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Cynthesis - 'DeEvolution' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/original/ad/fd/e2/1421_cynthesisdeevolution_1310248238.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     July 09, 2011    
 
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A very pleasant surprise.

I must admit to feeling a sense of foreboding when this album by new progressive metal band Cynthesis came through my letterbox. Upon opening the booklet I recognised the names of twin brothers Jasun and Troy Tipton (guitar and bass respectively) from the band Zero Hour, whose last trio of albums certainly haven't been an easy listen and only give up their charms when you have more time to spend on them than I currently have. When I read the bio properly I found that Cynthesis singer Erik Rosvold was actually the vocalist on the three earlier Zero Hour albums that I haven't heard, and also that the drummer was none other than Enchant's Sean Flanagan. To be honest, Cynthesis are no easier to pigeonhole than Zero Hour, although thankfully their songs are a little more accessible.

There's still a goodly amount of ridiculously technical stuff going on from the Tipton's, in fact bassist Troy is particularly awesome throughout, but it's usually tempered by Sean Flanagan's tasteful drumming and some effective melodies, including some passages that are really simple and uncluttered. The only times they go over the top are on the angular rhythms of 'The Edifice Grin' (probably my least favourite track) and the high-speed guitar and bass flurries of 'Divided Day', although the latter is a schizophrenic song that also has slower parts and even a tasteful blues-based guitar solo amongst its many notable points. 'The Man Without Skin' is tuneful prog-metal with some startlingly good melodies and instrumentation, and 'Incision' starts off slowly with a synth led melody that eventually morphs into a bass-driven groove, with the guitar used sparingly to great effect.

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Unlike Zero Hour (sorry to keep harping on about this!) the songs here actually hit me about the second time around, and by the third or fourth I was looking forward to finding the time to play the album again, partly because of the things already mentioned but mostly for two other reasons. The first is that the production and mix by Jasun Tipton with Dino Arden is just immense, a huge warm sound with everything sharing equal space, and secondly because of Erik Rosvold. The vocals on this album are superb, no, make that exceptional! The guy is scarily good and it's amazing that he isn't a household name. If he has an agent then that guy should be taken out and shot because Erik should be fronting some massively successful band. Some of the other songs here show-off his rich and vibrant voice perfectly, like the atmospheric 'Shallow World' which is just keyboards and vocals, or the similarly gentle 'Twilight'. Erik can belt it out too and his performance on every song makes you sit up and take notice.

There are a couple of songs which start gently with just synth and vocals, or piano and vocals, and then all the other instruments come crashing in, but Erik cuts through just as cleanly no matter what he's singing over, the stunning 'Song Of Unrest' and 'Profit Of Disaster' both following a similar dramatic pattern, only for the former to end the album in the same sparse way that the song started. It's a masterclass in dynamics and the whole album was a very pleasant surprise. Now where are those early Zero Hour albums on eBay? I need another Erik Rosvald fix!

Phil Ashcroft

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