[25th February 2014]
04. An Evolution of Thought
07. A Grand Debate
10. Like A Long Life
11. Cimmerian Dusk (Bonus Track)
Coming to prominence initially as Today I Caught The Plague, this Ontarian sextet took the bold step of changing the name of their band to something altogether snappier and more memorable in 2013. Releasing second album Life In Lucidity as The Kindred, the music confirms they are not afraid of bold statements.
Although the name has changed, the personnel have stayed pretty much the same – even if drummer Mike Ierandi has now left to join fellow Canadian progsters Protest The Hero.
With Sumerian Records behind them, the band have had greater resources to more fully realise the vision set out on debut album Lore. The Kindred’s angular prog-metal falls somewhere between a less techy Protest The Hero, a spikier Fair To Midland and some of Serj Tankian‘s less oddball solo work. Drawing from a very broad palette of sounds, Life In Lucidity is a big and bombastic affair.
Opening track “Wolvish” is a very clear statement of intent, showcasing in microcosm much of what the album has to offer compressed into exactly five minutes. Chances are that listening to this track alone will be a fairly reliable indicator of whether or not to proceed. If it doesn’t hook you in, there’s probably little point continuing.
After the most perfunctory of introductions, “Wolvish” jumps from a standing start to ‘enormous’ in a single bound, and stays there, with layer after layer on top of the jerky riffs. Strings? Check. Brass? Check. Choral backing vocals? Check. Listen closely enough, and there’s probably someone whaling on a kitchen sink in there somewhere.
Recorded in a single, five week marathon session, Life In Lucidity is truly epic in scope and ambition. But this, unfortunately, is the root of its undoing; too often these tracks feel as though they have been written with the explicit purpose of being epic, rather than just happening to turn out that way. The net result is that much of the album feels contrived.
Any dynamics are largely smoothed out through the addition of extra layers of sound, which firmly buries any potential hooks. The approach is so relentless that the album quickly becomes a very proggy form of white noise, and even after a dozen listens, no single track emerges as a stand-out moment.
This is a shame. The Kindred are clearly very talented musicians, but in their seemingly tunnel-visioned desire to create as big a sound has possible, they seem to have lost their way when it comes to memorable songwriting.
There is a certain grim irony in an album called Life In Lucidity being, at some level, confusing and unclear – and it is particularly disappointing to take the effort to strip away the layers and find the basic songs aren’t really up to scratch.
Life In Lucidity isn’t completely unlistenable, but it has ideas above its station that unfortunately creep from time to time into delusions of grandeur. Die-hard prog aficionados may well enjoy the histrionics, at least for a while – but there’s precious little to maintain interest in the longer-term, or hook in casual fans of the genre.