Cynic – Kindly Bent to Free Us – 8.5/10

– Cynic return, and like always, they continue to reinvent themselves, much to the dismay of the fans who are looking for them to sound like they did on Focus. I personally, would not mind if they went back to the Traced in Air sound, but through Re-Traced, Carbon Based Anatomy, and now this, Cynic has continued to sound more like Paul and Sean’s project Aeon Spoke (which they focused on while Cynic was on hiatus). This is nothing to complain about honestly, because I am happy as long as Paul and Sean continue to put out music. These are two of the most underrated musicians in my opinion. Sure Cynic is legendary in technical death metal for their first album, but Sean is one of my all time favorite drummers, and Paul is a great singer, incredible songwriter, and incredible guitarist. I hope they continue to feel absolute musical freedom and do whatever they want, because I’d love to hear more and more of the diversity that they are capable of. This album sees great moments of catchy melodies, guitar riffs and solos, drumming, and the prevalent bass skills of Sean Malone. The album starts with “True Hallucination Speak” with a song that sounds similar to “Wheels Within Wheels” or “Carbon-Based Anatomy”, so we start in familiar territory. From there, “The Lion’s Roar” is upbeat and more poppy, kind of the way “Box Up My Bones” was from the Carbon-Based Anatomy EP. “Kindly Bent to Free Us” could have been on Traced In Air if there was growled vocals in it, and “Infinite Shapes” reminds me of “Elves Beam Out”. “Moon Heart Sun Head” is a little bit more progressive and even contains a section with a sound clip talking over soft guitar playing. I love how Paul sings the line “one in the same” throughout the song with middle eastern style singing behind it. “Gitanjali” provides a nice big sound between the instruments and allows for some headbanging through its simple structure. “Holy Fallout”, like “Kindly Bent to Free Us” sounds like it could have been on Traced in Air with its proggy feel around its basic strong structures and memorable melodies. Finally, they end the album on a positive and uplifting note with the song “Endlessly Bountiful” which starts off dark and droning, but has major chord progression that is able to emerge from it all. The album took me a couple of listens to be able to really separate each song in my head. It has a nice flow throughout that almost made it hard to think about the melody of one song when compared to another. It is by far the longest Cynic album, but sometimes left me wanting more because of the lack of heaviness. The long sections of soft parts are beautiful, but like Alcest it would be nice if they didn’t throw away a part of their arsenal completely. Also, the way the album is mixed is a little weird to my ear because the bass is in the front, the vocals are kind of in the back, and it makes it feel compressed or even suffocating. However, I got to give this album a high rating because it is some of my favorite musicians doing what they do best, and are even going out on tour to support it.