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KINDLY BENT TO FREE US

Cynic

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal


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Cynic Kindly Bent To Free Us album cover
3.69 | 136 ratings | 8 reviews | 22% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 2014

Songs / Tracks Listing

01. True Hallucination Speak
02. The Lion's Roar
03. Kindly Bent To Free Us
04. Infinite Shapes
05. Moon Heart Sun Head
06. Gitanjali
07. Holy Fallout
08. Endlessly Bountiful
09. Earth Is My Witness (deluxe CD book exclusive bonus track)

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Paul Masvidal / vocals, guitars
- Sean Reinert / drums, percussion

Releases information

Label: Season Of Mist
February 14, 2014

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
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CYNIC Kindly Bent To Free Us ratings distribution


3.69
(136 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(22%)
22%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
32%
Good, but non-essential (30%)
30%
Collectors/fans only (10%)
10%
Poor. Only for completionists (6%)
6%

CYNIC Kindly Bent To Free Us reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Kindly Bent to Free Us' - Cynic (69/100)

As someone gets older, it's inevitable that some degree of mellowing out will occur. While the pessimistic among us might chalk it up to losing steam and passion, a more realistic way to look at it would be to see it as a reinvention of perspective, a natural development that comes with insight and experience. At least such has been the case for Cynic. Death metal was indelibly changed in 1994 with Focus, its unique blend of death metal, prog, jazz fusion and space ambient remains a unique statement that has never been repeated, even with the release of Traced in Air in 2008. With such a distinct and firm grip of style, Cynic would and could have forged a remarkable career without having changed a thing about their sound...

As it so unfolded (and as anyone who has been following the band will be able to tell you) change was exactly what happened for Cynic. Fast forward to 2014; fans are up in arms over Kindly Bent to Free Us. I've heard it called everything from a masterpiece to the worst piece of garbage this side of Cold Lake. As is usually the case, the truth is somewhere in the middle. Cynic's third album may lack the 'instant classic' masterpiece appeal of their first two, but the band's evolution into mellower depths has still yielded an impressive set of material. Death metal purists should go back to polishing their Demilich records; Kindly Bent to Free Us isn't quite what we had been expecting or hoping for, but its solid songwriting, tight fusion musicianship and a knack for atmosphere have made for a successful prog rock record.

Two things have changed most prominently with this record, when compared to their past work. Most notably, the growling has been tossed out entirely, instead lending the weight of the vocal duties to Paul Masvidal's fragile cleans. Even though the preceding EP Carbon- Based Anatomy followed the purely clean format, a far greater emphasis in the music have been placed on clean vocals, drawing it closer to a more traditional rock format. Secondly- and far more importantly- the atmosphere and tone has filtered out much of the dark heart and melancholy. Check out a song like "The Lion's Roar", and everything from the trademark synthesized vocals to the tight and peppy guitar riffs deliver a vastly different emotional atmosphere than what one might be used to from metal or even progressive rock.

The musical approach feels more straightforward on the surface, but Cynic deliver an impressive level of sonic depth to the performance. Kindly Bent to Free Us enjoys a masterful quality of production and recording; this is headphone music at its most sublime. "True Hallucination Speak" fleshes out an otherwise straightforward rock tune with effects manipulation that would have sounded incredible even on its own. Masvidal's guitar tone has some bite to it, but there's an evident emphasis on clarity. Sean Malone's bass tone has been getting a fair bit of recognition as well, and for good reason; his fretless bass lines sound like they've been drawn from a purely jazz context, and sound incredible when placed among Cynic's rock (or metal) foundation. I don't mean to imply that Cynic's songwriting relies on production wizardry or strong musicianship to get by, but Cynic's execution is far more impressive than the substance of the work itself. The only exception to this lies in Masvidal's vocal performance itself. Although I don't think he is a bad singer, his fragile vocal style really needed the growls to balance it out, and the almost ubiquitous 'robot' vocorder effect feels less like an artistic statement at this point and more of a way to pad an otherwise thin performance.

Kindly Bent to Free Us has certainly grown on me, at least enough for me to acknowledge it as being better than what its detractors have dismissed it has. Cynic haven't lost a shred of their technical abilities, and fans of the fusion metal template won't come away empty handed. I'm still enjoying the album, even long after the familiarity has set in. Without the context of Cynic's past achievements, I may have been more enthusiastic about it; the truth is that in spite of my enjoyment, I cannot help but feel disappointed. Carbon-Based Anatomy included, I have fallen in love with everything Cynic put out before this. Kindly Bent to Free Us, via unfavourable comparison, strikes me as more of a passing affection. " Focus has solidified its place in the legendary pantheon, and Traced in Air felt like an instant classic had been born when it came out. Kindly Bent to Free Us offers none of that awe or promise. It's a disappointment in itself that the impression has been brutalized so much by the context, but expectations were expectations. Fortunately enough, if you're able to get past that red tape and approach the album without the context, there's plenty of enjoyment and wonder to behold in the mellower approach. Take it for what it is, I guess.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#1139998) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, February 28, 2014

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Kindly Bent To Free Us" is the 3rd full-length studio album by US progressive rock/metal Cynic. The album was released through Season of Mist in February 2014. It's been six years since the release of "Traced in Air (2008)", but in the intermediate time Cynic released the two EPs "Re-Traced (2010)" and "Carbon-Based Anatomy (2011)". They also put out an archival release in 2012 titled "The Portal Tapes", which is a re-release of the 1995 Portal demo. Portal was a shortlived project featuring the core members of Cynic, founded after the latter disbanded. In addition to working on those releases, Cynic have also toured. Probably more than they ever did when they were initially active. So in short there are several reasons for the long break between the two full-length studio albums. Another reason is probably the core philosophy of of the band. While they definitely don't lack neither drive nor ambition, there has always been a tranquil and laid back vibe about them and a feeling that they will only release something when they are 100% satisfied with the material they've written. On this album they work as a trio consisting of Paul Masvidal (vocals, guitars), Sean Malone (bass, Chapman Stick) and Sean Reinert (drums, keyboards).

The music on "Kindly Bent To Free Us" is probably best described as progressive/alternative rock/metal with jazz/fusion elements and a psychadelic vibe. The latter is mostly due to the sometimes Beatlesque vocal lines and harmonies, but the whole atmosphere reeks incense smelling rooms and laid back days in the sun. Paul Masvidal has always been fascinated by spirituality and although some of the lyrics on "Kindly Bent To Free Us" make absolutely no sense, they still bring a smile to my face and they generally suit the tripped out atmosphere of the album well. The organic and warm sound production also supports that particular atmosphere perfectly. I'm not going to say we're completely in hippie land, but the thought of peace loving hippies often cross my mind while listening to "Kindly Bent To Free Us". On the other hand there is a sweet melancholy to the music too, so it's an album that explore different emotions.

The album features a sound that is very different from what we've heard from the band before, and yet again it sounds unmistakably like Cynic. The tracks are generally less metal oriented (only subdued clean and mellow vocals on this one. No growling) and less technical in nature and also a little more tightly structured and as a consequence more easily accessible compared to earlier material by the band. That's not to say, that the music on "Kindly Bent To Free Us" is simple or that there aren't technically challenging parts being played, because that is far from the truth. There is still fusion influenced drumming and a very busy fretless bass (chapman stick is used too) driving the music forward, but on top, the guitars, the vocals and the keyboards flow in an almost carefree atmospheric fashion. The material is greatly dynamic with both loud parts and more mellow subdued parts.

While the new musical direction probably comes as a surprise (or a shock) for some listeners, it really shouldn't if you payed attention to the musical style on the two preceeding EPs, which both featured a mellow and pleasant sound with only few metal elements. Also if you're familiar with Paul Masvidal's and Sean Reinert's alternative rock project 'on Spoke, the sound on "Kindly Bent To Free Us" might not be so surprising after all.

The 41:52 minutes long album features 8 tracks (9 if you own the deluxe CD book, which features the bonus track "Earth Is My Witness"). it's an album with a great flow, and while the material is consistent in quality and style, there are still enough variation between tracks, to easily distinguish between them. Telling the tracks apart is also helped along by the melodic and quite memorable vocal melodies. At first they might not seem that memorable, but once they get in your mind, they stick. A good example is the opening melody line in the title track, which returns in various forms throughout that track.

So is it any good? Well...this is definitely one of those releases where the listener's expectations and will to accept and embrace new musical ideas will be seriously tested. Cynic are still mostly known in progressive extreme metal circles and most of their fans probably come from that segment, and since they've considerably toned down the extreme metal elements here, the music on the album might not go down too well with the part of their fan base that still see them primarily as a metal act. On the other hand they've undeniably progressed and developed their sound in accordance with their creative muse, and it's always fascinating when an artist pursue what they really feel for instead of trying to satisfy their more conservative fans. In other words this is a fan base divider. Personally I find the album incredibly charming. I don't know what it is about Cynic, but with or without death growls, metal elements, furious fusion drumming, and blistering jazzy guitar solos, they always manage to transport me to a tranquil place and leave me in a completely relaxed state of mind. The music on "Kindly Bent To Free Us" is no exception. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is deserved.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#1156984) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, April 03, 2014

Latest members reviews

4 stars Well, the Cynic have come back!! "Kindly Bent To Free Us"(KBFU) follow the previous "Traced in Air" after 6 years. Judging from the final result, the waiting has been well paid, because Paul Masvidal (Vocals, Guitars, Keys, Synth), Sean Malone (Fretless bass, Chapman stick) and Sean Reinert (Dr ... (read more)

Report this review (#1285250) | Posted by FrankPatxi | Sunday, September 28, 2014 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I think when the buzz started around Cynic's new album, Kindly Bent To Free Us, I was probably the only one in need of introduction. The band released a legendary album in the early 90s, titled Focus, that existed more in a death metal-inspired world of progressive music, which is probably why ... (read more)

Report this review (#1211394) | Posted by Daggor | Friday, July 11, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Kindly Bent To Free Us is my first album from Cynic, so I want it to be known that the merits of this release are not being compared to the other two albums that are highly rated. When I first saw that Cynic had shorter albums and no epic 20 minute songs, I was less than thrilled to give them a sho ... (read more)

Report this review (#1199747) | Posted by javajeff | Sunday, June 29, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Your old gods are dead, but they still speak. Kindly Bent To Free Us, Prog-metal band Cynic's 3rd full studio album in 22 years (long story) is not the prog album your parents used to listen to. Hell, it's not even the prog album you used to listen to. This is prog for the 21st century and it sits ... (read more)

Report this review (#1189931) | Posted by SteveG | Monday, June 09, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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 posit ... (read more)

Report this review (#1153147) | Posted by Aldebaran_Well | Tuesday, March 25, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Like Marshmallow You know, I was thinking of starting this review by talking about something like Cynic's past or their influence, or maybe how this album is being unnecessarily panned, or maybe the production or the vocals on this record, but I just can't, because there really is just one th ... (read more)

Report this review (#1131376) | Posted by Gallifrey | Thursday, February 13, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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