Cynthesis – DeEvolution – 3.5/5
“Fear not” the Zero Hour boys cry, “For we are not dead. We just lobotomised ourselves.” That is at least, strongly the impression I quickly get when going into this release, the new project from those Tipton brothers that formed the core of Zero Hour's success, pitting masterful bass lines against technical guitar shredding in a progressive effigy that turned them into the cult success they were, at least until their decision to postpone efforts after their phenomenal continuation of their success in “Dark Deceiver.” Often when such postponements occur, it's because they fear their creative juices have run dry, needing some new project to revive their interests rather than release a sub-par album. It's a noble decision and one that I'll often accept for the best as there's nothing worse than getting excited by your favourite bands latest offering only to discover it's not even good to wipe your ass with it. Sometimes they never return, wishing to pursue their new direction further, which is again a decision I can respect. What I don't quite understand is forming a new band with half the members and then trying to write, if not the exact same, then at least remarkably similar music with a new line-up and name.
All it does is feel as though they've taken a giant leap backwards, which has nothing to do with the abilities of the new members they've found; the vocalist is more than competent if not top of his league – a decent range and emotionally capability feels hampered by a lack of power and prominence in the final mix – and the drummer does everything that's asked of him (albeit adds little more to the proceedings), but even more than ever before it's evident that it is the guitars driving everything. They seem to feel some burden to perform and so often dominate the compositions, at times performing such feats of mindless and pointless technical wankery that I can't help but be reminded of Behold... the Arctopus (even if at its worst, never descends quite that far). The issue is less prominent on repeated listens, the more accustomed you become to the complex melodies, the easier it is to see past it and to the albums core intention. We get that you're good musicians, and you have no real need to prove to the people discovering this album – largely the Zero Hour fans – of your ability to make technical lines catchy, because surely the best musicians are confident enough that they never need to force feed these facts down the listeners throat.
In fact, it reminds me a little of my old drama classes and the old tell-tale sign of someone being nervous on stage, raffling off their lines too quickly hoping to impress the person doing the marking, and it isn't until they calm down a little in the albums second half that tracks begin to open up and develop at a more reasonable pace. Here is no different, and as the album continues the pacing improves, never displaying the all-or-nothing sense of aggression plaguing early tracks, fluctuating between repeating guitar lines until you become numb to them and suddenly going off on a technical tangeant. Slowing down to a more emotional peak they deliver on a quality reminiscent of Zero Hour's earlier successes in 'Tower of Avarice,' displaying a far more 'rock' quality that finally feels like a distinction worthy of a new band name; gentle chords and synths work together to provide an atmosphere of a dark Orwellian future, the chaos of the guitars tastefully interspersed into the brooding melodies to enrich the experience. There is some fantastic musicianship on display here, and I would expect nothing less of them, but compositionally it only feels a fraction of what they're capable of; it's too disjointed and inconsistent, failing to flow between the different tempo's to be considered much more than a shadow of what they could be.
Highlights: Profits of Disaster, The Edifice Grin, A Song of Unrest