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Rating:
8.8
Cynic - Kindly Bent To Free Us
10 February 2014


01. True Hallucination Speak
02. The Lion's Roar
03. Kindly Bent To Free Us
04. Infinite Shapes
05. Moon Heart Sun Head
06. Gitanjali
07. Holy Fallout
08. Endlessly Bountiful
09. Earth Is My Witness [special edition bonus]


To summarize this review with a single analogy, this album is the musical equivalent of a Ming vase. Under pressure, it is highly fragile and can be shattered with relative ease. Yet if listeners handle it with delicacy, they may just find ripe beauty in its design, and in the clear effort that went into crafting it.

From the moment Kindly Bent To Free Us kicks off, you know it will be an album to completely divide opinions. Cynic have recently shown to be slowly moving away from the metal side of their music, and I think it's safe to say that this album completes this progression. It also sounds far slower than Cynic's previous works as a whole, which was my biggest challenge as a listener when getting into it. However, when I got past that, I was rewarded with a beautiful and ethereal soundscape that transported me into a world entirely of its own making.

The production of Kindly Bent To Free Us fully exposes the members of Cynic as musicians, and it is left up to the listener to decide for themselves whether or not to stab the naked body where it lies. Me personally, I loved it. Every single note played is extremely crisp (bonus points go to Malone's brilliant bass playing) and, while not nearly as heavy, the riffs are the most interesting that the band has produced since the Focus days. Overall, the album just has this great vibrancy to its sound that really just makes you feel at peace with the world.

I feel it's also worth giving special mention to the lyricism on Kindly Bent To Free Us, which delves into strong messages about the nature of the mind in comparison with the mind of nature (hence the fitting album art). However, this makes it a real shame when the only lyrics most people will remember is the one Rice Krispies reference found in the opening track.

So, with all that said and done, would I recommend this album to most of you metal fans? Honestly, no.

Kindly Bent To Free Us is one that substitutes all its metal edge for a completely smooth, textured finish. In addition to this, it's riddled with anti-climaxes that are many-a-metalhead's worst nightmare. Funnily enough, my favorite moments on this album were when the band took a much more "indie" direction with their sound, with "The Lion's Roar" containing some stunning musical layers and "Endlessly Bountiful" being an absolutely astounding end to the album, demonstrating a slow growth into a pure monstrosity of sound.

In conclusion, Kindly Bent To Free Us does something that I really wish more prog albums would take note of; it creates a sound completely of its own. Each of the three band members not only shine on their own front but actually support each other, raising the sound of the band to new heights. And in the end that's worth way more than odd time-signatures and 7-strings could ever be. This album really is something beautiful, and is perhaps some of Cynic's best work yet.

Performance: 10
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Production: 9


Band profile: Cynic
Album: Kindly Bent To Free Us


 


written by Lethrokai | 06.06.2014


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.



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Luneth - 19.06.2014 at 04:15  
True Hallucination Speaks and Moon Heart Sun Head are, for me, the highest points on this album. Gintanjali grows on you though, must say, 8.8 though? This album is, according to you, better than Focus because that album is technically more highly rated (deservedly so) than Traced in Air yet is often considered superior but is technically lower rated. I don't think many will agree with this review to be honest, the truth is Cynic cant replicate or better Focus and Traced in Air without making their music more metal, less rock/jazz.
Lethrokai - 19.06.2014 at 10:26  
Written by Luneth on 19.06.2014 at 04:15

True Hallucination Speaks and Moon Heart Sun Head are, for me, the highest points on this album. Gintanjali grows on you though, must say, 8.8 though? This album is, according to you, better than Focus because that album is technically more highly rated (deservedly so) than Traced in Air yet is often considered superior but is technically lower rated. I don't think many will agree with this review to be honest, the truth is Cynic cant replicate or better Focus and Traced in Air without making their music more metal, less rock/jazz.


Tbh, I wasn't exactly hoping to capture popular opinions about this album, as much as I was just trying to express why IT captured ME. Reviews naturally are (or at least, should be) down to the reviewer's own opinion on the album. There is no "truth" about any album, even if there is a large number of people agreeing about how they feel about it.

Naturally I'm not expecting people to read this review and start saying "Whoah, this album is better than Focus!" just because I think so. All I'm trying to do is explain why I like this album, what parts of it some may dislike, and why I personally actually DO believe it is better than Focus. Maybe then I might manage not to change other people's opinions, but to get people to look at this release from a slightly different angle. The general consensus will always be that Focus is the best thing Cynic have created, no matter what they do now. I'm just trying to do what any reviewer tries to do when looking at an album; provide my own unique perspective on its strengths and shortcomings.

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