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Cynic - "Kindly Bent To Free Us" (CD)

Cynic - "Kindly Bent To Free Us" CD cover image

"Kindly Bent To Free Us" track listing:

1. True Hallucination Speak (6:03)
2. The Lion's Roar (4:35)
3. Kindly Bent to Free Us (6:27)
4. Infinite Shapes (4:57)
5. Moon Heart Sun Head (5:21)
6. Gitanjali (3:58)
7. Holy Fallout (6:35)
8. Endlessly Bountiful (3:56)

Reviewed by on February 10, 2014

"The band has a newfound focus, but it won’t necessarily be in the direction fans wanted, as there’s nary a harsh vocal to be found, and very few head banging moments. To be clear, 'Kindly Bent To Free Us' is a prog rock album, and not a metal one..."

Only a mere six years since the band’s previous full-length (as opposed to the 15 year hiatus between the first and second albums), the long awaited “Kindly Bent To Free Us” is finally here, giving the legendary Cynic another opportunity to weave unexpected sounds across the metalscape. Only scratch that last part, because you won’t find a single trace of death metal here.

The band has a new-found focus, but it won’t necessarily be in the direction fans wanted, as there’s nary a harsh vocal to be found, and very few head banging moments. To be clear, “Kindly Bent To Free Us” is a prog rock album, and not a metal one, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Fans of Anubis Gate or Three will be hooked, and the focus on the bass parts also creates a strong appeal for people who dig instrumental bands like Exivious or Evan Brewer. There are even a handful of times when the clean vocals coupled with the softer sound create an occult rock vibe like you might get from Ancient VVisdom.

The clean vocal delivery fits the music well and has a strong range, so it holds up well, but the lack of gutturals means the words are very clearly understandable – and that’s occasionally a problem. “Pop, pop, snap, crackle and pop” aren’t exactly mind blowing lyrics. If the metal world is going to hate on “I Am The Table,” I think we have to have the consistency to also be ashamed by lyrics like “Stars, flat six pointed stars, hexagon like baby blocks, I've sewn a cloth” on the album’s opening track.

The progressive textures create a celestial voyage of sound that end up being fairly laid back and even relaxing. The bass does go in some crazy technical directions, but the album as a whole is incredibly tranquil. Unexpectedly, there aren’t a bunch of experimental style changes, and the disc tends to stick to a similar vibe all the way through. For those who like prog rock that doesn’t get abrasive, “Kindly Bent To Free Us” will work, but anyone expecting a tech/death/prog hybrid – or even extreme metal at all - will be very disappointed.

Highs: Great relaxing prog rock and good clean vocals.

Lows: The lyrics are silly, there's no metal of any kind, and the album sticks to basically one sound for its full run time.

Bottom line: Cynic frees itself of metal and kindly asks if you'd like to enjoy some laid back prog rock.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)