"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Cyrax - "Pictures" (CD)

Cyrax - "Pictures" CD cover image

"Pictures" track listing:

1. Cyrax (5:05)
2. The 7th Seal (5:59)
3. Cockroach (3:43)
4. These Greenvalleys (4:11)
5. Oedipus Rex (4:06)
6. Shine Through Darkness pt. I (7:22)
7. Shine Through Darkness pt. II (3:36)
8. Shine Through Darkness pt. III (3:39)
9. Phunkrax (2:55)

Reviewed by on March 18, 2015

"Bakerteam Records has got a wild musical ride on its hands here, releasing this Italian band's sophomore album “Pictures,” and its a pretty good bet you're never going to hear something like this on a modern day Metal Blade or Century Media release."

Cyrax is a prime example of why the underground is such an interesting place to be, and in this case, we're talking about the underground sector of the already-underground metal world. Bakerteam Records has got a wild musical ride on its hands here, releasing this Italian band's sophomore album “Pictures,” and its a pretty good bet you're never going to hear something like this on a modern day Metal Blade or Century Media release.

Let's cut straight to the chase: the album is composed of weird, wacky, and wonderful stuff. Start to finish, “Pictures” is bizarre, but entertaining, and there's not an ounce of boredom to be found. The band probably sums it up best with a line off the opening, self-titled track “Cryax,” in which vocalist Marco Cantoni proclaims “We don't care what people say!”

It's not entirely clear what main sub-genre this lands in. There's a lot of power and symphonic metal, but its also generally more heavy and extreme than those quadrants of the metalverse, and the album goes on some truly odd tangents. “Cockroach” has robotic and electronic sounds that give way to an organic piano piece, while “7th Seal” evokes all the feelings the name would suggest – its epic, ominous, and apocalyptic. For good measure, the track also features synthesizer work that sounds like it belongs on a Flight Of The Conchords record.

For the most part it all fits really well, although with any avant-garde and experimental offering, your individual mileage will vary. The male operatic vocals on “These Greenvalleys,” for instance, is too over the top for this reviewer to take seriously. There are times where you'll hear a clear NWOBHM sound, and others that will bring to mind video game soundtracks. “Shine Through Darkness Part 1” has more tech-influenced segments and a fair share of fancy keyboard work, while the accurately titled “Phunkrax” is funky and bass-heavy. The weirdest part? It all flows together pretty damn well, because this is an entertaining album from beginning to end.

Highs: A little bit of everything goes on here, and it all works together.

Lows: Some of the operatic vocals are too over the top to be taken seriously.

Bottom line: Cyrax has some truly weird and wacky (but intensely entertaining) operatic metal on its hands here.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 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)