One of the key reasons a number of us writers remain in a game that’s bloated to obesity with enough metal blogs to choke nearly every horse currently galloping this green Earth is because every now and again, sprinkled sporadically amidst an unfathomable amount of new acts competing for any sort of coverage, there lands a moderately unheralded band with a new release that lands one right to the jaw. These sorts of moments serve as a stark reminder not only of how good it feels to plow into a relatively overlooked gem, but also the enjoyment that results from helping to spread the good word to like-minded individuals.
Ladies and gentlemen, please say hello to Calgary, Alberta’s Viathyn.
Viathyn, these are the ladies and gentlemen.
Let’s get to know one another.
First and foremost, a tip of my hat to Adrien Begrand (Decibel, Terrorizer, Iron Fist, Popmatters, Hellbound.ca) for initially pointing a deserved spotlight on this release recently via his twitter page. You oughta might want to follow him – he’s a good friend to heavy metal: @basementgalaxy
Secondly, if you can’t get enough of the impressive power and progressive/power releases that have cropped up in 2014 (for those who missed it: We Have the Power 1 and WHTP 2), you might just want to jump ahead and throw your money at these guys right now so you can get to the business of feeling triumphant as balls: Viathyn Bandcamp
What Viathyn does right in terms of Cynosure’s appeal to NON-power metal enthusiasts: They deliver an immensely rewarding record that’s packed to the rafters with a darker, more aggressive approach to the style that, well, isn’t really power metal, at least not in the bouncy, lighthearted European sense.
What Viathyn does right in terms of Cynosure’s appeal to power metal enthusiasts: They deliver an immensely rewarding record that teeters to the point of toppling with stacks and stacks of vigorously melodic play that’s further bullet-proofed by imaginatively woven fictional, non-fictional and mythological lyrics that, well, would probably be considered power metal to some, at least in the stout, combative North American sense.
Regardless of which bloody box you wish to cram them into, the bottom line is this: Cynosure provides the sort of (prevailingly progressive) heavy metal that’s ideally suited for anyone who pitches serious tent for a galloping attack further reinforced by strong clean vocals and enough dueling melodic lead guitar to make Andy LaRocque’s coif spin like a top for a solid week.
Once you pass the keyboard-dominated launch to opener “Ageless Stranger” – Note: keys play an active role on this record, but they remain mostly relegated to the backdrop to add atmosphere – the spurs hit the flanks and you’re off and running. What helps to broaden the record’s footprint, however, is the fact that the band prove themselves particularly adept at seamlessly shifting gears and fusing hints of other sub-genres into the blueprint’s corners to help give Cynosure added legs. “Time Will Take Us All,” “Albedo” and the outstanding “The Coachman” mingle with some death metal barks; a strong Celtic edge to “Three Sheets to the Wind” nails home the band’s most conclusive kinship: Denmark’s Wuthering Heights; all the pretty mellow flourishes throughout the infectious “Edward Mordrake” (google that sumbitch and tell me that’s not a fascinating topic to cover in heavy metal); as well as the knotty classical fretwork at the heart of “Shadows in our Wake.”
If there’s any element worth picking at, it’s the fact that Cynosure stretches the limit in terms of length. 65 minutes is a lot to take in during one sitting, particularly when essentially every song follows a similar path of flashing the full wealth of the record’s elements. Still, one can’t help but feel that Viathyn’s chief intention here is to shed album #1’s skin and make an emphatic and dramatic landing with every tune on album #2, and Cynosure definitely does the job of hitting the Earth like fiery meteor.
If galloping, infectious and epic progressive metal is the type of thing that typically blows your hair back and this sucker doesn’t get you up and running, you might want to check to make sure those icy veins haven’t swapped out the ol’ hemoglobin for 5 liters of Golden Corral country gravy. Cynosure represents yet another feather in the cap of 2014’s already impressive collection of winning power and prog/power releases.
Pleasure to meet you, Viathyn. Here’s to a long and fruitful friendship.