By Dr. Abner Mality

Some records are just nice to listen to...not blockbusters or revolutionary pieces of art, but something you can pop in the stereo and enjoy. Such a work is "Cynosure" from the Canadian power metallers Viathyn. If you have a liking for melodic power metal, this should hit the spot.

Not much in the vein of traditional European power metal coming out of North America anymore, but Viathyn have this style down pat. The band is compared to Wuthering Heights, Symphony X and Angra, amongst others, and I agree with those comparisons. One of the traits that makes them likable are the very pleasant vocal melodies of Tomislav Cmkokic. This guy has such an agreeable mid-range voice, it's like melted butter on your eardrums. And the vocal lines he comes up with on songs like "Edward Mordrake" and "Countess of Discordia" compliment those rich tones perfectly. There are no screams or shrieks here....just a few growls on "Albedo"...but Cmkovic's singing grows on you with repeated listenings.

The songs tend to be fairly long and complex, with lots of shredding neo-classical guitar solos from Jacob Wright. The riffs are fast, clean and tuneful, with a hint of Celtic influence on stuff like "Three Sheets To The Wind". On some tunes, especially the title track, Viathyn get too long-winded for their own good and slip into boredom. But on the whole, these songs are lively and sprightly and also extremely well produced. The lyrics also seem to be well done and entertaining.

Like all power metal, Viathyn falls prey to cliched predictability on occasion, but "Cynosure" is a friendly musical companion to spend some time with.