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Season Of Mist – Out Now.

Ask any fan of the US Progressive Metal trio Cynic if six years is a very long time to wait for the release of a new album from their beloved band and chances are that what you will get in return will be a resounding ‘yes’.

Really, though, if anyone’s to blame for our impatience that’s the band itself! 2008’s “Traced In Air” was a magnificent record that placed these fine Floridians back at the top of the Prog Metal league and so one would assume that the band would be more than keen to keep a healthy momentum going.

The three EPs that the band subsequently released only really increased our appetite for a new album – one that is finally about to be satisfied by studio record number three, called “Kindly Bend To Free Us”.

I admit I was a bit apprehensive when I downloaded the eight new compositions from Season of Mist, since I knew that Paul Masvidal’s trademark growls were no longer part of the picture and I was unsure how the new material would compare with the brilliant work the band released six years ago.

Well, even though “Kindly Bent To Free Us” has a more classic Prog mindset, with certain ‘metallic’ elements dropped in favour of a more universally-accepted sound, the end result is pretty stunning indeed! Masvidal’s Jazz-fuelled syncopated guitar riffs still battle for dominance with Sean Reinert’s intricate drum beats and clever fills and as for Sean Malone’s contribution…well, let’s just say that the legend of the fretless bass has been an integral element in this album’s resounding success!

The groove laden theme of the opening track “True Hallucination Speak” is superb; this is a composition that further benefits from Masvidal’s cleverly crafted multi-layered vocal contribution. What makes this band so great is its ability to make the most complicated of arrangements so easily accessible, a case in point being “The Lion’s Roar”.

While the rhythm section Malone/Reinert plays its socks off in the background, Masvidal’s lead melodies are capable of attracting the most straight-forward of music tastes – an exercise that is repeated to in the same-titled composition which follows and whose main melody makes my hair stand on end every time I listen to it.

While “Infinite Shapes” is all about the textured guitar arrangements, it is Malone’s bass tones which take centre stage in the emotionally-charged “Moon Heart Sun Head”, while the four minute “Gitanjali” wins the prize for the more elegantly performed composition, hands down.

Moody guitar harmonies, softly spoken layered vocal narrations, flashy riffs…all of that and more can be found in the technically challenging “Holy Fallout” while “Endlessly Bountiful”, the song charged with providing an ending to this magnificent album, does so by giving an insight into the band’s musical genius by proving how only real artists can build a masterpiece upon the simplest of musical ideas.

There are not enough words to praise Cynic for having created an album as varied, colourful and inspiring as “Kindly Bent To Free Us” – a release that was certainly worth the six year wait.

While most other bands would have opted towards releasing “Traced In Air No 2” this fantastic trio has decided to push its musical boundaries even further and the end result is a stunning experience.

Twenty years ago Cynic were the band of choice for the intelligent extreme Metal fan – hopefully this new album will make more people realise what they’ve been missing all these years. A truly magnificent piece of work!

John Stefanis

Rating : ***** (5.0/5.0)

 

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