Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Cyntia - Limit Break (2014)

In the grand scheme of things, Cyntia is an odd bird. It's not often that one sees a bunch of girly girls playing metal, and it's even rarer that they actually excel at their instruments, instead preferring to spend time perfecting their looks in lieu of practicing. But the thing is, Cyntia isn't like most other glitter bands and defies the stereotype, sounding incredibly accomplished, like an ensemble who has been grinding away at the path to success for years on end.

The music certainly speaks for itself: Euro-sounding power metal, the occasional cushy J-pop melody, and, at times, a progressive tinge spit forth some of the catchiest metal this side of pop music. Cyntia has the chops to back it up, too, displaying the sort of dexterity expected of a band playing an entirely different sub-genre of metal and punches well above what Limit Break's rather underwhelming cover suggests. Vocals reach heights unbeknownst to all but the most accomplished frontmen (in this case, women!), and the performance stands as a testament to how far Saki has come since Cyntia's debut, in both raw talent and willingness to adventure outside her comfort zone. Indeed, listening to her hit the notes during "Night Flight's" chorus is one of Limit Break's defining moments and, without it, the song's climactic point would fall flat on its face.

Of course, the rest of the band is just as impressive and has a large part in what is undoubtedly Cyntia's best effort to date. Normally buried under a barrage of drums and distortion, the keyboard emerges as Limit Break's MVP, narrowly edging out the guitar with a combination of sinuous melodies and synth patches that help carry many of the tracks' introductions, like "Ride on Time," "カルマ," and "閃光ストリングス." Know, however, that Yui's guitar playing is nothing to scoff at, and an excellent, not to mention incredibly memorable, assortment of solos emerge across board as yet another reminder that Cyntia has serious, serious chops, despite being comprised of five unabashed glamor girls. "Night Flight," the Van Halen-esque "SSS," and "孤影悄然" are absolutely stellar in that regard.

Limit Break, in effect, matches a good chunk of recent Japanese power metal releases and even outshines them in terms of creativity, as far as this reviewer is concerned. With their third full-length, Cyntia has hit the proverbial nail on the head, striking gold only three years into their career, which is a feat in and of itself for a band with so little professional experience under their belts. At this rate, Cyntia has nowhere to go but up, but the question remains: how long can they keep reinventing the wheel, crafting flawless (or nearly so) release after flawless release?

...hopefully for a very long time. Keep up the good work, ladies.