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(46:07; Progressive Promotion Records)
German band Cyril are back with their third album, and again they have collaborated with Guy Manning, so while Marek Arnold (keyboards, sax), Denis Strassburg (bass, programming) and Manuel Schmid (vocals, keyboards) provided the music, Guy provided the lyrics and story. The line-up is of course completed by Larry B. (vocals), Ralf Dietsch (guitars) and Clemens Litschko (drums). The story itself can be found hidden under the CD, and regards a patient in hospital who finds himself floating above his body looking down on himself, and in some ways reminds me of William Golding’s classic ‘Pincher Martin’ (yes, be amazed, he did write many more books than just ‘Lord of the Flies’). Only a few guests this time, including Guy himself who provides spoken word, but there is room for Martin Schnella to provide some additional guitar, which given his relationship with many in the band is no surprise at all. This is crossover progressive rock, multi-layered like a thick blanket. The vocals are sublime, as always, while the band provide richness beneath. Just when one thinks that it is going to be just a little too cloying something happens which provides cut through, such as a saxophone, or strident guitar, while the drumming is always far more interesting than just someone keeping the beat (this is the last appearance from founder member Litschko as he has left to spend time with his young family, and he has now been replaced by Florian Graf). I have long been a fan of Marek Arnold, as his arranging skills and deployment of a sax at opportune moments are always a wonder, and I can’t be the only one who regrets the demise of Toxic Smile which also featured both him and Larry (bassist Robert Brenner actually makes a guest appearance on this album as well). When the band are on fire, such as on “Get Up High” which contains wonderful interaction between keyboards, bass and various guitars (actually making the listener think of classic Oldfield), then the music is majestic, powerful, and totally enthralling. However, on this album that isn’t always the case, and “First Love (A Lullaby)” is at least two minutes too long, and even then, the band aren’t sure how to end it, so fade it out. I actually think this could well work in concert where the guitars are allowed that little more frenetic cut through, but here it just drags, and I found myself looking at the player wondering just how much longer it had to go. Cyril provide polished layered melodic progressive rock with many pop sensibilities, and while this may not be a totally essential album, is still one I enjoyed playing. They are starting to gig as well now, so it will be interesting to see what the next one is like, as that may well change their outlook.
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