Cynic
Kindly Bent to Free Us


3.0
good

Review

by Jacquibim CONTRIBUTOR (63 Reviews)
February 7th, 2014 | 240 replies


Release Date: 02/14/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A case of a good album still equating to failure.

Having carved their own legacy through the distortion of tradition and frequent stylistic reinvention, Cynic stands as one of the most acclaimed and universally respected progressive acts of today. Having never been ones to repeat themselves, it does seem slightly misguided to berate Cynic for a shift in direction. Fans longing for a Focus part two will not be sated by Kindly Bent to Free Us, and truth be told, never will. When Focus dropped in 1993, it was the antithesis of tradition – a jangly yet brilliant synthesis of jazz fusion, progressive rock and death metal – peerless to the extent that over twenty years later, it is yet to be even vaguely imitated. This is what gives Cynic their mystique. To expect a Focus part two is to misunderstand Cynic’s vision entirely, which is where Kindly Bent to Free Us both succeeds and falters to varying degrees.

Musically stripped down compared to its predecessors yet intrinsically Cynic-y, this album was always going to divide the fan base, one side applauding the band’s resilience in creating something new, the other disconsolate by the album’s relative simplicity. Kindly Bent to Free Us concretely marks Cynic’s migration from progressive metal to rock, the minor traces of metal that permeated Carbon-Based Anatomy now entirely absent. The band’s technical prowess, while still obvious, is subdued and sparsely flaunted. Rarely does Masvidal’s guitar work or Reinert’s drumming delve into the same kind of rhythmic complexity that characterised both Focus and Traced in Air. More often than not, it’s the bass of Sean Malone that adds the extra dimensional touches, ubiquitously oscillating away as the guitars focus more on interplay and timbre than rhythm. The spacey sections that once served as relief mechanisms are pushed the foreground, paired with catchier riffs and drum patterns more reminiscent of those of Aeon Spoke than anything Cynic have previously released. Juxtaposition of the vibrant and the tranquil proves to be the album’s biggest asset, the title track and “Holy Fallout” being the best examples of this by virtue of their excellent pacing and diverse instrumentation.

While more self-possessed instrumentation is potentially an advantage if atmosphere becomes the main focus, the lack of said atmosphere proves to be the album’s Achilles heel. Without the persistent, exemplary rhythms characteristic of previous work, Kindly Bent to Free Us underwhelms with surprising regularity. “The Lion’s Roar” comes across as Cynic’s attempt to break into the charts, structurally indistinguishable from a mundane pop-rock single and instrumentally redundant. While an exceptional guitarist, Paul Masvidal’s vocal performance is little more than a nuisance here. The omnipresent vocoder effect does little to mask the flat, dreary delivery, which doubles as being the conveyor of some laughable lyrics. The sound engineering doesn’t do the music too many favours. Apart from some generous mixing on the bass, the general sound is a little compressed and flat, partially depriving the album of the “spacey” aesthetic that was intended. Despite the production however, tracks such as “Gitanjali” and “Endlessly Bountiful” still manage to come across as surprisingly ethereal through the use of instrumental accents and layering. Though a mixed bag, the album generally hits more than it misses.

Kindly Bent to Free Us is case of a good album still equating to failure, given that it’s the product of a band where excellence is considered a prerequisite. Even at their most pedestrian, Cynic still manage to outdo a number of their contemporaries, but it’s difficult not to be overcome with pessimism when the band’s back catalogue beckons. Nevertheless, Kindly Bent to Free Us succeeds in introducing a new chapter in Cynic’s career, albeit one that is clouded in mere cautious optimism from a fan’s point of view. The formula for another brilliant album has been conjured, and this album may well have just been a rough transition, only time will tell.



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good
other reviews of this album
Rowan5215 (4)
Kindly bent to free us/The joy, the sorrow and the pain...

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Kellogg’s called, and they want their damned motto back....

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As confounding as it is interesting, "Kindly Bent to Free Us" continues Cynic's increasingly pop-ori...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
February 7th 2014


15213 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Realised halfway through writing this that's it's technically my first non-m/m/m/m/ review. Not exactly the way I wanted to mark the occasion but it is what it is.

Hope you like the review :D

Digging: Blaspherian - Upon The Throne of Eternal Blasphemous Death

BigPleb
February 7th 2014


37920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Great review again, easy pos.

The closer on here is p dreadful though, imo.

Digging: Arc Iris - Arc Iris

Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
February 7th 2014


15213 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Thanks pleb, I like the closer itself, but I don't really understand the track's inclusion. It seems like a way for the album to cool down, but it barely heated up to begin with.

tempest--
February 7th 2014


14620 Comments


pos can you just get auto-features pls

BigPleb
February 7th 2014


37920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Feels super contrived, like they took the 'dreary' sound as far as they could go so just threw in an 'epic' closer instead.

That being said, when this album hits its hits hard (in a soft way haha.)

Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
February 7th 2014


15213 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Album hits kindly agreed.

Cheers lloyd, but even if I got one Omaha will snag it so..

BigPleb
February 7th 2014


37920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Well, considering you are better than most staff-writers on here I think not.

VermTheImpaler
February 7th 2014


1360 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

After the low rating I expected the worse, but it was enjoyable. Still, is not at the same level of their old shit. Anyways, those low ratings of 2 are a complete joke

DrHouseSchuldiner
February 7th 2014


5643 Comments


Jac ur reviews are great as always so have a pos,prob wont rate this cuz i cant give a cynic album negative rating but hey we still have focus m/m/

Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
February 7th 2014


15213 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

@pleb, thaaaaat's a bit of a stretch methinks.

Are you actually behaving yourself Verm?

BigPleb
February 7th 2014


37920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Well not really, every review you've done is concise and none of them meander.

Most Staff on here write extremely well but don't have the consistency that you possess.

tempest--
February 7th 2014


14620 Comments


fuck the system if your review is good enough it should be featured Jacob can suck it!

VermTheImpaler
February 7th 2014


1360 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'm only mean with scene crap fans, shitty mainstream rap fanboys, limp bizkit followers and ironic hipsters. For the other stuff I'm more tolerant and civilized

Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
February 7th 2014


15213 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

As nice as your sentiments are it only makes sense than the actual staff take precedence, but thank you :D

BigPleb
February 7th 2014


37920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

You'll be Staff in a couple of years Jac, guaranteed.

Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
February 7th 2014


15213 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Sweet, whisper in Jom's ear for me :D

Wizard
February 7th 2014


19644 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Had this for a few days now and I have no idea what the fuck to think!

Digging: Ash Borer - Cold of Ages

Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
February 7th 2014


15213 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

That's heavy, I think we can all benefit from a collective position of neutrality here.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
February 7th 2014


7464 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Great review, Jac.

EvoHavok
February 7th 2014


1498 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great writing! Someone make this guy a contrib already.

Digging: DIR EN GREY - Arche



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