Cynic’s True Hallucination tour stops through Vancouver
I have mentioned before how I feel like my city Vancouver needs more prog shows. My fellow writers in London get a fair amount of good prog, and in September will get a ridiculous Leprous/Haken tour, but it seems that Vancouver has been good to the prog gods lately, as we were gifted with an appearance from the might jazz prog metal legends Cynic. With openers from the local scene as well as Lesser Key, it promised to be an excellent show, so on a sunny Sunday in July, I headed downtown to catch what might have been the most anticipated show in the last few months.
I’d never been to the Imperial venue before, but first impressions of it were really good. The lighting was a little too dim, which also made it difficult for ourf photographer to take good photos, but the overall atmosphere of the place was really nice. It had a combination of classy and fancy with the grittier charm that graced the other venues in that area of town (the Downtown East Side of Vancouver is the worst neighbourhood in Canada).
OmnisighT are a local band, whose latest EP Wave Particle I reviewed a while back. They play a combination of progressive metal, 80s shred, and groove-tastic rock and roll. I spoke to their drummer and one of the guitarists before their show, and they were clearly super stoked to be opening for Cynic, and they promised to deliver their best set ever – and holy fucking shit, did they ever deliver. The band boasts a guitar duo both capable of playing scorching lead shred solos, and delivering huge rocking riffs. Bassist Dave is locked in with his rhythms, and drummer Chris might be one of the best in the city. Omnigisht’s half-hour set included the hard-rocking “Wave Particle”, the dizzying Dream Theater-esque instrumental “Heavy Weather”, and crowd-favourite “Eleven” for a closer.
By the end, the crowd was seriously into the music, calling out for more shred-laden progressive hard rock. They are an absolute joy to see. Their music is currently available on Bandcamp, and the Wave Particle EP is even free to download, so you have no excuse to not go listen. OmnisigTt also had the best lighting, so they ended up with the best pictures.
Astrakhan are another local band. I had no prior context of them, but they turned out to be a sort of sludgy progressive doom metal kind of thing. There were a couple sound issues during their set – specifically the vocals being inaudible for the first song – but these were fixed fairly speedily. They had some cool ideas, and definitely had some stage presence, but their set wasn’t all that engaging.
That being said, they were shafted by only having a twenty minutes set, which meant they only played about three songs. Even if I didn’t find them that interesting, I imagine that might have changed with a longer set, so I will definitely keep an eye on this band – perhaps they can develop their sound over the next little while.
Featuring former Tool bassist Paul D’Amour, Lesser Key were another band I had not listened to at all coming in to tonight. I am not the biggest fan of Tool, so I didn’t really expect to like this that much either. After a few technical difficulties with the guitar effects board, which resulted in the first song being played entirely guitar free, the band seemed a bit rattled. They are professionals, however, and managed to find their groove again.
Ultimately, their music did not really stand out too much, but I can certainly respect their ability. Their songs varied between lighter and slower, and heavier proggy rock, the latter of which I found more interesting. They were talented enough, but not the kind of thing I really enjoyed. Others enjoyed them more than I did, and I am sure fans of Tool would love it, but it was not for me.
And finally, we arrived at the stars of the show, the mighty Floridians Cynic. The anticipation was building, and the crowd was getting excited, to the point where one friend got full on slapped in the face for no reason by one of his acquaintances.
It was quite an amazing sight, really. Cynic arrived on the scene, opening with “True Hallucination Speak” from their newest album Kindly Bent To Free Us. From there, they moved through an utterly jaw-dropping show, full of superb technical ability and masterful songwriting. Cynic’s set consisted of songs from pretty much every release, including a stirring performance of “Integral” from Re-Traced, the EP that contained acoustic versions of tracks from Traced In Air.
More akin to a progressive rock/jazz show than a metal show, Cynic were truly unbelievable. I had a spot right in front of Paul Masdival who was phenomenal despite having a “thrashed throat”. His voice was beautiful in songs like “The Lion’s Roar” “Evolutionary Sleeper” and “Veil of Maya”. Bassist Sean Malone broke out the Chapman Stick a couple times to the pleasure of all, and drummer Sean Reinert proved why he is such a legend.
All too soon it was time for the wrap-up, and Paul and the gang bid us farewell with a breath-taking rendition of “Kindly Bent To Free Us”, perhaps the perfect closing song.
After the show, the band hung around and I was able to get a picture with Paul as well as an autograph. Cynic were truly one of the absolute best shows of this year, and I would love to get another chance to see them live.
I have to say that this was one of the finest shows of the year. Cynic were a band that I could have watched all night long and not grown bored, and Omnisight rocked extra hard.
Photos by Sebastien Mantle