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The Kindred - Life in Lucidity CD (album) cover


The Kindred


Heavy Prog

3.75 | 11 ratings

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4 stars The Ambition or the Enjoyment

Firstly, I guess I have to mention it - I'm glad they changed their name and I never would have listened to this if they still had that ridiculous mallcore-BTBAM name.

I think the first thing that is truly notable about Life In Lucidity, and certainly what impressed me the most when I listened intently, is how detailed everything here is. I know that a lot of this tech- prog-metal stuff, the 'djent that isn't djent' stuff, is pretty much made for teenagers in their bedrooms to jerk off at time signatures to, but instead of just piling odd meter on odd meter, the Kindred have a different sort of intricacy here. My active listening notes for this were rather an interesting, because when you listen closely to everything happening, you really do hear a whole lot of additional parts that really aren't too evident when you first hear it.

From my notes to the opening of "Wolvish"-

"Weird vocals.

Is that a fucking sax?

Wow what the fuck there's a sax."

And in nearly every track here, the Kindred have thrown in some sort of left-field instrument or part, making this album quite an eclectic listen. Straight after the saxy sax in "Wolvish" (and the reggae-ska break and the ragtime segment and then the trumpet at the end) we have a really odd violin part following in "Heritage", playing a single note that's barely within human hearing range, and only ever coming down on rare occasions to add a bit of flourish to the guitar parts. And then "Everbound" has some really odd synth part that comes in the opening, and the guitar solo also has a pretty interesting slide effect on it, and then we have "An Evolution of Thought" with that Hammond organ, and the return of the violin and?

I could go on.

There's not denying that the Kindred have stocked this full of really interesting and eclectic instrumentals, but it's not just that that makes listening to this album intently so captivating. The band also shows ridiculously good use of counterpoint and making the parts mesh together in a fascinating way. The guitar parts here, although heavy, rarely stick around chugging for too long, they'll instead find a nice groove and play harmony to the bass and keys and whatever other odd instrument they've thrown in for the track. There are hints of both The Human Abstract and Protest the Hero in this, especially THA whenever I hear Beethoven-inspired arpeggio, but I feel the Kindred even do it better than them, since THA spend most of their time beating off Beethoven, and Protest have always jut been a pile-riffs-together kind of band, no matter how intricate they are.

But as much as I can praise the ambition and creativity that has gone into the intricate details on Life In Lucidity, I really can't enjoy the album itself as much more than an academic "wow, I liked that sax part" kind of way. First and foremost, the vocalist is a massive barrier, showcasing one of those love-it-or-hate-it deliveries, and honestly there are points when I feel both. He's certainly unique, I'll give him that, but as much as the vocals, especially during the more metal sections, are interesting, I can't exactly say they're good. He reminds me a bit of The Safety Fire's Sean McWeeney and Fair to Midland's Darroh Sudderth at different points on this record, but also has Claudio Sánchez' obsession with trying to make everything he does sound weird. Fortunately for those who can't stand him (and I'm sure there are many), the vocals are not pushed too highly in the mix, and regularly just feel like an extra layer of percussion, especially due to the fact that you can barely even make out lyrics.

The other major drawback of this record for me personally, is that many of these songs just feel like ideas stacked on top of each other and played out. I can appreciate the instrumentation and layering, but I really feel that the structuring of these songs is rather sloppy at times. As much as I hate bands that stick to a formula of verse/chorus/verse/chorus, all of these songs are relatively short, yet adhere to nearly no formula, and are just one section after another. This, as well as a couple of angsty bursts of post-hardcore, reminds me a bit of the average Protest The Hero record - they're fun, ambitious, and energetic as fuck, but they all feel like a barrage of riffs interspersed with some softer sections. Admittedly, there are some fantastically energetic moments here that I can't help but headbang to, but many songs feel a bit directionless.

As an academic, Life In Lucidity sure is a great record and the Kindred sure have done their homework, but listening to this album only really gives me relative enjoyment, and most of it is from playing spot-the-instrument-in-the-background. It's ambitious and eclectic, and pretty energetic, but the pacing of the album, as well as the vocalist and some moments of shoddy production really bring it down in my books, but it's certainly worth your time.


Originally written for my Facebook page/blog:

Gallifrey | 4/5 |


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