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by David King on April 9, 2014



On their last EP, Carbon Based Anatomy, Cynic unveiled their full transformation from early-’90s progressive death-metal band enamored with growling and deft riffing to a quirky prog band with finesses of jazz and glam rock. Carbon Based Anatomy was an ethereal stunner: a cross between T.Rex, Mars Volta and My Bloody Valentine. It was critically praised, but a good portion of the metal community hoped it was simply a one-off, that perhaps the six tracks were just a dalliance in with a warmer sound and that lead singer Paul Masvidal would return to his death growls and bring back a more power-hungry version of the band. Kindly Bent to Free Us is Masvidal’s declaration that there is no turning back. Like some sort of alien-obsessed acid trip, Kindly Bent to Free Us contains the jazz and glam flourishes that defined Carbon Based Anatomy but, as a whole, the album abandons the warm, almost life-affirming, anthemic choruses of the previous effort and finds a place in darkness. A sense of glumness and worry consumes the disc. Masvidal sings lyrics that sound like they were assembled with David Bowie’s cut-and-paste style that make allusions to aliens and their disappointment with the human race. “True Hallucination Speak,” “The Lions Roar” and “Kindly Bent to Free Us” are the kind of glam alien anthems that dominate Cynic’s new sound, but it is tracks like “Infinite Shapes” and “Gitanjalii” that meld the band’s experimental side with their matured songwriting. Kindly Bent to Free Us isn’t as strikingly sublime as some of the band’s past catalog, but it offers a solid view into where the adventuresome band is headed.