Cynic - _Kindly Bent to Free Us_
(Season of Mist, 2014)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (9 out of 10)
A new Cynic album is not a headline one sees popping up every two to three years. These Floridian masters of jazz/death fusion turned art rock maestros do not partake in the typical album cycle of continuous touring and recording. With fifteen years between their debut masterpiece _Focus_ and their majestic sophomore release _Traced in Air_, coming up with a third album in the space of six years seems like quite the improvement. Nevertheless, here we are with another household name that has finally graced us with a new album. Aside from Behemoth's hitherto top release of 2014 and the highly anticipated At the Gates album, Cynic's third album is a massive metal highlight this year.

Coming under the moniker _Kindly Bent to Free Us_, this is Cynic's longest full-length at nearly forty-two minutes. Yet, as we argued in our yearly "Withstanding the March of Time" article, Cynic is a band that doesn't need to be anywhere near the hour mark to deliver its potent payload. _Kindly Bent to Free Us_ is not a rollercoaster type album with lots of different sections coming after each other without any repetition. The choruses on "True Hallucination Speak" and the title track, for example, are actually repeated enough to stick in one's memory after the first couple of listens. This however does not undermine the album's writing one bit. The layering of sound throughout the album is simply sublime, as is expected from such highly seasoned musicians.

One track that does sway in terms of structure is the penultimate piece, "Holy Fallout". Drummer Sean Reinert enjoys a bit of extra space in the middle as he hands over to a serene section with ethereal keyboards and Paul Masvidal's signature synthesized vocals. "The Lion's Roar" and "Infinite Shapes" create a more energetic atmosphere thanks to their flowing dynamics, and placing "Kindly Bent to Free Us" (which comes with a few calmer sections) between them makes the album's flow ever more exciting. Aside from the top-notch musical performance, the album's lyrics provide depth in another dimension as they delve into philosophical concepts like the spoken word segment on "Moon Heart Sun Head" and the link between humans and mother Earth, like on "Endlessly Bountiful" and the aforementioned "Holy Fallout".

Aside from considering the album by the sum of its parts, one must also consider it in the context of Cynic's continuity as a band. The previous two releases were EPs that were a little tricky to digest by fans because they hinted at a permanent change in the Cynic sound. _Re-traced_ was a reinterpretation of _Traced in Air_, and _Carbon-Based Anatomy_ included enough ambient sections to make any fan believe that Cynic are well on their way to a full transformation of the Ulver kind. Yet the release of _Kindly Bent to Free Us_ does not confirm this speculation. It's a heavy album with loud guitars, pulsating fretless bass and aggressive drumming; an album that proves that Cynic are indeed alive and, most importantly, relevant. There's an obvious experimental side to it, yet it is rife with Cynic authenticity from top to bottom. That is the mark of a legendary band.


(article published 19/3/2014)

5/6/2012 J Carbon 5 Cynic - The Portal Tapes
12/8/2011 D Lake 10 Cynic - Carbon-Based Anatomy
1/15/2009 J Ulrey 9.5 Cynic - Traced in Air
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