Release Date: Feb 18, 2014
Record label: Season of Mist
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal, Progressive Metal, Neo-Prog, Prog-Rock
When one thinks about progressive rock, it's easy to imagine it as an almost academic pursuit with groups of men, armed with degrees in composition and Chapman sticks, trying to convert the secret math that rules the universe into musical notation. Playing against this seeming lack of approachability, Cynic deliver Kindly Bent to Free Us, an album that, while most definitely in the realm of prog rock, has the kind of open, unpretentious air that makes Rush such an easy-to-love band. Though Cynic continue to stray further from their heavy metal beginnings, they still haven't abandoned them, fusing layers of melody and jazzy chord progressions with searing, distorted guitar work, perfectly combining both sounds without letting one distract from the other.
Cynic has been in a constant state of flux since the release of their 2008 album Traced in Air. They've stayed progressive, but have grown more melodic and spacey with each subsequent EP. What we get from Kindly Bent to Free Us is a sort of culmination of the experimentations of the last three releases.The dynamics are top notch, shifting masterfully from a melodic tone to a heavy, empowered voice.
Cynic's amazing 1993 debut, Focus, blasted menacing death metal through an odd prog-jazz universe, but it also showed a flair for the melodic. On their latest album, Cynic still revel in virtuosic performances, like the weird staccato patterns and fusion interplay on the title track, which sometimes recall King Crimson. But the focus usually isn't on blinding hyperchops.
Review Summary: Kellogg’s called, and they want their damned motto back.Albums like Kindly Bent To Free Us make me think about what musicians want from their careers. Until recently, it never was too hard to tell what made Cynic tick- the progressive metal troupe always aimed to be impactful. Between the genre-hopping of Focus and the closely-knit Traced In Air, both albums were huge in their own way.
Did Cynic really have to make a third album? In 2006, the Florida progressive metal paragons returned to the stage after a decade away from both recording and performing (plus a short stint under another name). The first phase of Cynic’s existence had been short but crucial; in only five years, they evolved from an atavistic thrash band to a frame-breaking alloy of technical death metal and thundering jazz fusion, crystallized on their wonderfully vexing 1993 debut, Focus. Two decades later, Focus still sounds like future music, an impossibly complex rush of disparate parts and unseen twists that maintains its momentum in spite of its bewildering mechanics.
Review Summary: One big blur from beginning to end.Experimentation is one of the riskiest gambles in music, particularly in metal music. On one hand, there's the task of catering to the already established fanbase, but then there's either the hunger to expand that fanbase or to explore completely uncharted territory, usually with varying degrees of success. Most of the time, successful experiments have still managed to receive some sort of backlash from the community, going to show that you can't please everyone.