Review by Raymond Westland
Expect the unexpected is an expression that certainly rings true for progressive rock/metal outfit Cynic. Once a death metal outfit, these guys were never afraid to incorporate new influences and expand their musical horizons. After a hiatus of several years, Paul Masvidal and Co. bounced back with Traced In Air in 2008, a masterpiece in every regard. And so, six years later with two EPs in the interim, they return with their latest offering Kindly Bent To Free Us.
The new Cynic album isn’t such a drastic departure from its predecessor. The band has completed their transformation from a death metal band to a progressive rock/metal outfit and they (finally) found the niche they’re comfortable with. If anything, Kindly Bent To Free Us feels like a consolidation of a certain style/position and not so much as a band that is hellbound on venturing into fresh creative pastures.
Despite this, the new album still has plenty to offer in terms of sheer musicality and diversity. Masvidal and Co. know few equals when it comes to their ability to combine jazz/fusion and esoteric influences within their musical framework and incorporate this in memorable compositions. Tracks like ‘True Hallucination Speak’, ‘Infinite Shapes’ and ‘Gitanjali’ are brilliant examples of this.
Paul Masvidal’s eloquent guitarwork and the tasteful and intuitive drumming by Sean Reinert are the proverbial icing on the cake. The album is incredibly layered, so it will take several listening sessions before Kindly Bent To Free Us truly unveils its true essence. Production-wise, I do have a pickle with the incredible compressed sound of the album. A more spacious and lush sound would have done it more justice.
Kindly Bent To Free Us may not be the masterpiece that many hoped it would be, but Cynic still gives most peers a run for their money when it comes to songwriting, creating a fitting atmospheric backdrop and sheer originality. In short, this album is certainly worth one’s care and devotion; just don’t expect a Traced In Air part II.
7.5 out of 10
- True Hallucination Speak
- The Lion’s Roar
- Kindly Bent To Free Us
- Infinite Shapes
- Moon Heart Sun Head
- Holy Fallout
- Endlessly Bountiful