Review by Rick “The Fish-Man” Ossian
Let us say for just a moment that you happen to be a Prog Metal fan. Not only that, but a prog metal fan that happens to REALLY like Classical music, and the violin in particular. If that is the case in your musical world, then look no further for your next musical adventure. You have struck gold, found the Holy Grail, use whatever comparison you prefer and enter here. Cydemind are the find of the month, hell maybe even the year.
Hailing from Montreal, these fellows have an EP to their credit already, titled Through Mists and Ages. This LP is their first full-length, and features instrumental metal, heavy on the violin and the piano. On board for your listening pleasure are the players: Olivier Allard on violin, Camille Delage on keys, Kevin Paquet on guitars, Nico Damoulianos on bass and Alexandre Dagenais on drums. Together they form a seriously tightly knit unit, and the jams speak for themselves!
Derecho is first up, and it is a longer one, damn near 14 minutes all told. It begins beguilingly enough with strumming guitar, then violin, then piano. It is all seemless and beautifully woven together. It is, at times, more like jazz/rock fusion, but there are more often moments when things get very metallic. If I was going to draw comparisons, I would no doubt begin with Kansas, but more likely I would go with someone like John McLaughlin’s band Mahavishnu Orchestra. Only heavier…
Next on board is the title track, almost a half an hour in length, and the single longest number for these recordings. Now, granted, 30 minutes is a long time to sit and listen to ONE song. However, I sat through it and I don’t recall being bored once. There is, of course, a beautiful piano intro, but it doesn’t take long for the real jams to kick in. There is a musical journey awaiting us here, and there is lots of heavy rock/metal on this track!
As one might imagine, a half-hour track must have lots of movements in it, right? Right as rain, my readers. At 3:45 we hear some nice piano plus rhythm, and there is a lovely synth jam at five minutes in with the violin to accompany it. At eight minutes in there is another violin, guitar and keyboard jam, giving way to peaceful, even restful piano at about nine-and-a-half. Then there are some waves on the beach FX, so don’t fall asleep yet! There are duels a-plenty to come; violin and drums, piano, heavy chords and riffing with some violin on the side. There is some extremely tasty piano and violin playing here, as one might have begun to expect at this point. Fourteen minutes in, we find more jamming. There are virtuosos at work here, folks. The interplay even during the relatively quiet passages is just fucking brilliant.
Well, I could sit here all day and tell you about the lovely half-hour jam here, but with all of the upshifts and downshifts in tempo, soloing, jamming together, it is more of a listening experience than I can recall having in quite some time. So, moving right along…
Track Number Three is Red Tide. It begins life with an atmospheric FX intro, followed by more instrumental metal with violin. The piano work is, again, exquisite, and there are plenty of drums and guitars to make one keep their ears tuned. Nice jam at the end as well
Stream Capture is much the same as the aforementioned tracks, but is slightly mellower than the others. There is a nice acoustic fingerpicking intro which gives way to some more beautiful piano work. The drums and the piano plays big roles in this number. There is some nice shredding at the 3:20 mark.
Tree of Tales is heavier, again with a classical flavour. It starts with some nice riffing, and the violin is very lyrical and melodic. It takes the place of what would no doubt had been vocals had the group not had such a competent violin player. There is even some solo violin at the three-minute mark. Another big jam at the finish.
Today’s closer is also the shortest number on board. At a mere five minutes in length, What Remains reminds us that there are times when you can be mellow, but you need to leave your audience hammered with the last tune. Cydemind indeed accomplishes that and then some. Everybody gets a chance to shine on this one, and it is over far too quickly for these ears.
In short, if you are a fan of classical violin, jazz fusion, or prog metal, then this is definitely for you.