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Tag Archives: Cynic

Year End List for 2014

I did no reviews last year. Therefore, I’m going to still do a top 10 list and disappointment list for 2014 releases. Without further ado, here goes my ten favorite releases from last year:

10: Junius – Days of the Fallen Sun EP: Stunningly heavy and dense without ever having to go into traditional metal tropes, Junius’ short release burned up my headphones for quite a long time in 2014.

9: Bloodbath – “Grand Morbid Funeral”: Yes, please, more with the heavy and the dark and the genuinely old school feel and vibe. I completely enjoyed this album.

8: Alcest – “Shelter”: Dream pop at its finest, but the overall sound lost contrast quickly when the intensity was removed.

7. Agalloch – “The Serpent & the Sphere”: A band, whose music is typically dense, melancholic, and reminiscent of the sky just before the clouds break, offers up a serving of the coldest, darkest music they’ve done to date in my opinion.

6. Devin Townsend Project – “Z2: Dark Matters”:  Campy, original, filled with fart jokes, and evoking a 50s radio play, this album’s jaunt through Dev’s witticisms is fun if not a touch too saccharine at points.

5. Behemoth – “The Satanist”: Ranked this high due to the sheer factor of sarcasm dripping from Nergal’s voice in the first track: “Blow your trumpet, Gabriel!”  I was never a fan before, but I find that I am now.

And, because I’m a massive and amazingly terrible writer that cannot make up his mind, I have 4 albums in a tie for the first spot, depending on my mood (which will be listed below) and these are in no particular order:

1d.) Causalities of Cool – “Causalities of Cool”: Dark, melancholic space country rock?  WTF, Dev?  This album has seriously some of the most amazing textures, rolling noise, and themes I’ve heard in a long time. Here’s “Ether” from that album that demonstrates this wonderfully:

I found myself gravitating to this when I was feeling extraordinarily stressed or needing to reflect.

1c.) Opeth – “Pale Communion”:  Holy shit, it’s not a jangled mess of riffs and thoughts. While I enjoyed Heritage, it was like a sentence fragment.  Here’s “Moon Above, Sun Below” from the album:

I found myself going to this one when I needed the melancholy feels from Opeth and when I wanted something openly and unrepentantly creative.

1b.) Solstafir – “Otta”:  This album defines Iceland in my mind now. It is stunningly gorgeous, filled with texture, and wonderfully performed. Here’s “Lagnaetti” from the album:

Similar to Casualties of Cool, I found myself coming to this album as I could when I needed a bit of stress relief. Even the abrasive moments are wonderfully performed and never out of context or character.

1a.) Tritypkon – Melana Chasmata”:  Oppressively heavy, stunningly depressive, and at times hauntingly beautiful, the album hits a progressive metal fan right in the gut and does everything it needs to do well.  Further it has a love poem dedicated to Emily Bronte on it. I enjoyed their first album greatly, but I didn’t get overwhelmed by it.

I came to this album again and again just because I wanted to hear it.  It appealed to times when I was down, but also times when I needed to explore a different headspace.

Biggest disappointments of 2014:

1.) Soen – “Tellurian”: Their first release, “Cognitive,” stunned me.  It was an amazing album.  This album I listed to maybe to or three tracks and switched to a different band and never went back.

2.) Encoffination – “III: Hear me, O Death (Sing Thou Wretched Choirs)”:  This album was on the list because if you are going to name yourself with something as off  the wall as this, then you better damn well be good.  They weren’t.

3.) Mayhem – “Esoteric Warfare”:  These are the fathers of Norwegian Black Metal?  Eeeeeesh.

Two Albums that Blew My Fucking Mind:

1.) Primus & the Chocolate Factory:  Like listening to the soundtrack only (no pictures) of the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on LSD.  I need not say more.  Listen to this album.

2.) Cynic – “Kindly Bent to Free Us:” Like listening to the soundtrack of peace and harmony on LSD.

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Posted by on January 30, 2015 in Accountability, Art, Lists, Music, Ranks

 

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Diurnal Aural Experiences: Cynic’s “Evolutionary Sleeper”

Enjoy!  That’s all for today!

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2013 in Art, Music

 

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Nocturnal Rumination: Hippie Metal, Pt 2.

Okay, so, I ended with the divergence of the Norwegian and Swedish metal styles, both of which still held this very strong naturalistic bent to their lyrical qualities and musical soundscapes, bringing us into the early 90s metal scenes that began the foundation for the modern Black Metal scene.

Amon Amarth, a Swedish Metal Band, focused on folkloric style lyrics (note that I’m not using Viking here, because the band states that they are not a viking band).  They are very much in line with the Swedish Death Metal style with skullpounding riffs, double bass drummed assaults, and a strong combination of nature and traditional life way lyrical themes and music.  Their album Once Sent from the Golden Hall (1998) began the exploration of this sound:

Finland’s Amorphis got in on the act three years earlier with their album Tales from the Thousand Lakes.  It is a doom filled exploration of Finnish National Identity and its relationship with nature and the land.  Their earliest release reminds of Katatonia with a bit more death metal energy than that band would ever show:

This would continue for Amorphis as they evolved and continued their style as well, slowly stripping their sound down and becoming more rock oriented with folksy sounds interjected.  Their most recent releases have worked with very specific ideas from the Kalevala, while their most recent release is an exploration of a concept of an unlucky man.

Ultimately, I choose these examples because of the Power Metal quality of both bands; the high concept lyrics and themes are very much from the Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Saxon metal styles.  The degree to which this is ramped up is heavily dependent on the overall feel and atmosphere the band wishes to create.  With Amon Amarth, it seems to be very high, whereas with Amorphis at first it is a touch lower.

The black metal style continued to evolve, especially in the underground scene, and became more and more antagonistic to world religions in general. Taake, a band whose music I generally do not like and whose showmanship is highly questionable, began on the scene in early 90s as Thule and released as full length titled Nattestid ser porten vid in 1999 after several demos in the mid-90s.  They adhered fully and heavily to the Black Metal sound:

Taake continues to this day and is best known for using Black Metal Banjo on their song “Myr” off the album Noregs vaapen.

Ulver began in 1995 with Bergtatt – Et eeventyr i 5 capitler (Taken to the Mountain, a fairytale in five chapters).  In this black metal did not snarl straight for your throat, rather it became a cold backdrop of the mountains, evoking a dark, frozen landscape.  Ulver truly began setting the sounds of modern shoegaze influenced black metal on this piece and at the same time really emphasized the folk aspects of the style:

It demonstrated that black metal could be used to create mystery and that the sound could be more than the sum of its parts alone and could be incorporated into something far larger.

In the US, these styles were begin coalesced into the Technical Death Metal scene, specifically in Florida.  Early on, the themes had very little to do with nature at all.  Death, with their 1991 release Human, began this introspective approach in the States to very technical music and metal:

Cynic, Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinnart, were instrumental players in this scene in 1993 on their initial release of Focus, bringing esoteric philosophy to the table.  Their Buddhist lyrics and duality between heavy and light, dark and bright, &c was a watershed moment:

Generally, the American scene was thrashier (owing to the Bay Area scene popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s), but was starting to bring in the acidic growls and the introspective, philosophical themes that the members of the bands believed.  It is a divergence from the Scandinavian styles in this vein, because it focused on the quantity of the soul and the mind rather than the physical.

This brings us to the oldest band of the burgeoning CBM scene in America: Agalloch.  Their 1999 release, Pale Folklore, extends from the aforementioned though most closely resembles Amorphis, Katatonia, and Ulver:

As they were the first to my knowledge, I choose to end this part here as I’ve hit 750 words and at this point for those of you still awake, you’ll start falling that much more asleep I’m certain.  We’ll continue tomorrow with the movement into the 2000s and the re-emergence of this style in several different places around the world.

 

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2013 in Art, Geek, Landscape, Music, Nature, Philosophy

 

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Diurnal Aural Experiences: Cynic’s “The Space for This” (2008) and “Space” (2010)

Two interpretations of one song; enjoy!

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2013 in Accountability, Art, Music, Philosophy

 

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Diurnal Aural Experiences: Cynic’s Carbon-Based Anatomy (2011)

A beautiful LP release from a very creative, thoughtful band.

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2013 in Art, Music, Nature, Space, Surrealism

 

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Diurnal Aural Experiences: Cynic’s The Space for This.

Yes, Paimona has stolen the music posts for this week. I felt like sharing the music that inspires me when I draw.

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2012 in Inspiration, Music

 

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Diurnal Aural Experience: Cynic – The Unknown Guest (2008)

Technical, heavy, atmospheric, yet not at all brutal or cloyingly masturbatory for the sake of awesome showmanship; Cynic offers a wonderful listening experience.  The music is otherworldly, and in this song they actually approximate on guitar the sound of a lightning strike.  Amazing approach.

Here’s the song: The Unknown Guest – Cynic (2008)

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2012 in Inspiration, Ire, Music, Nature

 

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