“Cynical Silence” is the sophomore album by the Progressive Metal project between musician / producer Bob Katsionis and singer / lyricist Billy Vass, based in Athens, Greece.
The project’s debut release “Ethical Dilemma” was in my opinion one of last year’s most inspired Prog Metal releases mainly influenced by the 90s FATES WARNING realm.
Well I still can refer to the touch of the fate’s hand as a serious incident taking place on this new album, however I must point that I was surprised enough to discover that there is a wider range of influences, sounds and delights, wisely placed on this new release: A release that highlights a different -still very familiar- face of artistic expression.
Let me first put it straight, simple and clear that the songwriting is the key factor on “Cynical Silence”. Talent and inspiration have been transferred to a very specific artistic vision that highlights every single detail on each and every composition in this release. The final result is justifying both creators and listeners: Nine brilliant songs. Do not search for any kind of fillers in this one.
The new material is widely influenced by various Progressive Rock and Metal genres. However all the influences are perfectly balanced within the songs that are blessed by a remarkable originality. Back on the debut days it was an easy task for me to refer to an album that offers this shining kind of Prog Metal that the big bands of the 90s do not deliver anymore. Something like an artistic time traveling drug. Well on the second album I can clearly face a project band that is building a major personal sound, cleverly attaching any kind of influence to a great original sonic puzzle.
The Neoprog movement of the 80s is a serious influence and source of inspiration for the new material: The “Invisible Thread” song is one of the greatest compositions that I have heard recently and it totally reflects the Neoprog genre: PENDRAGON, IQ, PALLAS, MARILLION (Fish era) and Canadian MYSTERY can be mentioned as serious influences not only on this particular song but on the overall album. The main Neoprog core -in both terms of melody and orchestration-, is presented in key parts on the compositions of “Cynical Silence”. Excellent new feature.
Selected key references to the golden 90s Prog Metal era are also included in here. The FATES WARING (“Parallels” era) and QUEENSRYCHE (“Empire” era) spirit is still here -like on the debut- but I was happy enough to discover many influences from the first two PAIN OF SALVATION albums, with a serious touch of CONCEPTION and DREAM THEATER (“Images and Words” era) in the mix. And if you listen more carefully you can even discover some of the LEPROUS delightful magic on the universe of this album, well for sure this is a serious connection to the Prog music of today.
Beyond the album’s influences there is a variety of elements that make “Cynical Silence” a top class original record. The starting point of a specific and recognizable sound that can be described as the “VASS / KATSIONIS sound”. Can you mention lots of band’s able to do that from their second album? I can’t.
First of all the overall songs sound darker compared to the songs of the debut. Dark shades that have been turned to magnificent musical themes like the ones found on the “End of Innocence” opener, or on the “Cynical Silence” title track. Reflecting shadows that have been turned to piano melodies like the ones on the “Day Without Loss” masterpiece.
Secondly I must point that Billy Vass has composed some incredibly great vocal melodies for this album. Melodies that open secret gates, to stranger worlds, turning each and every song to a wonderful piece of art. The vocal melodies are often working as the starting point on the songs of this release. Thankfully Bob Katsionis generously offered some wonderful, riffs, keyboard melodies and solos in order for a beautiful musical result to be completed. Song by song.
I must also refer to the overall vocal performance in here. No Billy Vass does not sing. He is offering his soul on a process of catharsis through each and every lyric. And yes I got to point this: Study the lyrics of this album. I advice you.
Mentioning the lyrics I must point that he album’s artwork was created using the latest development in Artificial Intelligence technology: The band imported the entire album’s lyrical content into the OpenGPT chatbot, providing them with the proper prompt to use on Midjourney. The result was an image that resembles 100% the lyrical and musical concept of “Cynical Silence”.
All the above features are shaping a huge musical puzzle. The listener is welcome to discover all of its pieces, one by one. And this is a magnificent journey.
Each and every time you would listen to the album / make the above mentioned journey again, you would discover more treasures. Like -for example- the connections with the debut album: The riff behind the “Cynical Silence” solo part which is a twin brother of the “Purify” song main theme. Or the piano epilogue on the “My Island is Home” final song that represents the main theme of “Message to the Masses” opener song of the debut album, like a circle, from start to finish and back again…
I will close this review pointing that “Cynical Silence” is a wonderful album that includes music from the heart and soul. A deep, emotional, enigmatic and dark piece of strange and beautiful art. Check this stuff out no matter your musical tastes. You will not regret it.
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