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Citizen Cain

Symphonic Prog

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Citizen Cain Playing Dead album cover
3.37 | 84 ratings | 15 reviews | 14% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2002

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Dirge - Fallen Angels (3:20)
2. Children Of Fire - Prometheus And Epimetheus - Forethought - Afterthought (13:29)
3. Shades (4:22)
4. Falling From Sephiroth - Etz Ha-Chayim (15:31)
5. Rivers Of Twilight - The War Between Two Minds (7:38)
6. Inner Silence - Beware The God You Choose (2:38)
7. Wandering In Darkness (10:24)
8. Sleeping In Penumbra - Your Mind, Its Mind, Whose Mind? (9:51)
9. Amorantos (Eternity) (3:29)

Total time 70:42

Line-up / Musicians

- George Scott "Cyrus" / lead vocals, bass
- Phill Allen / guitar, backing vocals
- Stewart Bell / keyboards, drums

Releases information

Artwork: George Scott "Cyrus"

CD Pig In A Poke Records ‎- none (2002, UK)
CD Festival Music - 201212E (2013, UK) Remastered by Mike Varty

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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CITIZEN CAIN Playing Dead ratings distribution

(84 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(14%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(35%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (13%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

CITIZEN CAIN Playing Dead reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Greger
5 stars Citizen Cain was formed back in 1982. It has gone four years since their last album " Raising the Stones" and it isn't until now I've had the great pleasure to hear the band. And what a nice surprise! "Playing dead" is one of the better albums I've heard recently.

The band sounds a lot like early Genesis but with a more modern sound. The vocals singed by the bassist Cyrus reminds of Peter Gabriel, and that's of course an explanation why they sound like early Genesis. There are also reminiscences to neo-progressive rock la Marillion and Pendragon, and the complexity of the music makes you think of King Crimson and even Yes at times. This is what I define as good old classic progressive rock in the true spirit of the genre.

This might be a future progressive classic, at least it's gonna be one of the better albums this year. If you're still isn't convinced you can find MP3 clips for download on The Citizen Cain website, but there's really no need for that, order the album immediately. Highly recommended!

Review by maani
4 stars Actually, I'm being just a tad generous with my rating here: the album probably deserves three-and-three-quarter stars (if we are to consider it in light of the entire prog-rock genre). And like "Disturbance" by Versus X, I feel like I'm being somewhat "bamboozled" here, and that the band seems (in some places) to be "making it up as they go along." However, unlike "Disturbance" (which I panned), it is simply impossible to deny the sheer creativity of this album - even if they ARE making it up as they go along. There are influences (Genesis, Gentle Giant, Yes, maybe a bit of Crimson), but they are largely "subsumed" into the whole. The overall "style" (if there is one) is probably most akin to Genesis, in as much as the instrumentation, some of the arrangements, and especially the vocals (which are shamelessly Gabriel-esque) reflect that (even the lyrics remind me of Genesis). But on much of this album, these guys are WAY too far out there for Genesis; in fact, they are SO far out there sometimes that one gets that sense that there is not even a "direction" or "inner logic" to some of the sections. (In places, the effect is so frenetic that it sounds like what you would get if you played a Genesis album, a Gentle Giant album, and a Yes album simultaneously on different stereos, and tried to pay attention to all of them at the same time.) Although all the tracks are good, two of the most interesting are the short instrumentals, "Fallen Angels" and "Inner Silence." The former is actually one of the most creative prog-rock instrumentals I have ever heard; the latter less so, but nevertheless unique. / The reason I am giving this album a higher rating than most is not because I believe it is equal to some of the "classics" that receive that high a rating from me. Rather, I am impressed not only by the creativity of the album, but by the fact that it is essentially brand new: i.e., I am just so pleased that ANYONE can still be so creative in prog-rock as to almost defy description or categorization. I strongly urge all my colleagues to give this one a listen and "report in."
Review by loserboy
3 stars With all of their previous releases in my collection, I could hardly wait to get my hands on CITIZEN CAIn's latest release "Playing Dead" which I can report with confidence has been definitely worth the "four year itch" (4 years since their last release). For those unfamiliar with CITIZEN CAIN let me introduce you to what I think GENESIS really would have sounded like if they have not become the Phil COLLINS all star band... CITIZEN CAIN are Stewart Bell (keyboards/drums), Cyrus (bass/lead vocals) and Phil Allen (guitars/backing vocals).
Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Don't worry "Red" fans, "Fallen Angels" is not a KING CRIMSON cover tune, but it does contain some great guitar work in a modern heavy style which continues throughout the album. Indeed, this power trio is skilled and disciplined, and know how to construct songs which display their talents without indulging in lengthy egocentric solos. The lead vocals are more than a little GENESIS-like, occasionally a bit heavy on the drama but more often perfectly suiting the material. Songs like "Children of Fire", "Rivers of Twilight", "Wandering in Darkness", and "Sleeping in Penumbra" are solid narrative prog with classic influences ("Trespass" as well as "Trick of the Tail" GENESIS fans are generally cared for) as well as modern heavier sounds. Some of the more intricate guitar and synth harmonies (such as the beginning and end of "Shades", "Rivers of Twilight" or much of "Falling from Sephiroth") don't quite mesh- at worst they sound like passages from a ZOOGZ RIFT song. I wonder whether "Falling from Sephiroth" refers to the Kabbalah or the Final Fantasy character? Hard to say from the lyrics, but the conclusion of the song boasts an excellent half-tempo section that is one of the highlights of the album, even if it is too short. "Rivers of Twilight" features some good organ work and another soaring narrative. "Inner Silence" probably should have been kept silent; the giggle that the Monty Python sample elicits isn't worth the inclusion of this track. My main criticism is that they rarely produce an emotional response; there's plenty of talent and energy but not enough feeling. "Eternity" and bits of "Sleeping in Penumbra" come closest to expressing some emotion, but never quite makes it. When there is a story to be told, the lyrics work fairly well, but all too often they suggest the artistically banal blather of any Christian rock band. Also, the keyboard tones are a bit lacking; sometimes they sound good (the hammond, or virtual hammond, is nice and dirty), sometimes they're appropriate but nothing special (the bulk of the pads and sweeps), but too often they sound cheap and dated. I would be less critical if this was a DX7-obsessed 80s band but with the current synth-making renaissance there is no excuse for a cheesy keyboard sound. Despite my criticisms, I readily admit that this album fits well within the progressive rock genre and I'm sure it won't be disappointing for fans who like heavier progressive sound.
Review by Peter
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I have listened to this disc many times now, and my initial response was more positive than my current opinion of it. I find myself in agreement with fellow Archives reviewer James Lee, who writes that on PLAYING DEAD, Scottish prog-rockers Citizen Cain "rarely produce an emotional response; there's plenty of talent... but not enough feeling."

The band do a pretty workmanlike job of capturing some of the sound and feeling of early Genesis (an obvious inspiration), and vocalist Cyrus has a voice which is more than slightly similar to Peter Gabriel's, but PLAYING DEAD does not offer the diversity of moods to be found on albums like FOXTROT or SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND. Whereas early Genesis is, by turns, powerful, majestic, daunting, beautiful, and light-hearted, Citizen Cain adhere far too much to a bland, grey palette of lyrical bitterness and gloom (they seem to be a tad upset with the Supreme Being), and depressingly dirge-like tempos and atmospheres. In short, this album brings me down, and wearies me -- I find it a decided chore to get through in a single session.

Citizen Cain have obvious talent, and the album is "not without its moments," but the sections that begin to capture my interest are far too few and fleeting. As James noted, the song "Inner Silence," with its "and now for something completely different" Monty Python sample, would seem to proffer some light-hearted relief from the overall bombast and darkness, but it is not to be -- we are soon plunged willy-nilly back into the pit of despair. Beauty (in the guise of some nice piano and evocative lyrics, sensitively sung) does manage to rear its pretty head for a quick look around on the final track, "Eternity," but by that time, having slogged through such vast expanses of dank musical mire to find her, I am rather sullied, and no fitting company for such a fair lady. Too little, too late!

Thus, PLAYING DEAD does not accord with my tastes -- I like more variety, both musically and thematically, in my progressive rock, and there is a dearth of that here. If, however, you have a taste for dark and somber prog, are upset with God, or are just too darned cheery for your own good, you may "enjoy" this. For this reviewer, however, it is far too bitter a pill to willingly swallow entire. For fans only.

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With their astonishingly impressive predecessor "Raising the Stones", Citizen Cain achieved their own stylistic independence with the creation of a signature prog sound based fundamentally on eerie, dense (at times somber and even creepy) ambiences and extremely bizarre chord progressions. It would tale hem 5 years to release the follow- up, "Playing Dead", which continues in a similar vein than the aforementioned album, with an added clear inclination toward the prog metal realms. This new factor comes into the CC sound by courtesy of new member Phil Allen, who lays lots of effective riffs and powerful solos and harmonies among the predominant keyboard paraphernalia: keyboardist- drummer Stewart Bell continues to be the main mastermind of the crucial orchestrations of the whole repertoire, while Cyrus remains a solid Gabriel-esque messenger of doom, darkness and poetic mysticism (once again, great Milton-esque lyrics!!). So, just like "Raising", "Playing Dead" exhibits lots of ethereal synth layers, psychedelic and dissonant Celtic-like fanfares, jazz rock colours in the rhythm section, and an almost obsessive penchant for dazzling complexity. The overall mood conveyed in this album is the most aggressive and harsh in the band's history, while keeping a loyal faith in that confident sense of mysterious exquisiteness that they have been creating so fluidly since their "Somewhere but Yesterday" days. The instrumental opening 'Dirge - Fallen Angels' portrays a fair indication things to come for the next 65 minutes. 'Wandering in Darkness', 'Children of Fire' and the disturbing interlude 'Inner Silence' contain some of the most explosive moments in the album; meanwhile, 'Falling from Semiroth' and 'Sleeping in Penumbra' turn out to be the most sophisticated and pompous numbers in the track list, rolling between the incendiary and the reflective with well-crafted fluidness. The closing nocturne 'Amorantos' conveys a vision of pessimism and desolation in a serene context, linked very coherently to the trial of emotional-intellectual fire that was offered in each one of the previous tracks. In conclusion, through all its somberness and inscrutability, "Playing Dead" is an excellent example of neo-prog stretched out to its most disturbing expresiveness.
Review by hdfisch
4 stars Edited 09/26/05!

Their latest album needs for sure a couple of spins more than the previous one which was still more or less a nice album much in the GENESIS / MARILLION vein, but not that much intricate. Here things are completely different, they managed to find a more original and independent style and one could rather name GENTLE GIANT as a strong influence. The degree of complexity can be compared with the one of masterpieces like CTTE or IN A GLASS HOUSE. Apart of being very intricate the compositions here are quite somber and the only Genesis resemblance still present is the Gabriel-esque voice of Cyrus. New Guitarist Phil Allen is presenting an excellent guitar work and after one has finally found access to the music, it's really an enjoyable album and definitely a grower ."Falling from Sephiroth" , "Rivers of twilight" or "Sleeping in Penumbra" are just awesome tracks just to name a few highlights. But the whole album has a very high value for money ratio

As a SUMMARY I'd like to say that "Playing Dead" is for sure their best and most intricate release so far and for me one of the best albums in symphonic prog of the new millennium. Anyone who likes well-done dark and intricate prog more in a 70's style but not too much derivative should check out this album and although I'm careful to give it the full score, I'm quite sure it deserves 4,5 stars.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars When Citizen Cain "Somewhere But Yesterday" was released I was so happy that finally I could find a band in early Genesis vein. I searched the net on who actually Citizaen Cain was and I hoped that the band would continue their direction with "Somewhere" album. "Playing Dead" was taking too long to make and I almost lost my patience waiting for this album. But when it finally came out, it did not fully meet my expectation even though this album is not bad at all but it's way inferior compared to their excellent work with "Somewhere But Yesterday". I know, the band must have thought to push their envelope but it does not seem catch up into certain standards imposed by their fans base. The album starts with a kind of overture "Fallen Angels" and moves into second track "Children of Fire" with Gabrielish vocal and guitar work. The structure is a bit complex even though it's not really complex. There are piano parts that remind me to Kansas. "Shades" is a good song but the structure and flow seem like being forced to sound like this. "Falling From Sephiroth" is an epic with an intro part reminds me to "Watcher of The Skies" of Genesis. Cyrus voice which sounds like Gabriel is a thread for me especially when acoustic guitar and keyboard accompany his first lyrical part. "Rivers of Twilight" has a flavor of ELP music as the keyboard elements sound that way. "Wandering In Darkness" is also a good song with complex arrangements combining keyboard and guitar. "Sleeping In Penumbra" has a mellow beginning with piano and powerful vocal. There is guitar fills reminiscent of Hackett. The album is closed with mellow track "Eternity" using piano and vocal. It's a good track to conclude the album.

If you like early Genesis music, you may like this one. Of course "Playing Dead" has more modern sounds. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars Last "Citizen Cain" album so far. This "Genesis" clone has released some good albums (two) in their early days. To me their last studio album "Raising the Stones" was a deception and I wondered if they would bounce back again orjust fell lower. So, let's hear.

Strangely enough, the opening track sounds almost as a "Crimson" one. Heavy riff, hard beat. Rather different than their fully "Genesis" music. But I guess it was just some sorts of diversion since "Children Of Fire" sounds again as a pure "Citizen Cain" song but like in "Raising..." this one will be rather flat. I already mentioned that the songwritting was defectuous in some of their tracks and the same feeling applies here.

Fully Gabrielesque voice (even exaggerated sometimes), poor (or no) melody, no great keys break like they used to play. Thirteen minutes of boring music. Without any structure. Passionless.

Usually, Cyrus sounded good while he was singing, but in this album he is totally out of focus. My only hopes could reside in the epic "Falling From Sephiroth" but it is hopeless. Actually, the more I listen to this album, the more I dislike it. When I discovered it some three years ago, I was so hungry for "Genesis" related music that I rated as an eigh stars album (I used to rate albums on a scale of ten before starting to post reviews on PA). But my current rating will be far much less than that.

The whole of this leeeeeeeenghty release (over seventy minutes) shows a tired band. Totally uninspired IMHHO (humble an honest). I can't find any stand out tracks that could raise this album to the three star level, so it will be two stars. Just stick to their early albums "Serpents In Camouflage and "Somewhere But Yesterday". You would do yourself a favour.

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
4 stars I'm most familiar with Citizen Cain's first two albums (Serpents in Camouflage and Somewhere But Yesterday) and have yet to listen to their next two offerings (Ghost Dance and Raising the Stones). Citizen Cain's biggest influence was Genesis and a bit of Marillion. Lead vocalist Cyrus often sounded like a hybrid of Peter Gabriel and Fish, but had the delivery of Peter Nicholls of IQ. Their 2002 release, Playing Dead, was an altogether different animal.

Playing Dead still retains some Genesis influences, but shows a much more adventurous band incorporating some King Crimson and Van der Graaf Generator influences. Instead of the Banksian-styled keyboard work keyboardist Stewart Bell showed in their first two releases, his approach is more a combination of jazzy-style piano and electric piano with solemn background soundscapes. Once in awhile he rips out a Banksian line. New guitarist Phil Allen is from the Steve Hackett and Steve Howe schools of guitar playing. His playing is more aggressive than previous guitarists and provides a much needed role that was barely present in earlier Citizen Cain offerings.

Lead singer Cyrus is new and improved too. There is more emotion in his voice, which is almost absent in his earlier efforts. He sounds less like Gabriel or Fish or even Nicholls. His tone is still similar, but his delivery is definitely more different. This was also a wonderful improvement.

I'm wondering about the drumming on this album. Keyboardist Stewart Bell has been credited with this role and I'm not entirely sure if these were on an actual drum set or programmed. If he actually used a drum set, then he's quite a talented musician. If they were programmed, it's almost flawless as they seem very real-like.

I still don't think this album is as good as Somewhere But Yesterday, but it's clearly the second best release by Citizen Cain and definitely the most original. The only other negative comment I have is that the album seems a bit too long. If Shades, Fallen Angels, and Eternity could have been removed from the track listing, the album would arguably be a masterpiece. A well deserved four stars.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars This is the latest studio album from CITIZEN CAIN although a new release is apparently just around the corner.There's a new guitarist on "Playing Dead" which helps make this sound somewhat different from earlier releases especially since there is often this metalic tone to his guitar. The cover art has me asking "What were they thinking !".

"Fallen Angels" opens with atmosphere along with these powerful background sounds. A beat a minute in with some heaviness. A cool way to start and my favourite track. "Children Of Fire" features vocals and a laid back sound 30 seconds in. Man he sounds like Gabriel here. It gets a little fuller with guitar. Some heavier guitar 4 1/2 minutes in when the vocals stop. Piano a minute later as different sounds come and go.Vocals are back 7 1/2 minutes in. A calm before 10 1/2 minutes but it doesn't last long. Prominant guitar late. "Shades" opens with drums then it kicks in quickly. A calm after a minute. Piano a minute later and vocals after 2 1/2 minutes. It kicks in late to end it.

"Falling From Sephiroth" opens with synths as some heavy outbursts come and go.Vocals before 2 minutes then it kicks in a minute later. Nice.The tempo and mood continue to shift. "Rivers Of Twilight" is uptempo and bombastic to start then it settles in with reserved vocals. Piano too then it kicks back in around 3 1/2 minutes. It settles once more with vocals before 5 minutes. "Inner Silence" has these experimental noises with drums. It kicks in for the final minute. "Wandering In Darkness" opens in a bombastic manner some good bass follows.Vocals after 1 1/2 minutes in this uptempo tune. It settles back before 4 minutes. I like when it kicks in as we get a good instrumental section.Vocals do return though. "Sleeping In Penumbra" opens with piano and vocals and it gets fuller before a minute.The tempo proceeds to change. A powerful section before 7 minutes then it settles back. "Eternity" opens with reserved vocals and keys and that's pretty much what we get throughout.

A good album but like all their others (except for "Somewhere But Yesterday") it doesn't deserve 4 stars. The guitar and vocals get on my nerves on this album after a while.

Review by kev rowland
4 stars It has been way too long since I last heard a new Citizen Cain album, and I see that this one was actually released at the end of last year. I also note that the X's have been dropped, so the band is again Citizen Cain and Cyrus is, again, Cyrus. The line-up has also been fluid, something that the band have suffered with over the years, but Cyrus is now not only providing vocals but also bass, as he used to years ago, and for this album Stewart Bell has not only provided keyboards but also drums, again as he used to years ago. They have now been completed by guitarist Phil Allen.

It took nearly three years to record, and much of the momentum gained from their earlier superb albums such as 'Serpents In Camouflage' has been lost, and the new album has been released on their own label whereas the reissues of their SI albums had been on Cyclops. So is this enough to be able to get them noticed again?

Hopefully the answer to that will be a resounding 'yes', as yet again Cyrus and Stewart have produced an album that will have critics and progheads alike wanting to play it repeatedly. Citizen Cain will always find themselves compared to old-school Genesis because of Cyrus's vocal style, and the fact that he can sound uncannily like Gabriel when he wishes to. But, and it is a big but, this not an album of a Genesis copyist but rather an album that takes that musical ideal and moves with it. Genesis may have become something of a parody of their former selves but CC have shown that it is possible to develop that musical style into something that is still worthy of the label 'prog'. I love the Python excerpt in 'Inner Silence'.

The underground scene isn't nearly as active as when they first came onto the scene, or even the second time, but now they are back for the third with a complex complicated album that any proghead will surely enjoy. It's time for progheads to rediscover the joys of Citizen Cain.

Originally appeared in Feedback #76, Oct 2003

Review by Warthur
4 stars With Phill Allen joining as a full member of the band on guitar, Citizen Cain are able to offer up a somewhat more intricate offering on Playing Dead than they did on the preceding Raising the Stones, which saw them exploring a (comparatively) stripped-down sound having to act as a duo. One of my recurring complaints about the group has been that Cyrus' vocals have been a bit ham-fisted - OK, sure, it's an uncannily close imitation of Peter Gabriel from his Genesis period, but it's mostly been in one particular mode and has lacked subtlety in the past.

Here, Cyrus takes a more rounded approach to things (though with occasionally poor mixing decisions leaving Cyrus' calmer moments somewhat drowned out by the music), pointing to a perhaps more well-rounded direction for Citizen Cain in the future. Whilst I'd say it still doesn't hit the peak of Somewhere But Yesterday overall, the compositions are becoming more intricate again, which helps create a sense of development and progression over Raising the Stones, and by building on that foundation the band manage to be less slavishly imitative of Genesis whilst still using those Genesis ideas which work well in context.

Latest members reviews

4 stars At this point, I can't really understand the Genesis references (though the Sleeping in Penumbra does have a bit of that style in the beginning and end sections). Musically, this is nothing like Genesis in any way, aside from the fact that they use keyboards, guitar, bass and drums (and mostly a ... (read more)

Report this review (#76582) | Posted by | Friday, April 28, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Not bad for a Genesis album! Although the music is rather well composed and played in a very classic prog way with some metal guitar riffs here and there, the vocals are simply the exact replica of what Peter Gabriel sang 30 years ago. How could anyone call this creative? ... (read more)

Report this review (#1469) | Posted by | Saturday, July 3, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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