16 July 2016

Cyrax - Pictures

I would like to start this album with an apology to Cyrax; I cannot remember when, but in February we received a submission request to review this album.  This was handed to one of our previous blogger’s who has subsequently left, I forgot I had asked said person to review this and it sort of feel through the cracks; so first off – sorry Cyrax, but thanks to the re-prompt it has brought to light a few other albums which I will be rattling through.  Anyway, this is supposed to be a review and to complete that we need a little bit of background about Cyrax.  Cyrax come from Milan in Italy, from the press release it is shown that this is their second album after the 2013 release ‘Reflections’.  Recorded in 2014 and released in 2015, this album has received some good press and the band are one that I had been recommended before we received the email.  So (belatedly), how does the album sound……

Starting the album is “Cyrax”, it starts with a heavy synth sound, that is soon joined by a heavy groove metal and some vocals which cross between glam, growling and Judas Priest air sirens.  It is a curious mixture of styles going on here, with a definitive progressive leaning that is also has that heavier tone to the guitars that works in places and at times it jars it slightly.  That said, the solo is spot on and one of the best sections of the song.  The second song “The 7th Seal” starts with an acoustic strumming that reminds me of Jeff Wayne’s “The War of the Worlds”, which is then dropped straight into another hybrid prog/classic metal combo.  The way the styles are swapped is smoother than caramel over an apple, but it is still strange to these ears in a way the Ephel Duath confused and assaulted audiences over the years, but with 45% less lunacy – definitely a track that demand your attention.  “Cockroach” starts with a low rumbling and cymbals, sounding like insects moving and then the guitar hits and this time we are on a Strapping Young Lad/Devin Townsend style trip, it is a strange and curious song that does improve with subsequent listens, showcasing (as all these songs so far have) the talent in the band which is mixed with the off the wall style that seems to be the underlying current of their style.  “These Green Valleys” changes styles once again, this time aiming for Nightwish with operatic vocals, a folk strings and the acoustic guitars are in heavy use, together with the ever present synths.  It is not a style which I particularly enjoy, but this song is played very well and would be a song I would recommend to a fan of the genre.  “Oedipus Rex” returns to the heavier side of the band’s discography, with the vocals styles being mixed between the operatic and the growling styles, with the progressive styles being allowed to fly and the manic elements of their sound reaching higher heights that on other songs. 

“Shine Through Darkness (pt.1)” is the first of three parts and is the longer of the three sections; it is a mad song, changing styles quicker than a pop star changes costumes during one of their concerts.  It is the vocals sound a little strange, but it matches the constantly changing song and it is always within keeping with the style of music that is being played at that particular time.  It is another well played, albeit confused number that asked more questions than it really answers. “Shine Through Darkness (pt.2)” also continues the pattern, from barque synth sounds, to loud guitar, to strings and so on and so forth.  But why is it not just one long song?  It is also much the same feeling with “Shine Through Darkness (pt.3)”, a mixture of styles that are underpinned by the band’s constantly changing style and it makes for a great swirling style, but why not on one glorious sixteen-minute epic?  It is just my own personal thoughts and it does not take away from the fact that each of these tunes are musically sound and the end result is well received, but the breaks in the overall journey of the song take something away from it.  “Phunkrax” ends the album with an instrumental song that showcases each instrument throughout the song and comes across like a combination of Dream Theatre and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, it is a good instrumental which seems to end a little too soon once again.

What we have here is a very talented band who have so many genres and styles going on in their collective heads that the album tries to cover so many bases at once that it at times it almost seems a little too unfocused and over stretching.  But that is one of the appeals of Progressive Metal/Rock, the fact it does reach for the moon and even if it does quite get there, it can still be an interesting journey.  The production on this album is one of the best I have heard, it complements the band a lot and each instrument and vocalist gets their own times to shine.  I do think that “Shine Through Darkness” would have made an amazing sixteen-minute epic, but again that is just my own personal thing and whilst the album is not one that has settled well in my mind’s eye, it is one that is making me think a lot and that is usually a good sign that I will end up loving it in about ten months’ time.  It feels like a very compact album, something of a genius project that is going to lead onto something that will floor a lot of people as there is something unique about them that stands them apart from a lot of other Progressive bands out there. With this being album number two, the third one should be really striking.  Definitely an act that warrant investigating and one that gives a promise of things to come as well.

7 out of ten – This is good and worth checking out

Top track – The 7th Seal

You can purchase Pictures on Amazon here

You can visit the Cyrax website here

You can follow the activities of Cyrax on Facebook here 

You can stream Pictures on Spotify here 

You can stream Pictures on Deezer here 

You can stream Pictures on Tidal here 

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