By Dr. Abner Mality

In the halcyon days of my ill-spent youth, I was quite a fan of Kansas. The band, not the state or university. The way they integrated the sweet tones of a violin into hard rock and progressive music was something special that’s never been equaled.  There are times when Canadian prog band Cydemind comes close to the brilliance of Kansas but it’s sporadic at best.

This is an instrumental band hailing from Quebec that very much emphasizes the violin in its music. Oliver Allard is very adept at this instrument and yes, his melodic and quick-fingered approach does remind me a lot of what Robbie Steinhardt did with Kansas. The violin is really a substitute for the human voice with Cydemind and on the shorter, punchier tunes, it succeeds brilliantly. It’s only when the band succumbs to “prog bloat” and starts playing huge epics that the violin gets swallowed up.
For the metal fan, there’s some solid guitar crunch here where Cydemind is reminiscent of Dream Theater. Keyboardist Camille Delage gets a chance to sign with some beautiful classical piano work as well as some sizzling synth solos. Songs like “What Remains”, “Tree of Tales” and “Red Tides” are very enjoyable listening if you like prog and prog metal. But when Cydemind turns to lengthy tunes like “Derecho” and the monstrous 27 minute plus title track, they get lost in that sort of out of control pomposity that led to the downfall of prog. I mean, 27 minutes??? That song just becomes a tedious exposition of aimless instrumental wandering. After 10 minutes I was crying out to hear a human voice. And that’s the failing of most instrumental bands.

I love the sound these guys create on the more focused songs and urge them to continue in that area. 27 minute masturbatory piddling is only for the nerdiest of prog heads.