Artist – The Kindred
Album – Life In Lucidity
Genre – Progressive metal
Rating – 8/10
The Kindred, formerly known as “Today I Caught the Plague”, are a Canadian progressive rock/metal band. Life in Lucidity is their 2014 sophomore record.
The first word that comes to mind when listening to The Kindred’s sophomore record, ‘Life in Lucidity’, is extreme. Everything, from the guitars to the drums and vocals, has a very hyperactive flavor to it. Even the brass passages on tracks such as the opener, ‘Wolvish’, feels so upbeat and chaotic at times. That is truly what makes Life in Lucidity such an interesting record, as there are many twists and turns that can pummel you straight into the ground. That is, if you truly have the patience for it. Mathy passages, shrill vocals, ominous synth leads, the aforementioned synth, and catchy yet simplistic drums, mixed with a heavy dose of progressive rock nuances, Life in Lucidity is quite the adventure.
Every element of Life in Lucidity, though possibly annoying at times, is relevant and matters to the music. The way to enjoy this album the most is to have a completely open mind and absolutely no expectations, lest you want to underrate this album by comparing it to every other progressive metal band releasing music today. Vocalist David Journeaux has a voice reminiscent of both Greg Puciato and perhaps Davey Havok at times, yet is still different from both of them. It is incredibly shrill and very seldom smooths itself out, as it is quite chaotic and very off-putting at first listen. It’s doesn’t necessarily grate on the ears, it’s just a flavor that the listener might not be accustomed to, even if they are used to higher-pitched vocalists. At first, it comes as a surprise but throughout the album the listener might actually grow to appreciate it, once they realize how much it contributes to not only the chaotic moments on the album, but even the softer passages or grandiose and operatic choruses in songs such as ‘Heritage’ and ‘An Evolution of Thought’.
As far as the instruments on this album there is a lot more accessibility, but can still be dizzying for the listener as they are caught up in a whirlwind of spastic, chaotic moments that lead right into either a gigantic chorus or a soft piano interlude. The greatest example of this is ‘Dreambender’, one of the highlights from the album. There is a point in the song where a very math-influenced riff is hovering above some very intense piano leads, and then the guitars are gone, leaving just a melancholic piano passage with some distorted choir-esque voices chanting over it and then David singing lightly over that. And then out of nowhere, the guitar comes back and then it’s full-speed yet again. Transitions like this could be quite annoying when done wrong, but The Kindred manage to pull these moments off very tastefully.
The guitars sound incredibly sharp, with a very nasty tone that can feel like a razorblade slicing your face in a very rapid combo attack. Even the slower moments on the instrumental track, ‘Millenia’, feel so sinister and abrasive, like a python preparing to strike. That edge gives this album, despite its hyperactive nature, a tender and magnetic feel. It traps the listener in, making him/her wonder, ‘Just where is this going to go next?’ Unfortunately, the presence of that question can be the album’s biggest flaw, as at times it doesn’t go somewhere as interesting as the listener may have anticipated.
Despite appearing fresh at first, this album can be a bitter pill to swallow as it doesn’t come off as cohesive as it tries to be. Tracks such as ‘Decades’ and ‘A Grand Debate’ feel so awkward and forced at times. Not only that, but they have a tendency to exhibit how predictable this album can be, as you begin to expect the direction the song is about to take whether it will be chaotic, soft, or large and overwhelming. This can be a tad tiring at times, because it is practically is the backbone of this record. Save for moments such as in ‘Like a Long Life’, when a piano and heart-rate monitor can be heard in a distant fashion explode into a brief solo, some of the transitions can make the listener scratch their head and wonder if The Kindred could have taken it in a completely off-kilter and surprising direction that would have heightened the quality and magic of the song.
The Kindred demonstrate a fresh take on progressive rock and metal, yet there are moments where Life in Lucidity falls flat. These moments can be quite obvious, although they don’t at all take away from the fantastic moments that this album has to offer, when the listener is willing to invest themselves in it. It truly is worth some exploration, as it shouldn’t be taken at face-value as just another progressive metal/math album with no substance when on the contrary, The Kindred offer quite a few interesting and entertaining tracks. It might be initially inaccessible, but the meat of the album justifies anything that may have seemed off-putting in the first place.
Review by Arden Collier