It seems like 2016 is the year when my long-awaited albums are finally releasing. Cyril originally released their debut “Gone Through Years” back in 2013, and it was a revelation to me. Not only was the music modern and classic simultaneously, but the thematic homage paid to H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine” instantly sold me on the band (Wells is my favorite author). Fast forward to 2016, and the band is finally releasing their sophomore album “Paralyzed”, and what an album it is!
Cyril is made up of a great group of musicians (a few that are also in the amazing band Toxic Smile), including Larry Brödel on vocals; Marek Arnold on keys, sax, and clarinet; Denis Strassburg on bass and programming; Clemens Litschko on drums; and Ralf Dietsch on guitars. This time around we also have Manuel Schmid on vocals, too. The band, like I said, plays a modern version of the classic prog sound, but I do find that they have expanded that, especially in the areas I was hoping.
Unlike the debut album, I was not, and still am not, familiar with the concept behind “Paralyzed”. Marek told me that this is not a concept album, but each track represents its own story, and the final track is part 1 of a story they will continue later. What I do know, though, is that there are lots of feelings present, encapsulated into great songs with catchy choruses. The album opens with “Scarlet Walking”, a song full of great riffs and a second half that seems stuck in my head forever, mainly due to Larry’s great vocals: The second song is the title track, a quieter song that takes a few spins to appreciate fully. These two songs are fairly straightforward, but are very, very enjoyable.
The album, from this point, begins to show variety in both style and structure. “Remember Me”, my favorite, starts out slowly, but builds to an exquisite, layered finale that really lifts your heart into your throat. The feelings here are especially palpable. “Rainbow” is an acoustic ballad that is incredibly catchy. In fact, my daughter loves to sing it all the time. Yes, I do expose my children to prog.
The final three tracks on the album are very interesting. “Faded Snapshots” is a quirky, wonderful song that elicits emotions of longing and memory through very progressive structure. “Peal of Thunder” has a gentle, jazzy atmosphere. The final track “Secret Place, Pt. 1” is probably the gentlest epic I’ve ever heard. It clocks in at about 18 minutes, but it eases into the music rather quietly, increases into a classy, personal sequence, and then slowly fades again.
So, I’ve described the album track by track, which I don’t usually do. However, what I haven’t told you about is the level of musicianship, the sheer class, and the bluesy influences throughout the album. Marek, like always in all of his bands, lays down some amazing keys, whether piano or synth, and even more amazing sax and clarinet. One of my favorite things about this album is the fact that Marek’s woodwinds have an expanded role this time. Rather than being a novel solo here and there, I feel like these woodwinds are more vital to the album itself, especially “Secret Place”. Thus, “Paralyzed” has a distinctly calmer and jazzier atmosphere than “Gone Through Years”.
The rest of the band is just as good. Larry sounds awesome, like always, and Manuel’s voice has a very different tone, offering more variety and great harmony. The mix on the album really brings out Denis’ active bass lines and the dynamic drums from Clemens. Ralf’s guitars, too, are a main character of this album, ranging from Gilmourish solos to hardened riffs to acoustic majesty, and he mixes well with Marek’s keys. This album has so much personality, but it ultimately just feels so good to hear and enjoy. It’s very relaxing due to its exquisite, pastoral nature.
“Paralyzed”, then, is a very different from Cyril’s debut. It is less chronological and retro, it is jazzier and smoother, and its melodies will melt your knees. It has fantastic instrumental sections that build to wonderful climaxes, and the lyrics are well written by friend of the band Guy Manning. There is no filler, and the musicians never resort to pretentious or gaudy moments. Ultimately, this is an album of peace, emotion, and gentleness, but it still grabs you from the first minute. Get this album!
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