For a while, I was very worried. These bad quality sound tidbits of Red Cain‘s Kindred: Act II that I had the displeasure to find throughout 2020 sounded so Amaranthe, I almost hit a depression worse than Covid. I mean, I love the talented Elize Ryd, but the stuff this particular band struts often sounds like a hangover grown stale.
So, I was ready to sacrifice everything to the mighty Cthulhu1) only to avoid that yet another talented band would start to surf the sickeningly sweet wave of the Pop Metal mainstream. Because – you see – we don’t need more shampoo commercials that these people call clips.
But fear naught.
Kindred: Act II remains rough-hewn, all over the place, and totally unpredictable. Something we already appreciated on the first Kindred record. Even if Sliptrick apparently changed the tracklist of the original release in early 2020, and we’re still annoyed.
That said, Red Cain have not lost any of their animal spirit or that particular zing they so aptly project. And that’s just the way we like it. You’ll find the usual2) wild mix of Progressive and Power Metal, with a good dose of good ol’ goth sloth thrown in for good measure.
The band – however – seems to lean more into the fantastical realm of Power Metal this time. And that means more space monsters and other cosmic horrors that better remain unnamed. Lest they follow that call and come in to haunt ye.
Perhaps Zayarny‘s squad also rubbed elbows a tad too much with Kobra last time. Because here, Red Cain exude that whiff of a darker incarnation of Kamelot relatively often3). But that’s a pretty cool way of making good on one of their promises they called – somewhat ambiguously – “…more Power Metal.” And they succeed pretty damn well, unless other bands that did not quite make it to these lofty heights.
Not very surprisingly, Kindred: Act II slams a new definition on the term multilayered. The record is complex to a point but never overwhelmingly enough to confuse the listener. Yet, it took us a number of spins to decipher the truly delicious chaos that Red Cain continue to throw at their fans. This is what I call taking arrangements to the next level.
Once the first track Kindred roars off the rails, the fears of a Pop Metal disaster quickly leave the building4). Instead, a Lovecraftian scheme sets in. One that will invoke all those tentacled horrors you probably never want to meet. The meaty riffing is indeed exactly at that elevated Scoville range that we like this band to be in. I mean, the way they garble themselves through that song, with that totally evil little solo in the middle, somewhat rearranged my hairdo.
Now, nothing is without sins, of course. And I’ll forgive them that they crank up the Kiske mainstream machine a bit too much at times5). It never lasts for very long, though, the folks at Red Cain are a crafty bunch. Next thing you know, and they hit you over the head with some wildly tilted left turn you never expected.
Like in Precipice of Man that almost made me choke on my vodka, once I heard Evgeniy Zayarny wheeze away in a falsetto voice that crazily reminded me of David Byron‘s long-gone frontal attack from the ’70s. But joking apart, this is one of the strongest tracks on Kindred: Act II. One with a flow that frankly amazed the deck crew so much, they tried to break the repeat button.
And the falsetto thing won’t entertain you for long. Because some Power Metal style dissonance will hit you, together with space-grade Latin phrases. Also, I have seldom seen an arrangement so flawlessly executed than on this track. We’re still chanting along with the snazzy chorus. If anything, the song is testament to the superb songwriting chops on display throughout this record.
Apart from the colorful and often almost alternative brand of Power Metal, Red Cain sometimes display a more progressive vein. Varyag and the Shrike6) is probably one of the most complex pieces on Kindred: Act II. A gothically tainted piece that suddenly veers away in this alt/prog multiverse where the djents take over and the listener gets lost.
But hang in there. Because Sunshine (Blood Sun Empire) will furnish a fitting end to that wild story. A brand of speedy power prog with an ambient tinge and sudden stops to give Zalcoatl a chance to bitch and moan about shadows talking to him. And – of course – to confer with Juliet, his enigmatic companion.7) To create further magick, I reckon – or something along these lines.
So, there’s proof yet again that a strong storyline breeds great quality. It is – however – also true that those short forays into the synth-pop universe aren’t quite helpful to harden the record’s metal. Furthermore, whoever did the mixing and mastering may have hit that compressor button a few times too many. So much so that things become wobbly, depending on the equipment you use for playback. But in the overall scheme of things, those signs of discomfort are but slight distractions.
But finally, the crew here found yet another gem from Red Cain, one filled with cosmic terrors this time. Kindred: Act II provides us with an additional slice of that delicious metal geekery that this band is capable of. A record that makes complexity sound easy, even casual.
And that’s a feat not many bands master these days anymore.
Get dat tune:
|1.||Everything. Doghouse, music machine, blog, the dark soul of humanity, Amaranthe. Well, perhaps not the blog, and only the old music machine.|
|2.||Usual? Nothing is ever ‘usual’ with Red Cain. -Ed.|
|3.||I heard she is kinda connected to these folks.|
|4.||Bye, Amaranthe, don’t need to sell ye after all.|
|5.||My shiny, fluttery disco ball, where art thou?|
|6.||A merciless bird terror, a serial killer with a pretty face. impaler of future food items. The shrike, not the Varyag.|
|7.||Finally, I found her again. Hehe.|