Cynic
Kindly Bent to Free Us


4.0
excellent

Review

by Rowan5215 USER (20 Reviews)
March 25th, 2014 | 144 replies


Release Date: 02/14/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Kindly bent to free us/The joy, the sorrow and the pain

Trying to write a review for any Cynic album that doesn't delve into Focus' mammoth influence on the metal genre is certainly no easy task, and the fact that the act have had two excellent releases after a fourteen-year break since is undoubtedly not to be sneezed at. Having said that, Kindly Bent to Free Us is a work which needs to be regarded in its own space in order to be appreciated. Despite claims that the legendary metallers have abandoned their previous sound, Kindly Bent to Free Us follows a logical progression in sound from 2011's Carbon-Based Anatomy, and showcases a band newly aware of the advantages of restraint and leaving some breathing room for songs to flourish.

To begin with, Kindly Bent showcases a newfound pleasantness and flavour to Paul Masvidal's vocals that, vocoder or no, could be strongly lacking on past releases. Masvidal sings with passion on these songs, sometimes more than one would expect given the questionable nature of the lyrics (we'll get to those later). With the harsh vocals appearing for a grand total of about 4 seconds on the album, Masvidal is left for the first time to carry the vocal department entirely by himself on Kindly Bent. With the use of some beautifully executed backing vocals eg the bridge of "True Hallucination Speak", some more reliance on his natural singing voice, and some fantastic melodies (see the chorus of the title track) he succeeds with flying colours. He also has a good idea of when it is best not to overwhelm the listener with his vocals, as seen in closer "Endlessly Bountiful"; by sticking to a simple falsetto and making an effort to not write mountains of his infamous jumbled spiritual phrases, him and the band excel in creating the space for this song to breathe (pun intended).

This is certainly for the better, as Kindly Bent is by a distance the most vocal-centric album Cynic have released. The unbelievably talented rhythm section of Malone and Reinart have in no way lost their touch, but on Kindly Bent they are rarely brought into the foreground and instead used to lay the foundation upon which the songs can build their atmospheric flourishes. While this is understandably bad news for most fans, it's ultimately rewarding to hear the trio of Masvidal and the Seans putting aside technical ability for the moment and instead focusing upon working together as a unit. In fact, some of the best moments to be found on Kindly Bent to Free Us come from this newfound restraint; take the elegant bridge of "Moon Heart Sun Head", wherein the instruments abruptly drop out of hearing completely to give prominence to a quiet piano and spoken word section. Perhaps the biggest surprise, however, is the jazzy, groovy interlude which pops up at the end of "Endlessly Bountiful", almost akin to a cheerful wave goodbye to the listener as the album ends and the ambience of the track gradually fades.

In fact, although it may seem a generalising statement, it seems almost deliberate that on Kindly Bent the most jaw-dropping moments are saved for the bridge of each track. "The Lion's Roar" is saved from being essentially a pop song by the use of some stunning choir vocals in the bridge which seem to lift the song up into an ethereal high. Largely technical solos are absent from Kindly Bent, with their place seeming to have been usurped by fantastic bluesy pieces which showcase Masvidal's talent just as nicely. The title track utilises one of these (complete with some quiet scatting) as does "Infinite Shapes"; quieting the pace of the songs before leading back explosively into their respective gargantuan choruses. Having said all that, these stunning moments are admittedly few and far between in Kindly Bent, but are always supported by a solid framework and structure to avoid seeming incongruous.

It has to be said at this point that Masvidal's lyrics have always needed to be digested with a pretty hefty bag of salt, and on Kindly Bent they are even harder to take seriously than before. In fact, they fall so far short of any sort of spiritual or philosophical value whatsoever that they often end up being fairly funny in an eyebrow-raising sense (I'm sure we can all get a good laugh out of "An extremely yang solution to a peculiar problem"). The biggest problem that Kindly Bent faces, however, is not Masvidal's lyrical ramblings but rather the flat, dull production, which frequently undermines the talent of the band members and the atmosphere that they are evidently endeavouring to create on most songs. Ultimately, it seems clear that Kindly Bent to Free Us is an album which would truly come alive on the stage, but as its own piece of work, separated from the daunting discography which Cynic will now have to outlive, it has the legs to stand by itself.



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user ratings (390)
Chart.
3.2
good
other reviews of this album
Jacob R. STAFF (2.5)
Kellogg’s called, and they want their damned motto back....

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 
Rowan5215
March 25th 2014


26427 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I hope you're happy Jac you motherfucker
I love you though

Digging: Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
March 25th 2014


14352 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

If I have one thing to say about the review, it's that you introduce all the negatives in the
conclusion and end the review on a fairly drab note. But it's still good and I'm glad this finally has
a properly positive review.

Digging: We Will Fail - Verstörung

Rowan5215
March 25th 2014


26427 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Critique my writing/give me suggestions you smug bastard
That's why I did this
I tried to make it more straightforward and less wanky/verbose than my other reviews

Rowan5215
March 25th 2014


26427 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Its because the positives outweigh the negatives tbh
And yeah I didn't know how else to finish it help me with that

BigPleb
March 25th 2014


36666 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Great review Rowy, easy pos!

Digging: Arc Iris - Arc Iris

Rowan5215
March 25th 2014


26427 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks bud Jac made me write it at gunpoint

tommygun
March 25th 2014


24932 Comments


pos will read in a minute

fix that black triangle lad

Digging: Broods - Evergreen

tempest--
March 25th 2014


13476 Comments


you keep calling him Masdival instead of Masvidal but m/ pos

Digging: Jake Kaufman - Shovel Knight Original Soundtrack

Rowan5215
March 25th 2014


26427 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

These fucking black triangles just when you think they're gone

Rowan5215
March 25th 2014


26427 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Oh shit Lloyd I've been getting his name wrong for like 5 years straight then hahaha

Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
March 25th 2014


14352 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Hmmm, I had a similar problem with my review and I actually ended up rearranging pretty much the whole thing. Just take the points you introduced in the conclusion and insert them where appropriate in the previous paragraphs, this is also good for extracting further points you may have found difficult to introduce beforehand.

It has to be said at this point that Masdival's lyrics have always needed to be digested with a pretty hefty bag of salt, and on Kindly Bent they are even harder to take seriously than before. In fact, they fall so far short of any sort of spiritual or philosophical value whatsoever that they often end up being fairly funny in an eyebrow-raising sense (I'm sure we can all get a good laugh out of "An extremely yang solution to a peculiar problem").


This could fit nicely into the second paragraph with a little bit of condensing.

The point about the dull production could also be used in the third paragraph as an extension on what you said about their more atmospheric approach, as a reason for why it wasn't 100% effective.

Hope that helps at least a bit.

Rowan5215
March 25th 2014


26427 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Oh yeah I get what you mean Jac that's a good suggestion, but that sort of leaves me without an ending at all I gotta do the conclusion somehow hmmmmph

tommygun
March 25th 2014


24932 Comments


yup good stuff a little wordy in parts to steal a line from ocean's eleven 'don't use seven words when four will do' but otherwise nice nice nice

Rowan5215
March 25th 2014


26427 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Damn I specifically tried to make this less wordy, evidently I suck at that

tommygun
March 25th 2014


24932 Comments


ie you could drop the words 'certainly' and 'undoubtedly' from the very first sentence and it would
still have the same impact

Having said that, Kindly Bent to Free Us is a work which needs to be regarded in its own
space in order to be appreciated.


even little things like changing 'having said that' to 'that said'

it seems nitpicky but over the course of an article little nips and tucks make the whole thing lean
and mean all meat and no fat

i'm well aware that i'm rambling (and am often guilty of what i'm suggesting)

don't get me wrong it's a v nice piece this is all constructive

tempest--
March 25th 2014


13476 Comments


^^ basically what I said on yr last review, you stretch out sentences for lines and lines sometimes. doesn't seem as bad on this as the other one, but I've only really skimmed over it so far.

Greyvy
March 25th 2014


4506 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

only song I listen to in this is lions roar... :[ wish every song on here was that gay

Digging: Fat Pat - Ghetto Dreams

Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
March 25th 2014


14352 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Lion's Roar more like Lion's Snore d'ohohoohoohohohohohohohoo

Greyvy
March 25th 2014


4506 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

fk u.... that song is anything but boring to me.

an extremely yang solution :]

SnakeDelilah
March 25th 2014


7197 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

no

Digging: At the Drive-In - Relationship of Command



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