the-cyon-project_tales-of-painWith only a demo and a couple of singles this Italian band gives us their full length debut and like many intelligent bands they do not rest on genre descriptions or indeed current trends but favour an approach that will test your senses, as music should. After the rather strange introduction of “Joe” a sombre keyboard driven piece of music that borders a classical approach and very film score like before the album is off and running with “Cheesy Song”, which of course it isn’t. Noticeably you’ll immediately think, nah heard it all before when the stoner rock tones start but as the album develops the songs take an identity of their own unafraid to retain an ear friendly approach that vocally has some similarities to Mr Hetfield on the “Load/Reload” era. As the tune comes into its finale it suddenly changes to a strange little ditty that will have you wondering if you actually heard what you heard. The bass lead start of “Mr. Creosote” is quite grungy and has a style like very early Nirvana without the massive distortion. Vocally Marco Priotti is throaty but clean in approach, the smokiness of his voice enhances the down tuned stoner style extremely well. Some of the tunes like “Riot” will catch you out as it comes across as commercial but when the band adds keyboards to the song a new approach is obvious and within that you can easily think of Pearl Jam and even Nickelback.

The acoustic beginnings of “Phantom Limb” are very serene and sweet and here the vocals are sung well but not perfectly as the music here is polished but roughed up around the edges to create texture like bands such as Sparzanza. The keyboards within this tune are unexpected but fit well if a little snug within the formula being adopted. A bands ability to engage the listener rest on testing what you’d accept for stoner rock or metal as I thoroughly enjoyed “Isaac Foretold It”, it starts with a melancholic hook and drum fill and rumbling bass line with a haunting vocal that suddenly sparks to life with a rousing keyboard choral arrangement and it’s probably that keyboard usage that will make stoner fans screw up their faces.

The rather sublime “Raise Your Head” moves the release into a much milder style initially and possesses some ethnic like instrumentation which lies very low in the mix but enough for you to pay attention and ponder the tune as it gradually increases in tempo before pausing for a chugging riff and more keyboard adornments and is probably the most experimental track on the release and contrasts starkly with “Sandglass” and it’s dominant acoustic focus and it is here I found the vocals a little strained and in need of some tone practice to get it perfect for the tone of the tune. Closing this curious album is “Englewood’s Hotel” and the quirky little keyboard tap works brilliantly as it develops into a full blown almost virtual classical reproduction but with very solemn guitar work and vocals. The closing section is percussively laden and very eclectic indeed as are the piano additions that add more to a song already brimming with ideas much like the album as a whole.

For a debut this has set the benchmark for their sophomore extremely high and I applaud The Cyon Project’s vision to write testing ambitious tunes that will have you puzzled but enthralled enough to keep listening repeatedly.

(8/10 Martin Harris)