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Cynic: Kindly Bent To Free Us

Prog metal pioneers evolve once more

Having pulled off one of the most effective comebacks in metal history with 2008's universally lauded Traced In Air, Cynic arrive at their third full-length album safe in the knowledge that progressive rock and metal fans all over the planet will be frothing with anticipation.

In keeping with the contrary spirit that has made all their previous works so refreshing, Kindly Bent To Free Us sounds almost entirely unlike Traced In Air or 2011’s stopgap folly Carbon-Based Anatomy and presents an entirely unfamiliar new version of founder members Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert’s eccentric musical vision.

The band’s trademark jazz sparkle is very much in evidence, of course, but this is a more refined, delicate and restrained Cynic than anyone could have predicted back in the days of their seminal Focus debut. Dominated by cascading melodies, exquisitely fragile interwoven guitar motifs and Paul Masvidal’s disarmingly fragile and androgynous voice, songs like subtly tense opener True Hallucination Speak and iridescent epic Holy Fallout employ metal as just one of a dizzying array of textural components that collide like the colours of a kaleidoscope.

Another joyously idiosyncratic adventure, Kindly Bent… demands devotion, persistence and total surrender, but the rewards are utterly absorbing.

Dom Lawson has been writing for Hammer and Prog for 14 intermittently enjoyable years and is extremely fond of heavy metal, progressive rock, coffee and snooker. He listens to more music than you. And then writes about it.