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Red Cain > Kindred: Act I > Reviews
Red Cain - Kindred: Act I

The Red Halo - 48%

BastardHead, March 22nd, 2019

I'm gonna get one thing out of the way right now, because it's going to pretty much cement your own opinion of this album before you hear it and it's going to help you decide whether or not to take me seriously at all.

I don't like Kamelot. Like, at all. I'll admit that maybe I just haven't heard enough of their stuff because from what I understand they've shifted styles a few times, but their breakout album, The Black Halo, just does absolutely fucking nothing for me. I hate the dull, chuggy, lethargic pace of 80% of the album, I don't like how it feels so much longer than it is, I don't like how it feels so pompous and full of itself while delivering at best half of what it's promising, it's just not for me. But really, and this is going to sound like low level trolling, I know, but I just don't like Roy Khan on it. Really, I understand that he has an excellent voice, with a pristine timbre and some astounding control of how he crafts his melodies, but he has so little power and command in his voice that he reminds me of Joacim Cans yeah I went there. He always sounds like he's cooing, like his eyes are closed and he's just gently rocking a child to sleep no matter how bombastic, dark, aggressive, moody, sorrowful, or uplifting the music itself is. He's always this non-threatening presence that leaves me completely cold. Maybe I just want him to be something he's not, but I just can not handle hearing a metal band, no matter what mood they're going for, bending around a frontman so fucking soft and gentle.

So with that out of the way, I think you can probably already guess what I think about Red Cain's debut, Kindred: Act I. Evgeniy Zayarny has a bit more versatile voice than Khan, because he dips down into a more gruff bark every now and again on tracks like "Juliet", but for the most part Khan is a hugely obvious influence, and it winds up creating the exact same problem. Red Cain follows a similar template to The Black Halo with it being symphonic prog/power metal that only picks up the pace in a few places, but they're definitely not afraid to throw in some more pronounced heaviness on occasion, with an almost Nevermore styled low rapid fire chugging on tracks like "Snakebouquet" or "Wing of the Crow". Some tracks also reach back to some more traditional power metal influence, as can be seen on "All Is Violence" and what is far and away the best track, "Midnight Sarabande". The vocals are better than the chief influence because even though he does fall into the trap of sounding pretty harmless and doofy most of the time, he does at least understand the moods that the songs call for and adjusts his technique accordingly.

But really, Kindred doesn't hinge entirely on him. With this being prog metal first and foremost, the music itself is obviously the crux of the experience, and the music is... well I've heard worse. It obviously aims for a very high-minded atmosphere and it connects on occasion, but for the most part it winds up sounding like background fluff. This isn't helped by the fact that the album starts off with two of the best songs and then falls off sharply until the end. "Snakebouquet" is an excellent example of how to make this style interesting, with pummeling chugs being overlaid with heavenly guitar/synth melodies reminiscent of one of the more evocative melodeath bands from the genre's heyday, with a weird, glitchy breakdown leading into a soaring double time out-chorus. It keeps the six minute runtime exciting and I genuinely think this is a great song. "Midnight Sarabande" is even better, being the most overtly power metal track on display with the least amount of groove and most driving double bass. Oddly enough, this is also probably the track where his voice is creating the greatest distancing effect from the music by being as soft as it is, but the fact that it's not a particularly dark song makes it fit like a glove. It's a very uplifting, almost "heavenly" song for the most part, with only the bridge attempting anything more sinister, but it's so short lived and contrasted with the light triumph that it isn't intrusive or weird in any way. I love the way the lead guitar spends almost the entire time breaking from the rhythm and just lightly flittering above the music underneath, it really does manage to capture the atmosphere the band is going for here, and I also love every second of this one.

The problem arises when the rest of the album barely manages to sniff the beauty of the first two tracks. From "Zero" until the back half of "All Is Violence", nothing at all of interest happens. It turns into the exact type of slow chugprog that I just can't stand. Completely unengaging and dull, it's a good four track stretch of pure filler, with no engaging riffs or melodies or even a similar mood to the cosmic dissonance of mood that the first two tracks provided with their light melodies over heavier rhythms. Four filler tracks is a hell of an issue on an album that only contains seven. "Wing of the Crow" calls back to "Snakebouquet" a bit so it's a nice closer, but after twenty minutes of non-riffs and soft vocals with only a few decent spots scattered between several tracks, I just can't bring myself to get excited again. Like, "Zero" has an adrenaline pumping twenty seconds at the end but it takes six minutes to get there, and it's followed by "Blood and Gold", the shitty ballad whose name I have forgotten every single time I've run through this album.

There's a good album in here, hell I probably spent more time praising it than chastising it here, but that's mostly because the few good songs have so many good things in them that I can rave about them easily while the more plentiful bad songs are just so empty and uninteresting that I can't bring myself to care. I started this off with an aside about The Black Halo and Roy Khan specifically because that's really what this album reminds me of, and if you're in the majority that considers that album to be a modern classic then this'll likely be right up your alley. For me though? It has bright spots, it knows how to make certain ideas work magnificently, but Kindred flounders around a bit too much to really focus on those good aspects and craft the great album that I know Red Cain is capable of. I don't normally talk about a band's potential, but I can definitely sense it here, so I'll keep my ears open for the inevitable Act II for whatever story the band is crafting here, but if I'm being honest, they stumbled out of the gate on this one.

Originally written for Lair of the Bastard