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Let's go back to apes... - 70%

ArnoldHablewitz, August 18th, 2013

Zero Hour was a flat-out awe-inspiring band. Their Watchtower-meets-Meshuggah brand of Aggressive Progressive was a brilliant take on a genre that otherwise sometimes confuses technical prowess or weird originality for downright good music. So when it was announced that a new band had formed a few years ago featuring the Tipton twins and original ZH vocalist Erik Rosvold, intrigue was very high. To be fair, that first album "DeEvolution," lived up to and even surpassed expectations by letting us know that this was more than just a Zero Hour offshoot and probably more like a reimagining of what the members were capable of.

First track "Divine Night," begins with something kind of, well...TYPICAL of the genre, which is not something we usually expect from this group of musicians. The Fates Warning-esque arpeggios eventually give way to the harmonized pentatonic lines and bass counterpoint that Troy and Jasun do better than anybody, but then it seems to abruptly cease. Somehow the first cut is just those two parts, leaving the listener wanting considerably more, and second cut convergence is a minute and a half instrumental that essentially just proves what us long-term fans already know, that being the amazing instrumental prowess of the brothers and they intensely sweep with reckless abandon, almost reminiscent of the Zero Hour days. Intense or not, it's not something that I find easy to latch onto, and that leaves the first 4 minutes of this second Cynthesis album kinda lacking of a strong start. When third track "The Grand Façade" comes in, this is when the disc finally begins to reflect the same wonderful songwriting that graced the first album. Even here though, the band is considerably reeled in, not really venturing into something downright heavy until about 5:51 into the tune. This is what I truly came for, an intense, palm-mute heavy part with wonderful storytelling vocals placed over. The heaviness returns at other times of the disc, such as 2:37 into "Persistence of Visions," where some almost Rush-style broken chords eventually give way to a sick 18/8 groove (yeah, I counted) followed by Tipton-patented 11/8 pentatonic jamming once again. Truthfully, this song seems to have the lion's share of the balls-out metallic power of this disc, and I could continue to wax eloquent about the different grooves and heavy riffs (WHOLE-NOTE power chords?!? That's a first for these guys) that permeate this standout cut that is only rivaled on this disc by similarly epic closing cut "Release the Deity."

One thing that Erik did so well that was never really replicated after his departure in Zero Hour was to convey so much emotion and dynamic range into the delivery of his lyrics, which in and of themselves were something rather touching and poetic; not "rockstar-/artist-poetic" either, but genuinely intelligent and literary. In Cynthesis, we find him with much more range and even greater control as he ventures into previously un-entered territory from time-to-time, like the squelched falsetto in "A Most Trivial Pursuit." His melody-writing is continuing down the epic/catchy path it has always been on, in this reviewer's opinion nowhere more present than on "Release the Deity." That opening vocal pattern is just sooooooo catchy, and he even dares to mess with the dynamics of that particular pattern the second time it comes around. It's so nice to hear him in such great form.

All this said, I feel like this disc never gets over the lack of momentum that the opening cuts had. I love this band and I love everything involving members of Zero Hour, but I just can't get over how much more interesting and ear-catching the first album was by comparison. This disc is far more atmospheric, with way more than it's fair share of arpeggiated lines, synth-string backgrounds, and just this nagging, ominous feeling like something is about to happen...and then doesn't. I won't say it never does, because the crescendos are there, but at the moments where you'd really like for there to be one, that's where they aren't. Zero Hour was a damn heavy band. The first Cynthesis was a downright cinematic affair, with ups, downs, journeys, and destinations. This album, at it's worst, is music you can have in the background while you're reading a book.

I'm holding hope for the next release. At least we know what the band is capable of.

Evolution Revolution - 81%

GuntherTheUndying, August 2nd, 2013

"ReEvolution" is pretty much identical to Cynthesis' first album, "DeEvolution," in nearly every regard—the similar titles should give that away. The group's first opus, which reunited three-fourths of the classic Zero Hour lineup, was an amazing piece of cinematic, otherworldly progressive rock/metal that frequently dipped into soft interludes and ambient landscapes while basing itself lyrically on a society‘s plummet into totalitarianism. It would‘ve made George Orwell cream his jeans, just a trifle. Throughout "ReEvolution," released two years after its predecessor, Cynthesis continues to tell its conceptual story of big governments and all that fun stuff while boasting driving riffs, powerful vocals, consistent percussion, eccentric bass work, dazzling guitar leads, and lush ambient scenery. Unfortunately not as compelling as “DeEvolution” despite it sticking to the if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it mentality, but that really doesn’t hinder the album’s enjoyable quality.

Then again, Erik Rosvold, Sean Flanegan, and the Tipton twins had made such an engrossing effort throughout "DeEvolution" that topping it would've proved very difficult, and calling this a lesser work isn't met with hostility. In fact, Jasun and Troy Tipton still ravage through the gripping patterns with their trademark idiosyncrasies at hand—those being the electric solos of Jasun and Troy's spastic, algorithmic bass lines often doing whatever the hell they want. Flanegan's role is consistently less integral to the whole picture due to the band's tendency to include incredibly simple patterns and musical sequences which lack drums altogether, but his presence is satisfactory nevertheless. Rosvold delivers yet another magical performance, showing once more that his vocals are in prime form when rising against musical platforms both heavy and atmospheric. Overall, very close to "DeEvolution" in shape, size, and scope.

It's sort of an odd album compared to "DeEvolution," however, because the song lengths are grossly unlike those which appeared on the original Cynthesis offering. "Divine Night" and the instrumental progressive lashing of "Convergence" fail to break the three-minute mark, and "A Most Trivial Pursuit," although not too shabby, is barely able to do so; they stick out as being underdeveloped and fundamentally useless. Consequently, the remaining four songs occupy a grand majority of the record's running time, and are, predictably, far superior to the other tracks. The longer anthems give Cynthesis the ability to fully channel their creative energies into one entity, whereas "Divine Night" and company merely show one number of a multi-sided die without expanding the total picture. That said, the fine tracks are very fine indeed: "The Grand Facade" is very nicely done, and "Persistence of Visions" explodes wonderfully when the intensity picks up.

I like how "ReEvolution" ends; transitioning from the calm, atmospheric "The Noble Lie" to the thirteen-minute crusade within "Release the Deity," which is probably the best cut here, and it's quite amazing witnessing this lineup master an epic of progressive power, just like old times. Rosvold sounds really, really fantastic as the record progresses, and his performances continue to get better and better with each and every anthem. Overall, “ReEvolution” has its head in the right place, and it’s definitely something not to squander if you enjoyed “DeEvolution.” Shame that it isn’t as hot as the first Cynthesis record, but how many sequels are worthwhile in general? Moving from excellent territory to the lands of the admirable isn’t bad in my book.

This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com