Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Cynic - Kindly Bent to Free Us

Cynic, who once upon a time brought us the legendary progressive death/thrash record Focus, have wandered a bit in the couple decades since that record's release. Today they're more of a prog rock band, as seen on their February release, Kindly Bent to Free Us.

As I said, this barely, if at all, qualifies as a metal album. It sounds much more like the work of a '70s progressive rock outfit. Actually, its lilting drugged-out-sounding vocals and light drum work remind me a lot of late Beatles albums. The metal cred is almost entirely found within the guitar work, which while still often light and clean, does deliver some riffs with just enough bite to keep the band from sounding like they've totally gone soft. The bass work, jazzy and progressive, is quite strong and may be a bit of an unsung hero on this album.

I actually really enjoy the style and bands that Cynic seems to be trying to emulate, but the trouble with impersonating 40-year-old albums is that you end up sounding like those bands you're aping, but without any of the originality or the standout tracks. Basically, this comes across like a bunch of unreleased or unremembered filler songs from a classic '70s band. The modern production spoils that unspectacular illusion somewhat, as do the occasional soft modern sections, but the overall impression remains intact.

This album isn't bad, per se. It's actually quite pleasant to listen to for the most part. But it brings nothing new to the table, and lacks both the teeth to grab hold of the listener and the beauty to entrance the listener. In the end, it winds up being very listenable but also very forgettable. I think the ultimate testament to this record's nature is the fact that the first time I played it all the way through, I was about half an hour in when suddenly I looked up with a start and realized it was still playing. I wasn't watching TV or having a conversation, it just faded into the background all on its own. That's right: I forgot I was listening to it in the middle of actually listening to it.

Grade: C

1 comment:

  1. That's too bad. I was wondering whether this one would be worth shelling out the money.