Cynic
Kindly Bent to Free Us


3.0
good

Review

by Alex Newton USER (43 Reviews)
February 10th, 2014 | 32 replies | 1,775 views


Release Date: 02/14/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: As confounding as it is interesting, "Kindly Bent to Free Us" continues Cynic's increasingly pop-oriented direction with mixed results.

7 of 11 thought this review was well written

If Kindly Bent to Free Us is your first impression of Cynic, then you’ll be in for a shock upon looking into this metal legend’s back catalogue. Paul Masvidal, Sean Malone, and Sean Reinert comprise Cynic’s core, and while they’ve left an indelible mark on extreme metal over the last quarter-century, Cynic has lately left its fan base divided, if not totally bewildered. Sure, the upbeat swing of “The Lion’s Roar” bears little face-value resemblance to cuts from the band’s classic 1993 album Focus, but in a weird way it seems like we should have seen this coming all along as shredded leads and death growls have steadily given way to ethereal atmospheres and intricately layered compositions. Thinking back, though, is the intro of “Kindly Bent to Free Us” really so far from that of “I’m But a Wave To”? For long-time followers, it seems high time to let go of our notions on what Cynic was and appreciate what it is, and has always been – a group of musicians willing to push the envelope of progressive music in any way possible. Unfortunately for Cynic, it seems to have taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way.

2011’s Carbon-Based Anatomy is the obvious starting point for Kindly Bent to Free Us, as Masvidal finally brought his brainchild fully into the realm of progressive rock. It also gave us the first glimpse of how totally bizarre his lyrical concepts are becoming, with titles like “Elves Beam Out” and “Bija!” Farther back, the chorus of “Adam’s Murmur” seems like a precursor to Kindly’s equally strange “Moon Heart Sun Head,” a song whose hemiola-based rhythms are interesting but unsteady. While Reinert’s drum work certainly lacks the pace of much of his other work in Cynic and Death, his polyrhythmic precision nonetheless remains vital to Cynic’s new sound. “True Hallucination Speak” revolves around bass and cymbal hits that never seem to land in the same place twice, lending the song a live-jam feel until its halfway point. After a double-time peak, Masvidal’s falsetto vocals take over, and a riff is gradually re-established through the song’s fading conclusion. It’s a relaxing but somewhat unconvincing way to start the album, and fortunately things pick up soon as it gives way to the lively shuffle of “The Lion’s Roar.”

If you’ve read any of Masvidal’s interviews, you’ll get an idea how convoluted the band’s own view of the album is: “It's kind of like, to me, coming into Cynic's body more...I'm big in the space. It's definitely new. It's not like anything we've done before. It's a new color, a new space…it's a new space for Cynic, for sure. It definitely sounds like us, except completely new." The gist there seems to be lots of space, a lot of meditation, and probably some mind-altering substances. There is, indeed, lots of space in the album, as evidenced by the closing track, “Endlessly Bountiful.” Whatever groove the song has is totally buried behind sci-fi synths and echoed chants of the song’s title, foregoing anything resembling popular music until a short spurt of drumming two thirds of the way through. Just as it seems the album will close with all this spacey nonsense, a jazzy duet between Malone’s walking bass and Masvidal’s glassy guitar tones wraps things up beautifully. It’s moments like this that keep Kindly Bent to Free Us from being a total disaster, as Cynic lives up to its reputation as a progressive mastermind, if only for a moment here and there.

For all Masvidal’s claims about how “We’ve had a lot of time to let this material develop and gestate, and it finally feels ready to be unleashed on the world,” something about Kindly Bent to Free Us still seems incomplete, like the ideas didn’t always quite coalesce. Songs meander without a climax, ideas – even some great ones like the explosive first riff of “Infinite Shapes” – hover and leave without making their point, and the whole exercise generally begs as to what could have been. From a technical standpoint, Cynic is as impressive as ever as it fuses jazzy guitar lines with sinuous bass playing and fleeting song structures, but the whole of it feels more like a brainstorming session than a complete experience the way Traced in Air and Focus did. Cynic’s musicianship is still top-notch, even if you’re among those who (understandably) cannot stand Masvidal’s feather-soft vocals, so even the more scattershot songs on Kindly Bent to Free Us are valuable from a musical standpoint. Still, it is an exercise that is often more curious than convincing, leaving many of us wondering when Cynic will finish its celestial voyage and return to its more comprehensible, earthly – and ultimately more fulfilling – roots.



Recent reviews by this author
Echoes of Eon ImmensityThe Great Old Ones Tekeli-Li
Thou HeathenGamma Ray Empire of the Undead
Soreption Engineering The VoidSunn O))) and Ulver Terrestrials
user ratings (378)
Chart.
3.2
good
other reviews of this album
Rowan5215 (4)
Kindly bent to free us/The joy, the sorrow and the pain...

Jacob R. STAFF (2.5)
Kellogg’s called, and they want their damned motto back....

Brendan Schroer STAFF (2)
One big blur from beginning to end....

Jacquibim CONTRIBUTOR (3)
A case of a good album still equating to failure....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
February 10th 2014



13941 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Take two?

Digging: Abigor - Leytmotif Luzifer

pedro70512
February 10th 2014



2530 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

First posted on Muzik Dizcovery.

Reworked and, hopefully, improved from the first version. Feedback of all kinds is appreciated.

FearThyEvil
February 10th 2014



12467 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Bet Cynic wish they could take two. Pretty disappointing album.

Calc
February 10th 2014



12114 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

day-zha-vue

Digging: He Is Legend - Heavy Fruit

Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
February 10th 2014



13941 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Difficult to fault the review on much, then again I didn't really see what was wrong with the first
version.

While Reinert’s drum work certainly lacks the pace of much of his other work in Cynic and
Death, his polyrhythmic precision nonetheless remains vital to Cynic’s new sound – “True
Hallucination Speak” revolves around bass and cymbal hits that never seem to land in the same place
twice, lending the song a live-jam feel until its halfway point, and after a double-time peak,
Masvidal’s falsetto vocals take over and a riff is gradually re-established through the song’s
fading conclusion.


You'll definitely need to break this up though.

pedro70512
February 10th 2014



2530 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yep, already working on that one haha.

Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
February 10th 2014



13941 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Sweet, would also be good to see some negative and positive reviews for this, as opposed to the lukewarm ones it's gotten so far. Interested in seeing what people have to say.

FiveLeavesLeft
Staff Reviewer
February 10th 2014



9825 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

I'm gonna review it tonight, probably gonna give it a 2.5 as I've rated it

pedro70512
February 10th 2014



2530 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I could probably justify anything from a 1.5 to a 4 on this if I tried hard enough. I wonder if anyone's done that (reviewed the same album two ways).

tempest--
February 10th 2014



13041 Comments


gonna neg so you delete this one too

Digging: Kimbra - The Golden Echo

Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
February 10th 2014



13941 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Don't be a bitch unemplloyd

FiveLeavesLeft
Staff Reviewer
February 10th 2014



9825 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Well shit, I like this even less now. So goddamn directionless and plodding

pedro70512
February 10th 2014



2530 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"gonna neg so you delete this one too"

be my guest.

FiveLeavesLeft
Staff Reviewer
February 10th 2014



9825 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

After listening to this over 20 times, I can safely say that I still remember none of it

Rowan5215
February 10th 2014



25046 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nooooooooo

Digging: Shihad - FVEY

tempest--
February 10th 2014



13041 Comments


i didnt neg btw

FiveLeavesLeft
Staff Reviewer
February 10th 2014



9825 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Yeah, screw whoever neg'd, it was a good review

BigPleb
February 10th 2014



35406 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Enjoy this regardless.

Gwyn.
February 10th 2014



14988 Comments


1 neg better delete and remake it a little more

Digging: diSEMBOWELMENT - Transcendence into the Peripheral

pedro70512
February 10th 2014



2530 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

2 negs I'm a failure not reviewing anymore

someone finish this



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy