It’s always a good year when Cyril releases a new album. I’ve been following them since their H.G Wells’ Time Machine concept album debut “Gone Through Years” back in 2013. Their follow up “Paralyzed” was even better and was one of my favorite albums of 2016. They are back again with “The Way Through”, and it is yet again a strong entry in their canon.
Cyril hails from Germany. The line up on this album includes: Marek Arnold (Seven Steps to the Green Door, Toxic Smile, Flaming Row) on keyboards and sax; Denis Strassburg on bass; Manuel Schmid (Star Combo Meissen) on vocals and keys; Larry Brödel (Toxic Smile) on vocals; Ralf Dietsch on guitars; Clemens Litschko on drums; with lyrics written by Guy Manning of Damanek. Martin Schnella (Flaming Row) guests on some guitars and also mixed the album. Wow, that was quite a bit of work to type.
Cyril plays a melodic, somewhat jazzy version of progressive rock. Their debut sounded much more like their 70s counterparts, but the last couple albums, especially with the inclusion of Manuel as more of a shared lead singer with Larry, have broken that sound down into excellent songwriting and soothing atmospheres. Gorgeous synth and pealing sax are the names of the game here, as are textured ambiance and excellent guitar work. Did I mention the luscious atmospheres?
The band seems to be going further and further into a vocally-lead direction. The vocals on this album offer excellent harmonies and catchy choruses, but they do dominate the album. Some of the songs have structures that are bit more basic than for most progressive rock. This really isn’t a problem, just an observation. Still, you will hear plenty of fantastically-composed instrumentals, and the overall atmosphere of the album is just a joy to hear.
I will admit that, after first listen, this record was my least favorite of Cyril’s discography. It took quite a bit of time to grow on me, even though the melodies are instantly attractive. I’m not sure what the issue was, to be honest. Currently, I would say this is as good as their wonderful debut, though “Paralyzed” will be very difficult to beat for me since I hold it on a high pedestal.
“The Way Through” features many excellent tracks. “The Gate” is a great opener with a sweet synth melody and a good helping of the harmony that I was wanting to hear. “First Love” is one of those songs that feels a bit repetitive the first time, but then you find yourself singing it later, and then you realize that you love it. “Get Up High” starts off seeming like a straightforward song, but launches into a vicious instrumental in the second half that sounds amazing.
My two favorites are “My Own Reflection” and the title track. The former has a great chorus, happy feelings, a lush sax solo, and fantastic keyboards; not to mention a brilliant instrumental near the end. It leaves you feeling good. The latter ends the album instrumentally. It is lush, beautiful, and progressively gets more complex until the ending explodes with light.
Overall, “The Way Through” feels like home. The themes on the album relate to nostalgia, fighting life’s battles, and finding the path home, and they are all very welcome and speak to my heart. The music is soothing and perfectly performed, though I would not say that it takes many risks, per se. Sometimes, I don’t necessarily want that out of an album, though. Sometimes, I just want an album to sing to and to speak to my soul, and that is exactly what “The Way Through” does.