Cynic – Kindly Bent To Free Us
Release Date: February 14, 2014
Metal is known for being an aggressive form of music. A lot of screaming, a lot of loud noise, a lot of animalistic and raw emotion. But there is another side to metal which outsiders may not know; the lighter side of metal comprising of some of the coolest and most interesting avatars of metal. Mixing complexity with intellectual brilliance and the unapologetic will to experiment. This is the side of metal which intrigues me the most. Although sometimes the albums come out sounding weird, more often than not the result is a stroke of genius. Cynic are no exception to this pool of talented musicians. One of the pioneers of the progressive death metal genre, they have gone far beyond what they created and have transcended genres to produced amazing albums with Focus and Traced In Air. After a six-year long gap in which they no doubt meditated on top of a mountain or something, Paul Masvidal, Sean Reinert and Sean Malone are back with their new album, Kindly Bent To Free Us.
The whole album feels light, very light. I cannot call it metal; though its roots are planted in metal it explores many more genres like progressive rock and psychedelic rock. The album gives you a feeling like you’re floating down a river on your back. There are places where the pace increases and you get excited, but on the whole you feel very calm and refreshed after listening to the album. It feels like I’m doing yoga when I’m listening to it. I think they just invented Yoga Metal!
Although at first the songs seem disconnected, as the album progresses, the songs flow into each other almost like the second half of the album is a song unto itself. Don’t be mistaken, every song is enjoyable on its own, be it Masvidal’s robo-vocals, Malone’s excellent bass lines or Reinert’s drum fills, there is always something that will hold your attention. “The Lion’s Roar”, “Kindly Bent To Free Us” and “Gitanjali” are standout tracks.
On this album, Cynic have completely abandoned any aggressive vocals, instead they have gone in the opposite direction with Paul’s vocals sounding very spacey and multi-layered, not to mention the guitar and synths which only add to the many layers on each song of this onion-esque album. People who have listened to the previous albums from Cynic will notice the trend they have had of moving slowly away from their roots in death and thrash metal, and in this album also they have ascended away from their roots to this weird limbo region which cannot be grouped into a genre like their previous releases. Makes me wonder what we’ll get from their next album.
Technically a brilliant album, the production on is also top notch. Masvidal’s guitar tone is something I would sell a body part to have. Reinert’s drum work is amazing as usual. The way he navigates his kit so effortlessly and matches the guitars and bass on complexity is something to hear. Special props to Malone who has redefined what a bass guitarist is supposed to do in a band. Incredible bass leads that ring above the other instruments. On this album, it seems like Malone has taken over the lead duties for most of the songs.
I don’t know what they did for six years, but whatever they did payed off big time because this album is just too good to pass up. Pushing the definition of what metal is, Cynic have once again released a quality album which will be very important in the story of progressive metal and metal as a whole. Though it may not be a very accessible album, once it gets a hold of you it is hard to let go; such is the power of the drug that is Kindly Bent To Free Us.
by Owais Vitek Nabi and Bharat G