" (10:29) opening showcases acoustic part of Genesis Gabriel era intro part of typical song. You will agree with me that Cyrus singing style is pretty similar with Gabriel. The song has interlude that reminds me to IQ kind of music. "The Gathering" (11:05) has a keyboard intro that reminds me to Marillion's "Incomunicado" even though it's more ambient and once the music enters it sounds differently. The guitar fills remind me to Steve Hackett. "Dance Of The Unicorn" (6:27) starts beautifully with catchy piano work combined with guitar fills accompanying vocal. The music moves combining high drive part with some breaks in Genesis style. The guitar solo with thin sound in the middle of the track is stunning - even though not that long. The part with flute section is really great. The album title track "Serpents In Camouflage" (13:23) is also an excellent composition that deserves much attention. The album concludes with "Nightlights - As The Wheel Turns" (4:06) in mellow style at opening and it then moves in upbeat mode. Unfortunately the recording quality is not that good. There is a bonus track, a demo version of "Stab In The Back" performed live, recorded in not that good sound quality.

Overall, this is "musically" an excellent progressive music collection even though the music is not that original, many influences from other legendary bands. The record quality is not that good. I merely rate the album from musical point of view, so it deserves four stars. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW (i-Rock! Music Community)

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars If PETER GABRIEL had ever joined MARILLION then the result would be very close to CITIZEN CAIN's sound,a band formed from Scottish musicians in London around 1982.Original line-up consisted of Cyrus Scott,Gordon Feenie and Tim Taylor.This trio recorded some tracks between 1982-1988,however they broke up shortly after.In 1990 Cyrus re-formed CITIZEN CAIN with a totally re-freshed line-up and the band released their debut ''Serpents in camouflage'' in 1993 on SI Music,later re-released on Cyclops.

CITIZEN CAIN offer a whole hour of splendid music influenced by the likes of GENESIS and MARILLION,with both mellow and more grandiose parts.Especially vocalist Cyrus sounds like PETER GABRIEL more than Gabriel himself,being one of the best singers/Gabriel-immitators in the prog league!His expressive and theatrical vocals is surrounded by the nice guitar work of Frank Kennedy,who delivers a few heart-breaking solos and distorted passages in the vein of STEVE ROTHERY,and the excellent synth work of Stewart Bell,close to the style of MARILLION's Mark Kelly.Not every music theme in here will remind you of MARILLION,as some light flutes and smooth guitar playing recall GENESIS at their pastoral moments.Every fan of the afore-mentioned bands and musicians will undoubtfully sleep and wake up with CITIZEN CAIN's debut on their CD player.The musicianship,the ideas and the compositional skills of the band are certainly awesome.However,those who dislike bands with lack of originality might turn their back on them.Nevertheless,CITIZEN CAIN are one of the greatest GENESIS/MARILLION-influenced acts around and deserve your attention and support...3.5 stars would be a fair rating,I think...

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Following with my CITIZEN CAIN'S revision, it's time for the excellent "Serpents in Camouflage", an album that seems too mature for a debut release, but which is really their second record, being that "Ghost Dance" (supposedly from 1996, three years after the work under review) was really a demo tape previous to "Serpents" that was only upgraded to CD only after the success of their two first albums.

The disk starts with the powerful "Stab in the Back" and it's pompous intro, which leads after some seconds to a very nice section where all the band show their skills, it's not necessary to mention that "Cyrus" has a vocal range that is close to Gabriel, Fish and Collins (from A Trick of the Tail), but that's where the similarities end, their music is less complex but much more fluid than GENESIS or MARILLION, and the keyboard style is absolutely different to "Banks" or "Kelly"

"Liquid Kings" begins with a strong guitar and bass intro, but soon the keyboard and percussion join to create an atmosphere that floats between the limit that divides Neo Prog from Symphonic.

In this track I do feel some reminiscences of "Wind & Wuthering", but when "Stewart Bell" wants, he creates a unique and incredibly fluid sound that is only interrupted by "Cyrus" and his strong bass

Now is the turn for "Harmless Criminal", a song that starts as a ballad, but with such a mysterious and haunting atmosphere that captured me from the first listen, don't expect many radical changes (only one around the middle), but the rich development is interesting enough. In this song for the first time we notice how skilled "Stewart Bell" is, because his organ performance is absolutely gratifying, and if you add the hard edged and slightly distorted guitar, we are in front of a great composition, the best up to his point.

"The Gathering" is the first CITIZEN CAIN track I heard some years ago, and for this reason one of my favourites, unlike the previous songs, the initial RUSH influence is evident, but they manage to morph it to a MARILLION influenced song with excellent vocal work and great organ, another high point.

Despite the soft piano intro, that leads the listener to expect a simple melodic track, "Dance of the Unicorn" is a complex song that goes "in crescendo" almost from the start, until they reach a point where all the power is released, but always controlling themselves to avoid turning into a Hard Rock track.

The title song is far too elaborate and complex to even try to describe it, so I will only say that it has all the possible moods and atmospheres taking the listener from a calmed section to a frenetic keyboard passage in a matter of seconds and with absolute coherence. Pure Progressive Rock.

The last official song is "Nightlights - As The Wheel Turns", another elaborate composition in which the band shows how versatile they are, jumping from calmed to breathtaking moments, a solid end for the album.

In my CD there's a bonus version of "Stab in the Back", but as usual I refuse to review material that wasn't created for the original release.

Now, to be honest, "Serpents in Camouflage" is not as strong as "Somewhere but Yesterday", but still I don't dare to rate it with less than 4 stars without feeling unfair.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The excellent recent interview by toroddfuglesteg with Stewart Bell from Citizen Cain reminded me that I actually owned an album by the band and now to this overdue review!

I got this album by a mere chance when I was browsing a downtown record store, somewhere around 2001, and stumbled upon an album cover that I just couldn't ignore. This excellent album cover art belonged to Citized Cain's debut album Serpents In Camouflage and everything about it screamed progressive rock, a genre that I was only starting to uncover by that point in my life.

The album consists of six lengthy compositions ranging from 6 to 13 minutes in length. Listening to the album for the first time reminded me a whole lot of a band called Marillion, which I pretty much was discovering simultaneously with this new experience. Listening to the album today gives me more hints of the classic Gabriel-era Genesis with Cyrus clearly trying to sound like Peter Gabriel while Frank Kennedy's guitar reminds me of Steve Hackett but also a whole lot of Steve Rothery. Stewart Bell does a competent job with his keyboard arrangements and he's not really trying to sound like either Tony Banks nor Mark Kelly but does come off sounding very Neo-Prog to my ears with a distinct touch of the IQ sound.

Even though all of these tracks feature their unique moments, I don't really find any of the first five compositions to be memorable enough and the ones that are manage to overstay their welcome by a margin. There are definitely many instances that pay homage to prog classics from the past, like Liquid Kings's intro section that sounds exactly like the intro to Kansas' Song For America, while The Gathering reminds me a lot of Marillion's Garden Party. Fortunately, the albums magnum opus of a title track is something that is well worth waiting for and once it comes around the momentum pretty much sweeps away all the previous signs of unoriginality for me.

I do get a few fond memories whenever I listen to this album but ultimately I can't recommend it to everyone since the sub-genre that Citizen Cain were going for with this release is already overcrowded by many classic acts that this collective can't outmatch in the hook department. Good, but non-essential record that is well worth a listen if you're a fan of Symphonic Prog.

***** star songs: Serpents In Camouflage (13:23)

**** star songs: Stab In The Back (6:50) Harmless Criminal (10:31) Dance Of The Unicorn (6:28)

*** star songs: Liquid Kings (11:27) The Gathering (11:07)

Review by Warthur
3 stars Ahaha. So, you know how people like to diss early Marillion and claim it just sounds like simplified Gabriel-era Genesis? (They're wrong when they say that by the way - Marillion's early sound was a much more interesting blend than that.) Well, take all of those blithe dismissals and apply them to Citizen Cain, because at least as far as this album goes they are entirely true.

In particular, lead vocalist Cyrus' vocal style is so close to Peter Gabriel's in his more flouncey and dramatic theatrical moments in Genesis that it just plain has to be a deliberate imitation - but Cyrus overplays Gabriels' vocal habits so much that it crosses the line into parody. Furthermore, for a lot of the album his vocal delivery isn't nearly as varied as Gabriel's - whereas Gabriel could adopt a sweet, gentle tone at times, Cyrus is locked into the "pretentious proclamation" voice more or less permanently with only a few digressions.

The end result is that I tend to feel that Cyrus is the major stumbling block in Citizen Cain's sound on this debut album - more irritating even than the cheap drum machine they were obligated to use in the recording sessions - which is rather embarrassing for the band given that he's the driving force behind it, being the sole member of the 1980s lineup remaining to take up the mantle here.

Over time I've come to realise that Stewart Bell and Frank Kennedy's musical backing here is something of a saving grace of the album, especially when it comes to Bell, whose mimicry of Mark Kelly and Tony Banks ends up in a slightly more characterful and interesting mix than Cyrus' one-dimensional ripping off of Peter Gabriel. Frank Kennedy is likewise reasonable enough on guitar. It can take a bit to really appreciate their work, however, because the band's compositional chops just aren't there yet and the mix on the album is just a little off, and because Bell is cursed with some rather cheap equipment which sounds cheesy and dated at points.

Something of a problem arises with Citizen Cain's compositional approach; they're playing here a mix of more straight-ahead neo-prog and more complex symphonic material, and they're actually much better on the simpler sections mostly because they aren't tripping over themselves during them. In the more complex parts they seem to lash sections of music together by blending the crescendos of Genesis songs into a paste and showboating constantly, not realising that it the buildup to such crescendos was an absolutely vital part of the original compositions which can't be dispensed with lightly.

On the whole, Citizen Cain come across like major league Genesis fans who wanted to produce a neo-proggy update of their favourite band, but didn't quite understand how Genesis put their songs together and what influences shaped them, so they end up mimicing the most obvious and distinctive quirks of the Genesis style without any deeper appreciation or mastery of the underpinnings of the great ones' craft.

In other words, Citizen Cain is cargo cult Genesis. Their saving grace is that they're clearly quite good at the whole clone game - good enough to make this album an entertaining listen if you can set aside the somewhat shaky production values, and you don't expect anything other than what Gabriel-era Genesis and Fish-era Marillion already delivered in spades on their original albums.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Serpents in Camouflage is a clever little album, created by a not too well known group, Citizen Cain. The first iteration of Citizen Cain was formed in the eighties, and after releasing a demo and album, it fell apart. Lead singer and oft times bassist Cyrus joined up with keyboardist Stewart ... (read more)

Report this review (#91540) | Posted by Foxtrot | Sunday, September 24, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Ug. I had saved this for last, as I kept reading that it was very much like early Marillion. Now, I like early Marillion to a certain extent, and I really like Citizen Cain, so I decided to get it if for no other reason than to have all of CCs albums. Well, it is very much in the 80's neo prog ... (read more)

Report this review (#76584) | Posted by | Friday, April 28, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars If you love early Genesis, chances are you'll appreciate Citizen Cain. Excellent musicianship, extended arrangements, and serendipitous song structure make for intriguing listening. Lead singer Cyrus is a dead ringer for Peter Gabriel, and his lyrics are inventive and interesting. Another plus ... (read more)

Report this review (#1433) | Posted by | Thursday, June 17, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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