Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cynic - Kindly Bent to Free Us (2014)
Cynic may be best known for their unique blend of death metal and jazz fusion as seen on their critically acclaimed albums "Focus" and "Traced in Air" but as we saw on their EP "Carbon Based Anatomy" the band have shifting their sound in new directions. This shift is even more evident on their third album "Kindly Bent to Free Us" where prog rock has taken the place of metal although there are some vaguely metallic-sounding bits. While many bands still sound great even after shifting genres and, indeed, some bands even need to do this to retain their artistic integrity, in Cynic's case I can't say the results have met my, or many other fan's, expectations as far as quality goes. Whereas the Cynic on "Traced in Air" sounds self-assured and inspired, the Cynic on this album has been reduced to a shadow of itself. Many songs simply meander aimlessly and fail to impress beyond a few interesting bits and pieces. Some of the lyrics even border on self-parody. The exceptions to this are "Infinite Shapes" and "The Lion's Roar" both of which are solid, memorable tunes. However, even those standouts pale in comparison to such legendary Cynic songs as "Integral Birth" and "Veil of Maya." That said, this is by no means a bad album. In fact, for a prog rock record "Kindly Bent to Free Us" is admirable and I think most Cynic fans should find something on here that they truly enjoy. Sean Reinert's drumming is excellent as always and Sean Malone's bass instrumentation is undoubtedly the musical highlight of the record. It's just that by Cynic standards this is a letdown. I'm not necessarily saying they should go back to their previous sound. I just hope they rediscover the same inspiration they had when making their last two full-lengths and go on to make something great again whether it's metal or not.