Released By: Self-released
Release Date: Out Now!!!
Genre: Progressive Power Metal
Tomislav Crnkovic – Vocals, Guitars
Jacob Wright – Guitars
Alex Kot – Bass
Dave Crnkovic – Drums
Shadows in Our Wake
Countess of Discordia
Time Will Take Us All
Three Sheets to the Wind
As a power metal fan from Canada where the genre isn’t exactly the most common, I always get extremely excited whenever I hear a power metal band from my country that blows me away. One of the bands that impressed me the most in recent years was Calgary’s Viathyn, with their epic debut The Peregrine Way, which offered up a seamless blend of power metal elements, prog elements, folk elements and symphonic elements, all topped off with some incredible guitar work and amazing melodies all around. While the album wasn’t quite perfect, it was certainly one of the best metal albums I have ever heard from a Canadian band, so as soon as I heard the band had a new album coming, I started going crazy with anticipation. My excitement has only increased now that the album has been released, because four years after their exceptional debut, Viathyn has upped their game further with Cynosure, and have created quite possibly my all time favorite metal album by a Canadian artist.
Compared to their debut, Cynosure is a darker, heavier and more progressive album, while still featuring an abundance of all the elements I loved from before. While the guitar work is generally more aggressive this time, the band still delivers some of the best melodies I’ve heard in any genre, including on some of the best Euro power metal albums I’ve heard. In fact, the leads performed by lead guitarist Jacob Wright are absolutely phenomenal and (along with the supporting guitar work from singer Tomislav Crnkovic) easily stand out as the biggest highlight of what is an incredible album all around. This album has everything, from the type of speedy instrumental work you’d expect on a power metal album, to some great acoustic sections, constant tempo changes with a focus on progressive structures on almost every song, and even some excellent neo-classical guitar work, but done in the literal sense as opposed to that overly wanky stuff you’d normally see labelled as neoclassical (for example, “The Coachman” has an instantly recognizable excerpt taken from Edvard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King”).
There were only a couple areas where I thought The Peregrine Way was slightly lacking, and both of those areas have been greatly improved upon this time around. Firstly, the production was a little bit muffled on the debut, where on Cynosure all instruments come through with crystal clarity, and everything sounds very powerful. Secondly, while I liked Tomislav before, I thought he sounded a bit weak at points, but this time around he sounds excellent on every song. He has a much lower than normal register compared to the typical power metal singer, and he has a very smooth voice which allows the melodies to flow perfectly. Of course, he can get intense and fiery in quick bursts, and he pulls this off just as well as he does his calmer vocals. Harsh vocals are also used on occasion and they sound quite good, though they serve more as a brief change of pace and never stick around for more than a few seconds at a time.
Every song on Cynosure is amazing, and the entire album flows perfectly in a way very few power metal albums do. With that being said, there are some truly spectacular standout moments throughout the album. The opening track “Ageless Stranger” is awesome enough up until the end, with an epic opening, followed by mostly fast paced instrumental work, and an excellent chorus. Then the final vocal line hits and it’s easily the most epic part of the whole song. Up next is “The Coachman”, which is probably my favorite song on the album. It’s mostly a mid-tempo song fuelled by some very powerful riffs and an outstanding chorus, but the highlight is definitely the middle section where it suddenly speeds up, leading to the most memorable use of harsh vocals on the album, along with that particular excerpt I mentioned earlier in the review. While the following track “Edward Mordrake” is the only song which doesn’t have any huge standout moments, it’s still an excellent song overall. “Shadows in Our Wake” and “Countess of Discordia” both start out as faster, seemingly straight-forward songs, before completely transforming in the second half. The former slows down with one of the calmest and nicest sounding instrumental sections on the album, while the latter delivers some wonderful melodies and another truly outstanding late song vocal section.
Things calm down a little bit at the start of “Time Will Take us All”, which features a really awesome extended acoustic section along with a very mellow vocal part, before the song completely explodes in the second half, and Tomislav delivers his best chants of defiance, in what is yet another incredible late song vocal section. Next is the much happier sounding “Three Sheets to the Wind”, which is highlighted by some folk melodies in the guitars, along with an excellent middle section where the folk elements take center stage. It’s also probably the fastest song on the album, and has one of the most addictive choruses. Comparatively, “Albedo” is one of the darkest songs on the album, and opens with an instrumental section that is both haunting and stunningly beautiful at the same time, while the rest of the track is a very grim but awesome mid-tempo song. Last, but not least, is the epic length title track, which illustrates the bands ability to transition seamlessly from one section into another. And yes, it does in fact deliver strongly at the end, just like almost every other song on the album.
For Viathyn fans, the long wait in between albums was certainly worth it, as Cynosure takes everything that was great about The Peregrine Way, while taking the prog albums further and improves on the debut in every possible way. I hope this albums gets these Canadians more attention, because they certainly deserve it. Highly recommended for all power metal fans, and especially those who enjoy complex arrangements and excellent guitar work to go along with their epic vocal melodies.
Written by Travis