Review: Cynic – Kindly Bent To Free Us

Location: Los Angeles, California
Genre: Prog Metal
Released: February 14, 2014
Format Reviewed: FLAC
Feature: National Uprising – Recent Releases

By: Kris Kotlarik

Progressive metal ranks among my favorite subgenres, but Cynic hasn’t really grabbed my undivided attention up to this point. I liked their prior album, Traced In Air, but haven’t given it many listens lately. Lo and behold, Kindly Bent To Free Us, Cynic’s first release in six years, was waiting to be opened and reviewed.

After giving Kindly Bent a couple of spins, I envision a melting pot of 70’s prog, a tinge of Rush and some Mars Volta sprinkled on top. And that’s perfectly fine in my book. The bass stands out as if Geddy Lee himself had done the mix, and I could’ve sworn on several occasions that I was listening to a modernized version of Yes.

The only song that doesn’t bring much to the table is “Moon Heart Sun Head,” which I find to be repetitive and way too long, although the sample from author Alan Watts in the middle was a nice touch. “Infinite Shapes” is somewhat better and still has its moments, especially in the closing sections. “Earth is my Witness,” a bonus track, has a nice melody but doesn’t contribute much more than that.

Anything else I could say about Kindly Bent is all positive. Opener “True Hallucination Speak” has an extremely well-crafted chorus that will get stuck in your ear. The ending for “The Lion’s Roar” is fantastic. The instrumental break in the title track, the layered sampling in “Gitanjali,” the multiple vocal patterns in “Holy Fallout,” and the buildup and acoustic ending of closer “Endlessly Bountiful” account for just a few of the many bright moments in Cynic’s latest offering.

Frontman Paul Masvidal broke down each song’s lyrical and musical aspects. The lyrics mostly boil down to spirituality and philosohpy and are worth a listen on this basis alone for those who have an interest in Eastern philosophies. Masvidal wrote on his description or “The Lion’s Roar” that the album represents a new direction for Cynic. If they continue in this direction, you can count me in.

Overall: Will keep the discerning ear occupied with its complex layers and lyrics.

Rating: 4.0*

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