With the creative dust of last album Come Out And Play still filling the air in the wake of its release in February, industrial/harsh EBM project Cynical Existence has decided it is time to up the ante and unleash new EP Beholder. Usually you would suggest a band should allow an album to drain all of the acclaim and recognition it deserves before tempting the world with the next release but such the fire and immense step forward in the new EP there is no such sense here. The six track release makes a scintillating companion to the excellent album but at the same time shows that the invention and creativity of Fredrik Croona has already found and explored a deeper darker plateau to take his project to new expansive realms.
As most are probably aware now, Cynical Existence began as a solo project for ex- Project Rotten founder/vocalist Croona who also is the former vocalist of dark electro/industrial act Menschdefekt. Initially just an experiment, the project fuelled itself with the aural invention of the man into a real musical proposition. The excellent 2012 EP A Familiar Kind of Pain instantly setting a place for the band at the head table of the industrial/ebm underground reinforced later in the same year by the following EP Ruined Portrait. It was Come Out And Play though which merged earlier tracks and more recent ones to set a benchmark by which we would grade subsequent releases from Croona. Now with the addition of Steve Alton of UK project System:FX in the studio on guitar in the line-up, Cynical Existence has not only met the bar but surpassed it whilst venturing into another striking depth of exploration.
Opening track The Mindless Filth in many ways is a bridge between releases, its contagious rigid beats and compelling electro
weaves a resonating and thumping puppet master for limbs and emotions demanding dancefloor attention. It has a foot in the infectious commanding call of the last album and its wealth of insatiable board treading irresistibility but equally is set in what emerges in the new release as darker more intense shadowed textures. The variety of vocal from Croona hints at depths within song and release yet to be trodden whilst his synths light the way with acidic radiance and rhythmic temptation. It is a mighty start if arguably what you would expect in quality and direction from the man though he soon sets thoughts facing new ventures with its successor.
Mardröm, meaning nightmare in Swedish, lays down a web of sinister ambience and crystalline electro hints to tempt in thoughts and emotions, its atmosphere sinister and under a veil of shadows before sonic shafts of light break through their cover. Opening up its sinews to their fullest length the oppressive dark corners crowd in to accentuate the elegance and potency of the synths whilst the brewing dark forces seemingly at play with the vocals from Croona, sung in his native tongue, add to the black edged mystique and latent venom prowling the scene. The cleaner delivery alongside the regular rasping serpentine tone of his vocals and the caustic sonic winds which slowly embrace the ear bring further uncertainty to the dangerous atmosphere eventually making the persuasion, and add to the riveting intrigue of the excellent track.
The outstanding Hail To The King Baby takes over next and elevates things to yet another level of pleasure and invention. Initialising attention with computer game teasing and atmosphere, which continues throughout with samples from Duke Nukem also employed, the track is an unrelenting ride through corridors of impending walls and hidden intimidation, its ride twisting and turning down avenues of sonic and melodic enterprise. Imagine games where you are on a constant run and are persistently changing direction to face more options and suspected dangers, like life really, this track is the equivalent with its imagination.
The Beginning Of The End continues the striking height of its predecessor, firstly by knocking at the ear with a hollow like voice to its call and then by reaping the seeds of those earlier nightmares to breed a wash of rhythmic provocation and evocative melodic intrusion, the haunting consumption seducing and threatening every pore and thought whilst the beats tease and taunt the whole intimidation. The guitar of Alton equally riles up the situation to reward the listener even further within the thoroughly thrilling and incendiary incitement of emotions and fears.
The release closes with firstly Draining Me featuring Russian project Freaky Mind and lastly Wake Up Call featuring the guest vocals of Sindelle Morte of Scream Machine. The first of the two is like a rumbling storm in the distance, its throaty hunger residing in its electro honed skies but making known its intent through the rhythms and oppressing ambience, whilst the second is a doomy crawl with funereal breath to its mesmerising and enveloping intent. The mix of vocals between Croona and Morte works a treat, her shadow dwelling melodic whispers lighting up the darker tones of the narrative and its realisation.
It is fair to say that Beholder needs more time to make its full and lingering persuasion compared to previous Cynical Existence releases but in return for the intensive focus rewards in ways the others never dreamed of. It is an outstanding encounter which only excites anticipation for one hope what will be a deeper investigation of the dark plains started here.
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