Nine Inch Nails – Not The Actual Events

One thing about Trent Reznor, he never seems to get complacent. Part of that is the artist inside of him won’t allow atrophy of his creative muscles very long. The strength of his need to keep growing forward and evolving, Reznor continues an over decade long hot-streak of new and varied output either as a solo artist, entrepreneur, film composer, visual artist, fashion designer, his other band projects such as How To Destroy Angels and of course with Nine Inch Nails.

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Metallica – Hardwired…To Self-Destruct

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Ladies and gentlemen, the eight year wait for a new Metallica album is almost over. Hardwired…To Self-Destruct will be hitting stores on November 18th via Blackened Recordings, and although it took 2989 days to get here, the heavy metal icons are about to release their best record in over twenty years. Continue reading

High on Fire – Luminiferous

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I don’t know about you, but, I turn into a kid on Christmas morning whenever a band I love announces a new album so I’m sure you can imagine the sheer joy that consumed my being when I finally got my greedy little paws on this gem. Friends, she is a beauty. If I could get away with just transcribing my excited squeals and witch-like cackling as I listened to this album, I would.

In all seriousness, stoner metal masters High on Fire return this summer with the highly anticipated Luminiferous (eOne) and it is worth every penny. Luminiferous is both strange and different and yet fits into the band’s prior body of work very well. ‘The Black Plot’ and “The Sunless Years’ are have been fantastic singles but can we just talk about the gift that is ‘Carcosa’ for a second? This track has been one of my favorites from the beginning. It’s heavy and filled with hypnotic riffs and a beautiful guitar solo that just completely draw you in.

‘Slave the Hive’ is an absolute shredder with its quick tempo and Jeff Matz’s throbbing bass lines. You can just tell that this is going to be one of those songs where you can feel the bass weaving its way through your bones and organs. Yes, please. This track takes the concepts of the hive mind and sheeple created by society and the mass media and puts them to music. The end of the song is almost a bit unnerving as it is punctuated by the faintest laugh just before it ends.

Des Kensel’s pounding drums open ‘The Dark Side of the Compass’ and what seems to be a tribute to the Bermuda Triangle. There are so many bands out there that only write songs about their love lives or childhood that I find it refreshing when someone does something different. Tell me about aliens and weird stuff and the mysteries of the universe. With its lyrics referencing lost ships, portals, and the supernatural as a whole, I know what to listen to the next I find myself flying over the Devil’s Triangle again next year. If I’m going to die, it’s going to be with Matt Pike crooning in my ear.

‘The Cave’ is easily another favorite of mine, even if it is soft and slow compared to the rest of the album but that’s precisely why I find myself drawn to it like a moth to a flame. I’m not usually a fan of ballad-esque songs as they tend to be far too cheesy for my liking but ‘The Cave’ is genuine rather than feeling forced. There is so much emotion contained in this song that it is almost palpable and I really enjoyed seeing this other side of the band. You can keep your ‘Nothing Else Matters’ and its millions of clones, I’ll take ‘The Cave’ any day.

L to R: Des Kensel, Matt Pike, Jeff Matz. Photo Credit: J. Hubbard

L to R: Des Kensel, Matt Pike, Jeff Matz. Photo Credit: J. Hubbard

Luminiferous is, at times, both lighter and heavier than previous albums and the risks that the band took when putting it together have paid off. I’ll leave my personal interpretations out of this but the English major in me just wants to sit around and discuss lyrics, connections, and themes for a few hours. The boys have put out one monster of a record and, if you couldn’t tell by now, I am extremely pleased. Don’t drink the Kool-Aid, get yourself a gallon of Pike Juice instead and keep an eye out for an upcoming tour date near you.

8.5/10

ALEIDA LA LLAVE

Napalm Death – Apex Predator – Easy Meat

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Remember the first time you heard From Enslavement to Obliteration (Earache), the ground-breaking second album from UK grind pioneers Napalm Death? I certainly do. It was 1988, I’m there trying to grasp on to my love of loud music…and I fucking hated it. I found it laughable, and it sent me away from Metal’s harder edges for a long time. How can you identify with a five-second song, for Christ’s sake? Up to this moment, I’d never listened to another Napalm Death album.

A staggering 27 years later fifteenth album Apex Predator – Easy Meat (Century Media) hits my inbox and boy, I feel different. The angry yet tribal rhythm of the shamanic title track gives way to the pounding machine-gun rattle of ‘Smash A Single Digit’, while the powerful skewing punk of ‘Metaphorically Screw You’ ploughs an irresistible furrow. There’s display of a flexibility in pace with the initially slower ‘Dear Slum Landlord’ retaining a hefty boot with a full production and eventually exploding with euphoric ferocity. The band’s trademark veering grind is still in evidence in the speed and violent switches of ‘Cesspits’ and ‘Bloodless Coup’; while the exercise in raw bloody velocity that is ‘Stunt Your Growth’, complete with mid-point of brutal groove and a barked Barney Greenway delivery, will rip up some serious pits live.

That the band still emits a burning intensity, railing against injustice and The Establishment, is reassuring and adds the crucial element of gravity to what is, in essence, a joyous and energising sound. The beefy punk of ‘Hierarchies’ possesses choruses of near harmonised, reflective vocals and a lightning lead break to highlight the versatility. Thankfully this is followed by the frenetic  bludgeon of blastbeats and the savage roars of the penultimate ‘One Eyed’, reverting back to the coruscating norm with a wonderful closing bounce that is the album’s highlight.

Me, the Napophobe? I bloody love the nose-breaking, careering chaos of it all, which would appal an old, lost friend and make a few more chuckle. I’m ashamed I’ve missed out on so much but thank God for mid-life crises, eh?….

 

8.5/10

Napalm Death on Facebook

 

PAUL QUINN

Exodus Premieres New Song Featuring Kirk Hammett, New Album Due Next Month

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Exodus has released the first taste of their new album, Blood In Blood Out (Nuclear Blast) due to drop on October 14th. The band is riding high on this long-anticipated new album which features the return of second Exodus front man Steve “Zetro” Souza (Hatriot/Tenet) on his first album with the band since 2004’s Tempo of The Damned. The song certainly has the bands’ trademark sound and Zetro’s unmistakable snarl. Check out the song here:

 

 

From The Press Release:

The 4-year wait is over.

RollingStone.com has exclusively debuted “Salt The Wound,” the first new song in four years by Bay Area thrash metal architects Exodus featuring a guest guitar solo by original Exodus& current METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett and lead vocal work by returning band frontman Steve “Zetro” Souza. Stream the track & watch the lyric video here:

Having Kirk play on the new Exodus record kind of came about after I played so many shows with Metallica while touring with Slayer over the past four years,” shares guitarist & songwriter Gary Holt. “It started the same way most of these things do, as a lot of chatter while having a good time, but Kirk was more stoked to play on the new record than anyone. He never got to play on anything with Exodus since the first demo despite being a founding member, so I think it really meant a lot to him. Coming full circle so to speak. So I chose the song ‘Salt The Wound’ since I thought the rhythm section for the first lead was right in his wheelhouse, and he killed it! He came in and busted out several takes and his solo compliments mine perfectly. Then we drank beer and ate barbecue! Epic time!”

About his recent experience recording with his first heavy metal band, Hammett revealed to RollingStone.com this past July: “It felt really casual, really cool – just like it did back in 1980 when we were all just hanging out back in the day.”

Hammett is one of three special guests whose work graces Blood In, Blood Out, Exodus’ tenth studio album due out on October 14th in North America. Electronic music producer Dan the Automator (Gorillaz, Mike Patton, Deltron 3030) crafts an industrial sound bed on the intro to the album opener ‘Black 13’ and Testament frontman Chuck Billy lends his signature roar to ‘BTK.’

In other news, Gary Holt will appear as a guest judge on this week’s episode of Top Chef Duels on the Bravo network, judging a full vegan meal alongside fellow heavy metal veterans Rob Zombie and Scott Ian. The episode airs tomorrow, September 10th at 7 p.m. Pacific / 9 P.M. Central / 10 P.M. Eastern.

Produced by Andy Sneap (Accept, Kreator, Megadeth), Blood In, Blood Out can be pre-ordered from the Nuclear Blast USA Webshop in CD, digi-pak + bonus DVD, 2-LP exclusive yellow vinyl, and imported limited edition box set formats. Bundles include a t-shirt with exclusive artwork by Swedish artist Par Olofsson (Psycroptic, Abysmal Dawn, Revocation) + a poster (while supplies last).

 

Fans who pre-order Blood In, Blood Out on iTunes will receive an instant “Salt The Wound” download. Get yours here: http://geni.us/exobiboitunes

Track listing for the deluxe digi-pak + bonus DVD version of Blood In Blood Out is:

01 – Black 13 (featuring Dan the Automator)

02 – Blood In, Blood Out

03 – Collateral Damage

04 – Salt The Wound (featuring Kirk Hammett)

05 – Body Harvest

06 – BTK (featuring Chuck Billy)

07 – Wrapped In The Arms Of Rage

08 – My Last Nerve

09 – Numb

10 – Honor Killings

11 – Food For The Worms

BONUS DVD includes:

· “Blood Upon The Goat” making-of footage

· Behind-the-scenes tour footage

· Footage from Kirk Hammett’s Fear FestEVIL After Party at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con

The digital version of Blood In Blood Out will include the digital bonus track “Angel Of Death” (ANGEL WITCH cover).

The album’s Japanese edition includes the “Protect Not Dissect” bonus track featuring Rat from THE VARUKERS/DISCHARGE.

Exodus will head out with fellow metal titans Slayer and Suicidal Tendencies on a U.S. tour this November sponsored by Scion. This “destined to be legendary” tour launches on November 11th with two shows at The Fox Theater in Oakland, California. The 26-show trek includes nine headlining off-dates with additional performances to be announced soon.

Tickets are on sale now via the links on the official ExodusFacebook page.

Due to the overwhelmingly demand, Exodus VIP Experience packages are now available for the entire tour via SLOtix.com. Visit the site for tour package details.

All Exodus VIP Experience attendees will be included in a giveaway for either an autographed Gary Holt signature guitar or an Exodus guitar. At the end of the tour, Gary Holt will personally call the winner himself to announce that they’ve won!

Exodusin North America with Slayer & Suicidal Tendencies

11/11 – The Fox Theater – Oakland, CA (2nd show added!)

11/12 – The Fox Theater – Oakland, CA

11/14 – The Forum – Inglewood, CA

11/15 – Comerica Theatre – Phoenix, AZ

11/17 – Coca Cola Bricktown Events Venter – Oklahoma City, OK

11/18 – ACL Live at the Moody Theater – Austin, TX

11/19 – Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie – Grand Prairie (Dallas), TX

11/21 – Hard Rock Café/Hard Rock Live – Orlando, FL

11/22 – The Tabernacle – Atlanta, GA

11/23 – The Fillmore – Charlotte, NC (Exodus ONLY)

11/24 – Empire – North Springfield, VA (Exodus ONLY)

11/25 – Washington Avenue Armory – Albany, NY

11/26 – Sands Bethlehem Event Center – Bethlehem, PA

11/28 – The Palladium – Worcester, MA

11/29 – Wellmont Theatre – Montclair, NJ

11/30 – Tower Theater – Upper Darby (Philadelphia), PA

12/02 – Agora Theatre – Cleveland, OH

12/03 – Madison Theatre – Covington, KY (ExodusONLY)

12/04 – Egyptian Room at Old National Centre – Indianapolis, IN

12/05 – The Fillmore Detroit – Detroit, MI

12/07 – Aftershock – Merriam, KS (Exodus ONLY)

12/08 – Gothic Theatre – Denver, CO (Exodus ONLY)

12/09 – Pub Station – Billings, MT (Exodus ONLY)

12/10 – The Hop – Spokane, WA (Exodus ONLY)

12/11 – Studio Seven – Seattle, WA (Exodus ONLY)

12/12 – Hawthorne Theater – Portland, OR (Exodus ONLY)

Additional shows will be announced soon.

Exoduson Facebook

Tickets are on sale now via the links on the official Exodus Facebook page.

Goatwhore – Constricting Rage of the Merciless

Goatwhore album cover 2014

 

Goatwhore conjures a musical sound to mind the minute read their name or say it aloud. You know what it stands for, before the words roll off of your tongue. Few modern bands have the grit and the greatness to remain consistently heavy in the face of rising popularity. They are in many ways the Motörhead of their musical generation: without compromise and weakness…. a band that can do no wrong for fans across all of metals fiefdoms and cliques. Certainly there are no Goatwhore haters, only people unaware of them, yet. Maintaining the balance of their message and the quality of their songcraft is the likely secret to their success, beyond some sacred pact with dark forces. Every album is different from the last, yet they never went soft or sold out like some others have. On Constricting Rage of the Merciless (Metal Blade), their sixth album in their 16-year career, Goatwhore rolls up their spiked-sleeves and smashes you in the mouth once again. And you will love it!

 

Where 2012’s Blood for the Master was a little more nuanced and throwback focused, Constricting Rage of the Merciless kicks you with jackbooted foot and maintains the savagery all the way through. The new album has more than a pointed step towards their blackened death metal history, but also carries with it the continued evolution of the sound of recent releases. Opening track ‘Poisonous Existence in Reawakening’ will crush your ear holes with extreme prejudice. Unrelenting blastbeats, deathly sick riffs and the masterful vocals of Rev. L. Ben Falgoust III will make you smile, unless you are dead. In typical fashion for this act, most of the tracks are tight, average under four-minutes each, and have zero B.S. about them. The majestically brutal ‘Unraveling Paradise’ has no less than four different riffs in the song, all of them amazing. Sammy Duet doesn’t rely as much on thrashy pedaling this time around, coming up with some inventive licks and whirling motifs, all that would shame some of the best tech death bands by the way.

 

As was the case on the last album, drummer Zack Simmons demolishes expectations and his kit on every song, inspiring much headbanging and fist-banging. If you have seen the band live, you know Zack is a machine who plays equally well on wax. Tracks such as ‘Baring Teeth for Revolt’ and ‘Reanimated Sacrifice’ are a drum fanatics wet dream. ‘Reanimated…’ as on several tracks herein, sees Rev. Ben switch up his style and make use of different parts of his register vocally. Impressive stuff. Also chipping in with a great chopping riff and a slick, short solo is Duet once again, who continues to enthrall listeners year after year.

 

The bleak and harsh ‘Heaven’s Crumbling Walls of Pity’ flexes the bands black metal muscles again, with a little extra something grim on top. It’s almost like a proggy black metal song you might expect from Ihsahn’s solo work. The ending stanzas are full of cool chords and grooving beats. ‘Cold Earth In Dying Flesh’ is another in a litany of standout, mid-album cuts. It has an eerie intro to set the mood. Not unlike a horror movie soundtrack theme, this slow to simmer beast machine of a song is a great change of pace. Falgoust again just bellows with some of the best vocals he’s ever done. It’s also the longest track on the album; not an epic in length, but with high quality grooves more associated with their other swampy NOLA brethren. When it finally launches into breakneck death thrash territory mid-song, it takes the track to another level without losing the story.

 

‘FBS’ was first played live on the Behemoth tour this spring and is a typical, circle-pit inducing song if there is one on this album. Full of rawness, with two more sweet solos from Sammy. It’s almost punk without being punk, or punk without too much crust. ‘Nocturnal Conjuration of the Accursed’ continues the trend of heady lyrics, and heavy on the evil sounds that is the bands trademark. There is even a little classic metal fun of galloping riffs and thematic soloing. ‘Schadenfreude’ is another gruesome masterpiece. Black metal, death metal and thrash all come together, but in a sensible way you could almost call it American Blackened Thrash. As a style, this would be a worthy counterpart to the Death `n Roll of Scandinavian bands, but much, much more brutal. ‘Schadenfreude’ is also a lyrical masterpiece, with the title defined as enjoying the suffering of others, in this case those whom most deserve it. The album closes with the fitting ‘Externalize this Hidden Savagery’ and sums up the entire album’s intent quite well before its final notes ring out.

 

Goatwhore has made an album nearly worthy of the best work of their career, even though it’s on the short side at under 40 minutes. I doubt you will find a more righteously hostile, fun, and well made album from another heavy band in 2014.

 

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9.0/10

Goatwhore on Facebook

 

KEITH (KEEFY) CHACHKES

 

 

Down – IV Part Two (EP)

Down IV part 2 album cover

 

Releasing the second in their series of four EP s, Down is back with a vengeance on Down IV Part Two (Down Records). However, with the departure of founding member Kirk Windstein last fall, the wheels could have very easily have come off another super-group. Lucky for us, the resiliency of this band, even one with the legacy members that is has, cannot be questioned. They have added their tour manager and long-time friend Bobby Landgraf (Honky) to take Kirk’s place, and these kings of the super-group rolled on to their next release. In fact, they discarded the material they wrote with Kirk, let him take his many riffs with him, and re-wrote the entire new EP more or less from scratch with Landgraf. That takes a lot of balls for any band, but especially when the bar is set as high as it is for this one. Not only is there zero drop-off from the first EP, this release exemplifies everything rewarding as a fan of this band, and heavy music as a whole.

 

The opener ‘Steeple’ starts with a crushing slab of doom with all the epic, slow Sabbath-ian thunder they have always championed. When the thrashy, up-tempo main riff kicks in, you cannot help but smile. As per usual, a Down release packs in the quality riffs. Within the first two minutes of the track at least five distinctly different parts can heard; each more awesome than the last. The best part is, they all work together, and make sense in the context of the song. Phil Anselmo, is once again in fine voice, relying mostly on his mid-high range, which always has a sense of urgency to it. The repeating line of ‘steeple will fall…’ in the ending coda just entrances you. Who knew this band could be so kvlt? The song is a crusher and begins what feels like a real throwback to the first two Down albums. Coming up next, the single ‘We Knew Him Well’, has the signature sound you expect: grinding riffs, classic beats, and a catchy refrain sung by Anselmo. There are no signs slipping of the guitar sound from Landgraf and Pepper Keenan who trade hot licks, and swap solos seamlessly.

 

As much as the songwriting on this the EP sounds welcome and familiar, that doesn’t mean the band is resting on their laurels. Not one bit. ‘Hogshead Dogshead’ shows a growth, melding the hard hitting chops and incorporating inventive time signatures, stop/start timing parts, and classic-rock/blues vamping. Drummer Jimmy Bower and bassist Pat Bruders are just locked in tight and nasty on the low end rhythms. There are also some sick solos for you guitar freaks to get sweaty over. ‘Hogshead Dogshead’ has a what I like to call the “happy summer-time vibe” to it; just a feelgood rock song that is not cheesy, along the lines of Queen, Thin Lizzy, and Deep Purple. What a rager! On the other hand, the molasses-drenched in hellfire riffitude of ‘Conjure’, begins a weeded-out dream groove. Halfway through, the track lifts off into some NWOBHM and thrash movements, with a few more surprises added in, before bringing it back around again. If ‘Bury Me In Smoke’ is Down’s very own ‘Sweet Leaf’, then this is their ‘Electric Funeral’. Like most of his recent work, we are also treated to some of the most memorable lyrics from Phil in his entire career. Emotionally crushing, and timeless too. This quite possibly the best song on the album and the best song of the collective Down IV series so far.

 

‘Sufferer’s Years’ is another slick cut full of Keenan’s signature chopping chord play. Once again, we hear a plethora of inventive changes in this song. Phil again kills with some neat double-tracked lines, accentuating his words with a wisp of delay effects trailing off at the end of phrases. Closing things out with another jammin track, the aptly titled ‘Bacchanalia’ just simmers with badassery until the last note. This song is so heavy, and so much fun that I can’t wait to hear it live. To top it off there is a stunning coda to the song that is not musically unlike classics ‘Jail’ and ‘Pray For The Locust’. One gets the feeling Down writes with all these little twists and turns as a gift to the listener and themselves too. When we look back on this part of their career, we will likely understand that these are less like regular EPs that other bands release, and much more like a mini-opus, in pieces. Down clearly realizes their collective vision, no matter who is in the lineup, every time.

 

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9.5/10

Down on Facebook

 

KEITH (KEEFY) CHACHKES

 

 

 

 

Devil You Know – Beauty of Destruction

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Formed by Francesco Artusato (All Shall Perish , Francesco Artusato Project) a beast of a guitarist, fleet-footed drummer John Sankey (Devolved, Divine Heresy) and vocalist Howard Jones (Killswitch Engage, Blood Has Been Shed), Devil You Know had all the promise of a powerhouse, and with its release Beauty of Destruction (Nuclear Blast) it delivers on all fronts. The songs are well-crafted, nicely developed and excellently executed. This actually sounds more like Divine Heresy than Killswitch Engage as it has a lot of gnat-ass tight Dino Cazares-inspired stutter riffs and relentless drumming.

 

‘A New Beginning’ kicks right in with pure a All Shall Perish ggression and a wall of guitars. ‘My Own’ makes a grand entrance with an almost Pantera-like drive, and goes into staccato rhythms with a tasty guitar lick on top and a catchy chorus. Here, Jones sounds most like the Howard we know (no pun intended) with some metalcore vocal stylings in places. ‘Embracing the Torture’ features some very nice drum work by Sankey and shows off Jones’ range as he goes from growls to melodic chorus hook. ‘For the Dead and Broken’ dials it back a bit, and may be the most commercial sounding song on the release. Bringing in melodic vocals with effects, tamer guitars, and a sing-along chorus, it is reminiscent of In This Moment or Fall Out Boy (if they went Metal). ‘Seven Years Alone’ is very well-arranged song. The multi-layered vocals shine, but Artusato gets to flex his guitar chops quite a bit as well. This is also more on the commercial side of metal but it still hits hard. ‘It’s Over’ is more of a straight-ahead tune that has a Sevendust-like bent; pounding yet soulful. ‘A Mind Insane’ lives up to its title, a mix of tempos and mood with all members showing their strengths and then ending quietly, as if the subject broke free…or got his medication. ‘Crawl from the Dark’ has a sweet, almost dreamy groove in the verses while easily siding into a heavy bridge and chorus, and ending with a blistering solo by Artusato. ‘The Killer’ is a stuttering, creeping thing, with an almost subversive layer of acoustic guitars and a sneaky guitar riff slithering through the chorus. ‘I Am The Nothing’ is a song that features little hooks throughout with just enough keyboards/programming to add interest and color, and Jones really keeping the mood of the vocals in line with the subject matter. ‘Shut It Down’ is a show-closer, with a vocal line that begs to be shouted along with and an outro that will get folks mixing it up in the pit. Closer ‘As Bright as the Darkness’ is dark and cool with flanged-out guitars and vocals layered with echo. It reminded me a bit of ‘Aerials’ by System of a Down in flow and mood, and Jones channels a little bit of Pete Steele as well vocally which is cool as hell.

 

The production by Logan Mader (Gojira, Divine Heresy, Soulfly) and the mix job by Chris “Zeuss” Harris provides a crisp, big, in-your-face sonic experience. Jones is in excellent vocal form, and while you can recognize the voice, there is definitely a growth and depth that is great to hear. He has clearly found a new “home” in Devil You Know, and in this reviewer’s humble opinion, this release is superior to KsE’s last as good as that was. Good for him…and us.

 

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 9.5/10

Devil You Know on Facebook

Lynn Jordan

Cynic- Kindly Bent To Free Us

Cynic_KBtFU_2014 album cover

At this point in Cynic’s illustrious career, it is unlikely they are going to do anything but follow their own muse. If you are living in the past, and only care about a seminal release like Focus, then you miss the point the band made with that bold musical statement, all those years ago. Granted, every band in this business is measured against their “best” and most popular work. Old-school fans always talk of the pedigree of the principles as members of Death, as if their development as writers should stay frozen in Carbonite forever. However, if you have followed them, you are aware of the hiatus the members took away from the band, and the phenomenal comeback that was Traced In Air. Cynic is a band free of conventions and certainly lives to satisfy their own passions, nothing more. Along the way they have influenced everyone from Opeth, to Between the Buried and Me, and even Animals As Leaders. If you care about the path of an artist, and the transformational power that art has, then this band is still one you ought to study.

 

Kindly Bent To Free Us (Season of Mist), is a unique experience unto its own. The chemistry between Paul Masvidal, Sean Reinert and Sean Malone is an undeniable combustion of deft progressive rock and metal sensibilities, with clever songcraft. Kindly Bent… is catchy, uplifting and musically intricate in ways Cynic has never been all at once before, but always were capable of. It is a mature album, written from real life experiences to pull from, and less of the angsty, strained attempts at prog mastery some of the modern bands get bogged down in.

 

The opening sound of ‘True Hallucination Speak’ is a harsh, jarring screech; an alarm which is a portend of things to come. A real awakening is coming, ready or not. The ominous clean picked guitar tones that bring the track to life in a wash of tension soon reveal its gift with a swelling, modulated vocal sample. When the bass and drums come in with a climax, the track lifts off, and it totally sounds like a Cynic record ought to sound. From Reinert’s syncopated beats, to Malone’s bristling bass, the track, they compliment the cool riffs. Masvidal’s singing, which has really become a powerful instrument in its own right. The chorus soars musically without being over the top, and the triple-tracked guitar solo is a triumph. Like a speech from Dr. Timothy Leary or Carl Sagan, some tripped out knowledge is coming your way, and it’s up to you to willfully dodge it, or sit still patiently and absorb it. A great way to kick things off.

 

The most surprising track on the album is ‘The Lion’s Roar’, with its ebb and flow dynamics and poppy chorus. It might be a turn-off to people looking for something more brutal with their morning coffee, but it is going to be hard to ignore those toe-tapping grooves and sweet melodies for long. Next follows the title track, which is a prog-rock masterpiece of the highest order. With heady sonics and heavy emotions, the track is a gem. The urgent interplay of the band just pulls and pushes the song in all kinds of directions, until the mellow refrain returns again and again like mantra. ‘Infinite Shapes’ is another chameleon-like track that undergoes a lot of changes. Fans of Masvidal’s axe-work should take note of his solos, especially his synth-guitar solos on this album. They are a throwback to the likes of Alan Holdsworth, Adrian Belew, and Andy Summers and other legends from progressive music history.

 

‘Moon Heart Sun Head’ and ‘Gitanjeli’ are a little more on the other side of the introspective spectrum, but both have some deep moments in them. ‘Moon Heart Sun Head’ could be mistaken for a lost Tool song over several verses, and certainly those guys are influenced by Cynic too. Masvidal’s glorious vocals sitting in the pocket are allowed to actually carry the song for a spell, quite the feat against this backdrop.

 

‘Holy Fallout’ is the finest track on this offering. Starting out with that familiar vocoder-treated sound and some chiming guitars, the track grows and grows more fierce, yet stays restrained in the moment of each second. The song just comes at you in waves of mini-movements, building out slowly over almost seven minutes. A stellar guitar solo, easily one of Paul’s best ever, caps things off before shape-shifting again. Also, if Cynic ever wanted to write its ‘Pink Floyd’ tribute part, they did so with the elongated outro. ‘Endlessly Bountiful’ closes out the album proper with a lullaby of jazzy, calming notes. Kindly Bent To Free Us is a journey of the self, and towards self-awareness. This is a message more people need in their lives, looking forward, as they reflect inward.

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8.5/10

Cynic on Facebook

Keith (Keefy) Chachkes