Cynic
Kindly Bent to Free Us


2.5
average

Review

by Jacob R. STAFF
February 11th, 2014 | 469 replies


Release Date: 02/14/2014 | Tracklist

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

Albums like Kindly Bent To Free Us make me think about what musicians want from their careers. Until recently, it never was too hard to tell what made Cynic tick- the progressive metal troupe always aimed to be impactful. Between the genre-hopping of Focus and the closely-knit Traced In Air, both albums were huge in their own way. They sported those songs that just punch the listener in the gut, bolstering an impenetrable coupling of technicality and catchiness. Beyond that, though, Cynic’s first two full-lengths just felt otherworldly. The band represented space to a tee in these releases because they didn’t force it- they found textures that accompanied their musical ideas well, and used them fittingly as a result. I thought the band was content with doing this; it seemed their creative blend of jazz-fusion and progressive metal would keep them creatively appeased for at least a couple more releases. But Kindly Bent To Free Us laughs off that notion, through a full-fledged leap into… progressive rock?

Convenient as it may be to compare these guys to Opeth- that other successful death metal band who also totally hopped on the we-love-King-Crimson train- such a comparison isn’t as fair as it initially seems. While, for better or worse, Opeth successfully recreated the sound of its predecessors, Kindly Bent To Free Us only occasionally gets that far. The first two tracks on this record wear their ‘70s prog influence on their sleeve, and in the process, show a more uninhibited Cynic than we all know. After those songs, though, the experience becomes exponentially tamer with each passing moment- instead of beguiling the listener into paying attention, Kindly Bent To Free Us doesn’t even seem to care who’s listening. It lingers incessantly, offering songs that are drowsily and clumsily written. For starters, the songs at hand flirt with musical ideas that seem to only be interesting to Cynic- much of this record deals with sounds we’ve already heard in progressive, and done far more expressively in the past. Furthermore, Kindly Bent To Free Us falls into many of the tropes employed by Cynic clones- flat melodies and painful transitioning. Just listen to the promising introduction to “Infinite Shapes,” and then how it bottoms out into insubstantial riffage. And I don’t feel the need to elaborate on the fact that some of these lyrics are outright abysmal: “snap, crackle, pop”? How much did Kellogg's pay you for that subtle endorsement, Mr. Masvidal?

Back to the music. For being six years in the works, Kindly Bent To Free Us sounds exclusively written from an arbitrarily chosen Cynic jam session. It just feels too organic for a band that has always strived to make space-oriented music. Until now they’d always succeeded at that goal- otherworldly anthems like “King Of Those Who Know” encapsulate everything at which Cynic is best, and just from the first few seconds. Instead, this record hands the listener vocoder and overly-textured guitar tones- it’s overkill for music that instead should be offering solid riffs. Note to Cynic: build a solid foundation for your music first, then worry about giving it atmosphere. So while Kindly Bent To Free Us carries Cynic’s trademark sound, it simultaneously sounds like it could’ve been written by a number of groups. And the most concerning quality of the album is that Cynic loves it all the same- it’s the music they wanted to give to the world. If this is the music that makes Cynic happy, then I haven’t a damned clue what’s in it for us Cynic fans, because this release is the definition of insubstantial.



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user ratings (409)
Chart.
3.2
good
other reviews of this album
Rowan5215 (4)
Kindly bent to free us/The joy, the sorrow and the pain...

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

Alex Newton (3)
As confounding as it is interesting, "Kindly Bent to Free Us" continues Cynic's increasingly pop-ori...

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


Comments:Add a Comment 
FiveLeavesLeft
February 11th 2014


9838 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Oh lawdy, here we go

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
February 11th 2014


10269 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Stream Kindly Bent To Free Us via Pitchfork AtavanHalence:

http://pitchfork.com/advance/341-kindly-bent-to-free-us/

Rowan5215
February 11th 2014


27199 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

People seem to be under the illusion that Cynic have EVER had good lyrics

Digging: Vestascension - Breaching the Sound

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
February 11th 2014


10269 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

It's just that the lyrics are at the forefront here, so the inadequacies are even more apparent

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
February 11th 2014


16433 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

album sucks

People seem to be under the illusion that Cynic have EVER had good lyrics


yeah but now that there are just terrible clean vocals and nothing else of interest going on we are forced to pay attention to them

Digging: Swallowed - Lunarterial

KILL
February 11th 2014


71957 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off


yeah but now that there are just terrible clean vocals and nothing else of interest going on we are forced to pay attention to them

123 some people man

Digging: Exodus - Blood In, Blood Out

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
February 11th 2014


19911 Comments


dat summary

Digging: Dornenreich - Freiheit

Azn.
February 11th 2014


5612 Comments


wait what's kellogg's motto?...

Digging: Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

Rowan5215
February 11th 2014


27199 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

So you're saying because they drowned Paul's voice in vocoder and had horrible mumbly harsh vocals beforehand, the lyrics were less noticeable?
I just don't get it I mean I love Focus and TIA a lot but the lyrics here are not noticeably worse at all

mindleviticus
February 11th 2014


8292 Comments


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


what

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
February 11th 2014


16433 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

where are the growlz

Ryus
February 11th 2014


3112 Comments


the hate this is getting

Digging: As We Draw - Mirages

KILL
February 11th 2014


71957 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

the lyrics werent rly the focus on focus, more so on traced and even more so on here so it sucks even harder see

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
February 11th 2014


16433 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

So you're saying because they drowned Paul's voice in vocoder and had horrible mumbly harsh
vocals beforehand, the lyrics were less noticeable?


Yes. Plus the instruments were... I dunno... sort of interesting on their other albums.

KILL
February 11th 2014


71957 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

and the growls on focus fucking rule pussy

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
February 11th 2014


10269 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

the summary is actually explained in the review, which is a cool thing i did

FiveLeavesLeft
February 11th 2014


9838 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

A staff review at 2.5/5, a staff review at 2/5, and a 3.2 average... boy oh boy, the boys at Cynic won't be pleased to see that

Rowan5215
February 11th 2014


27199 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"werent rly the focus on focus"
hehe


KILL
February 11th 2014


71957 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

crysis dude textures is the best song ever

Rowan5215
February 11th 2014


27199 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@Crysis the bass on this album is still fucking groovy, so



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