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Cydemind - "Erosion" (CD)

Cydemind - "Erosion" CD cover image

"Erosion" track listing:

1. What Remains (4:58)
2. Tree of Tales (6:41)
3. Derecho (13:36)
4. Red Tides (5:25)
5. Stream Capture (6:29)
6. Erosion (27:19)

Reviewed by on May 9, 2017

"Although lacking in vocals, Cydemind has still presented what will easily be among the top prog metal albums of the year..."

I've heard a fair share of instrumental metal (yes, its a thing, and yes, its frequently awesome) over the years, but this is probably the first one where violin is the main instrument. Before anyone gets visions in their head of some sort of grandiose symphonic band that you'd expect to have a female vocalist, you can take that notion of “violin metal” and ditch it, because this is energetic, melodic prog metal to the maximum with a fair share of power metal influence in there.

Cydemind's “Erosion” was incredibly refreshing listen for me personally coming immediately off 14 string guitarist Felix Martin's latest instrumental album. I'm not knocking Martin – the dude's a beast of stunning musicianship on a double-headed guitar – but that album was a dense, exhausting listen more about technicality than compelling music. Shifting from that album to this one was like night and day, showing a totally different side of the instrumental spectrum that's more about melody as well as storytelling.

Wait, storytelling? Yep, even without vocals, the way this music is constructed paints very strong pictures in the mind. There's a clear and obvious feel to each song, and you can almost “see” a story taking shape just by the music alone. The violin essentially takes the place of the vocals, working as a totally separate element from the rest of the instruments. Bonus points are awarded because the album doesn't get lost in technical wankery at any point.

To get a good idea of what's on tap here, take a look at 13 minute track “Derecho.” By length alone you already know this is prog metal, but the track is a wild ride much different than you'd expect, opening with ballad-style strumming and falling rain for a dreary feel. A truly excellent tempo change comes out of nowhere a quarter of the way through, shifting from melancholy sadness to clearly building tension, like the rising action segment of a movie.

About halfway through, the track hits the truly metallic part, with the sound giving off an impression of someone who has been wronged finally getting out of depression and starting to wage all-out war against who or whatever was doing the oppressing. A few minutes later, the song throws in a psychedelic twist for the progressive fans, and peppered throughout are segments that wouldn't be out of place as part of an RPG battle soundtrack. Needless to say there's a lot going on here musically, from the electronic opening to “Red Tide” bringing out a Machinae Supremacy or Auvernia feel to thrashy guitar solos interspersed across the tracks.

Even though Cydemind is a Canadian group, there are lots of little flourishes in the song writing that make me think of traditional Spanish and Italian music, showcasing a grasp of world musical concepts and not just metallic standards. For those who like lengthy excursions, the album ends on an epic 27 minute track, and not too many bands can get away with that. Although lacking in vocals, Cydemind has still presented what will easily be among the top prog metal albums of the year, tiding us over until the new Subterranean Masquerade finally arrives (if you loved “The Great Bazaar,” there's plenty here you'll unquestionably dig).

Highs: Get ready to redefine what instrumental metal means!

Lows: Occasionally the lack of vocals is missed and not everyone is going to dig 27 minute songs, but overall there's not much wrong with this excellent release

Bottom line: Violin-based instrumental group shows up to out perform all the prog metal bands who actually use vocalists!

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

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)