Friday, December 8, 2017

Cyborg Asylum - Never Finished, Only Abandoned (2017)

Written by David Shouse, posted by blog admin

Never Finished, Only Abandoned is the first release from Cyborg Asylum, a twosome combining American and English influences into an unique powerhouse quite unlike any other act working today in the alternative rock/industrial genre. Rather than just focusing on slambanging guitar and percussion theatrics, Cyborg Asylum inventively utilizes melody and atmospherics to further strengthen their muscular arrangements. There’s an enormous amount of imagination powering the album’s twelve songs and the duo never relaxes their musical standards – hence, there isn’t a single song on the release you can regard as filler. Cyborg Asylum’s sonic landscape is varied enough that hardcore music fans will find virtually endless riches in these performances while casual fans will find the tracks to be accessible and intensely physical. Never Finished, Only Abandoned paraphrases the renowned quote from Leonardo da Vinci that a work of “… art is never finished, only abandoned” and even a cursory listen through this album will convince anyone that Cyborg Asylum has certainly crafted an enduring work of musical art.

The thought and consideration that goes into realizing this release reveals itself in multiple ways. Despite Tumminia’s vocal and lyrical presence in the duo, a substantial portion of the release is devoted to instrumental tracks, usually brief in duration when compared to the tracks where Tumminia contributes more, and they demonstrate the deliberate yet organic approach that defines even the vocally driven numbers. “Blitz” makes excellent use of sound effects well in keeping with its title and theme; it makes for a powerful opener. “Synergy” is a much more stripped down, sinewy endeavor that features two key elements for the first time – John Tumminia’s vocals and Phil Jones’ guitar work. The former, obviously, exerts the largest influence on the track’s development, although it achieves different effects than one might expect thanks to the presence of post production manipulations. Jones’ guitar isn’t a shirking violet, however – the edgy distortion and upper register wails he incorporates into the arrangement immeasurably enhance the track. “War Machine” is another of the album’s instrumental tracks and the hints of imminent threat couched in its industrial textures are impossible to ignore. Its brief running time only serves to underscore its impact.

“Weightless” brings one of the album’s best arrangements with, beyond dispute, Tumminia’s finest lyric. The near poetic attributes of his writing create a striking contrast with the dark hued music and his delivery is up to the task of helping the material get over even stronger with listeners. The rattling percussive snap driving “Fragments as Illusion” along has its effects doubled by a haunting Tumminia vocal and the song takes a handful of surprising turns that will grip listeners. “Pale Green Dot” brings piano into the instrumental mix and it makes this instrumental melodically glitter in a way that few tracks on Never Finished, Only Abandoned are capable of. There’s certainly a tangible darkness that increasingly creeps in along the edges of the performance. It serves as a natural introduction of sorts, perhaps unintentionally, to the album’s last track “Paradigm Shift”. This shows the duo intent on ending their debut with enough appreciable sonic and musical force that listeners will feel satisfied, albeit a little dazed. Never Finished, Only Abandoned is definitely an exhaustive experience, but rewarding regardless, and it gives this tandem an exceptional strong debut to build on.

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