For me, the weakest aspect of most progressive metal is the vocals. While there are certainly exceptions—Russell Allen of Symphony X immediately comes to mid—I find most prog vocalists either overly–dramatic, horribly cheesy, or both. Seriously – Dream Theater would easily be one of my favorite bands if they got rid of James LaBrie and just played instrumentals…
I don’t know if Montreal’s Cydemind share my distaste for prog vocals, but they’ve skipped a lead singer in favor having a violin instead – and if you’re a regular reader of this site, you know just how big a sucker I am for violins in metal. In some ways, I feel like their freshman full-length Erosion was engineered just to hit my nerdy metal sweet spot thanks to its strong Dream Theater-meets-Ne Obliviscaris vibe. Everything a person could want in his or her progressive metal is contained within the album’s six tracks. Heavy, complex riffs? Check. Knotty, constantly-shifting time signatures? Check. Shreddy solos? Double check. Winding, non-linear song structures? Epic track lengths? Uplifting melodies? Check, check, and check. And then there’s that violin. It’s pretty clear from the first few notes that Olivier Allard has classical training, because he attacks his instrument like Yngwie Malmsteen with a bow.
As for highlights, pick any track and just hit play – the entire record is meticulously composed and performed with laser-like precision. I do think they’re at their best, though, when they really stretch out, so the two longest tracks on the record are probably my favorites. I particularly like the additional textures they add on the epics, like the acoustic guitar parts on the 13+ minute ‘Derecho” and the piano on the nearly 30-minute ‘Erosion.” In fact, I wish there had been more piano on the record, because my lone complaint with Erosion is that most of the keyboard tones border uncomfortably on the cheesy. They are of a piece, though, with what most other bands playing this style of music use, so it could just be me, but given how forward thinking Cydemind are in almost every other are on the album, I can’t help being a bit disappointed that they didn’t push the envelope a bit there, too.
Still, that’s a relatively minor complain with what’s otherwise a stellar album. Fans of progressive metal, power metal, or even neoclassical shred will find a lot to like here.
Erosion will be available on May 26 via Cydemind’s Bandcamp page.