Kalisia
Cybion

A 20-part, hour-plus epic concept album mixing virtuoso progressive metal, blistering melodic death and symphonic grandeur? Sold.

This French band comes off like the glorious blend of Scar Symmetry, Symphony X and Nightwish, with plenty of other influences – Cynic being a big one – popping up throughout. As you’d expect from those references, the musicianship on this is just staggering. Much of the album is a relentless, melodic death assault, with explosions of dizzying neoclassical guitar and keyboard solos on almost every track. Just listen to “Isolation/Liberation” and “Resolution/Protection,” which beggar much of what Gothenburg has been churning out lately. There are even guest appearances by Arjen Lucassen of Ayreon, Paul Masvidal of Cynic, Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy, and some production support by Andy Sneap. I also have to point out the terrific mix, which lets every instrument stand on its own – particularly the bass, which comes into focus more often than is usually allowed in this genre.

Given Kalisia‘s progressive bent, there’s also a remarkable variety of other elements that are woven into Cybion, including: Spanish classical guitar and smooth jazz on “Fusion/Rebellion,” wah-wah space rock and Tool-like tribal drums on “Damnation/Seclusion,” and pop-diva techno and a jazzy, stabby prog freakout on “Violation/Condemnation.” Kalisia clearly isn’t afraid to experiment, although sometimes I wish that these interludes lasted a bit longer. Occasionally you get one that’s just a tad too whimsical, like the synthy big band/funk on “Education/Deification” (it sounds like an outtake from Sonic the Hedgehog), but overall, this kitchen sink approach makes for a consistently surprising listen.

The vocal treatments on the album are just as diverse and accomplished. Vocalist Brett Caldas-Lima has an excellent death roar, somewhere between Dark Tranquillity and Amorphis. The death vox are used most often, but there are also a number of passages featuring Elodie Buchonnet’s sweet, clear female vocals. They’re not as full-bodied as Nightwish, but not as cloying as other goth-metal chanteuses either, so overall they’re quite enjoyable. In addition to the death and female clean vox, we get male and female choirs, vocoder effects, spoken-word interludes, a few blackened screams, and an odd Geddy Lee imitation on “Damnation/Seclusion.” As with the music, these guys definitely know how to keep things fresh.

(Extra credit: the vocalist even wrote his own language, called Kal, for parts of the album. According to the website, it pulls from “Sanskrit, Latin, English, Arabic, Greek, German, Japanese, and even Quenya and Tengwar.” Take that, Tolkien!)

As awesome as all of this is, it does get exhausting at times. There are a few melodic refrains which repeat throughout the epic, but much of the experience is progressive and ever-shifting. Compared with something like Edge of Sanity‘s Crimson albums or Opeth‘s mammoth compositions, I feel like some sections of Cybion aren’t as well-defined or memorable on their own, but since I’m only seven listens in, this will probably come in time.

As if Cybion weren’t already an embarrassment of riches, Kalisia has included a bonus disc with the album called Origins. The first half are the songs from their out-of-print demo, Skies. These songs are impressive in their own right, but they’re a bit more power/prog than the more aggressive Cybion. Of these tracks, I enjoyed “The Mental Frames – Part I” the most, which comes off like Dream Theater meets Camel. The second half of Origins features four outstanding covers, most notably an extravagant version of Emperor‘s “I Am the Black Wizards,” and a must-hear, muscular version of Cynic‘s “How Could I.”

At 1 hour, 11 minutes and 11 seconds, Cybion is a monstrous release – and all the more impressive considering that it’s self-produced and independently released. Why these guys aren’t signed to a label yet is a huge mystery (unless they want it that way), so if you can’t find the album via some other distribution, head directly to their website to order a copy. You will definitely get your money’s worth, believe me.

Top ten of the year for sure.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
May 1st, 2009

Comments

  1. Commented by: Shane

    Very nice, Jordan.


  2. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    Thanks for the heads up on This Jordan- its amazing, might be an all time classic kind of record in 5-10 years


  3. Commented by: LoftComplication

    interesting…


  4. Commented by: gabaghoul

    credit has to go to Dan for finding it, he first posted on it in the Now Playing Thread.

    but yeah it is pretty spectacular, isn’t it?


  5. Commented by: ceno

    I heard parts of it and was really impressed. Now I guess I’d better find it one way or another. Thanks for the heads up, Jordan. Awesome review, man!


  6. Commented by: Staylow

    This definitely sounds interesting. I’ll check it out for sure. Nice review Jordan.


  7. Commented by: gabaghoul

    thanks guys – enjoy


  8. Commented by: elguerosinfe

    Is Jordan Itkowitz Gabaghoul?


  9. Commented by: gabaghoul

    yes. boo!


  10. Commented by: Storm King

    A completely awesome CD, don’t get me wrong, but this would be a legendary world beater if it was about 50 minutes long. There’s a lot of sameness to the music that could be shaved off at a shorter length. That said, it’s an easy top ten just off of one listen.


  11. Commented by: Dimaension X

    Sounds like an interesting disc, but with so many genres in a blender bands tend to over do it (Biomechanical??).

    Though I a prefer variety over one-dimensionality, so I have high hopes after reading this review.


  12. Commented by: elguerosinfe

    The keyboards killed this one for me. I love keyboards for atmosphere, but keyboard soloists should be killed.


  13. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    This came yesterday

    I ehar some Dol Ammad in here also- amazing stuff. I loved the keybaord solos- and those choirs!


  14. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    God this is brilliant – my thoughts in it FWIW

    http://www.metalreview.com/Reviews/5049/Kalisia-Cybion.aspx


  15. Commented by: gabaghoul

    wow makes my review sound restrained :)


  16. Commented by: Jeje

    I can’t believe we had to wait 14 years to finally have a successor to Skies, but it was worth waiting.
    Definitely in the top 5 of the year.

    Excellent review Jordan and hail to French Metal (so rare…)


  17. Commented by: gabaghoul

    with excellent black metal like Blut Aus Nord and Artefact and stuff like this, France is becoming the new Sweden, it seems. oh and an amazing horror movie scene too (Inside, Frontieres, Martyrs, Calvaire, Them, etc)


  18. Commented by: Blog › Teeth of the Divine Staff Picks of 2009 › Teeth of the Divine

    […] 1. Kalisa – Cybion […]


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