Cynical Existence – Erase, Evolve and Rebuild

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It only took a minute of the opening track to Erase, Evolve and Rebuild to hear and feel something has stirred and evolved within Cynical Existence. The band’s second album it is a riveting collection of distinct and diverse soundscapes soaked in a maturity and craft which sees the project at a level only hinted at previously. It is a hypnotic web of invention and exploration which embraces the darkest shadows but also the most acidic and caustic light, the result a release which stalks, rampages through, and dances with senses and thoughts whilst seducing the emotions, though not always in that permutation.

Formed by Fredrik Croona (ex- Project Rotten/ Menschdefekt) as a solo project, Cynical Existence as evolved into a startling and formidable beast which has continued to impress across EPs and earlier this year the project’s debut album Come Out And Play, not long after followed by the Beholder EP. For most bands this frequency of releases leads to the occasional less than endearing or potent encounters but this is definitely not the case with Croona and co, in fact it has to be said that Erase, Evolve and Rebuild leaves much of what came before pale in its company despite their also impressive declarations. The depth and strength unleashed by the new album suggests that maybe the other recent releases have consisted of older written material or simply the striking evolution sculpted by Croona and Steve Alton of UK project System:FX who joined the band late last year, the pair now joined by third member George Klontzas of Pre Emptive Strike 0.1, is that dramatic a sudden leap. Erase, Evolve and Rebuild certainly does nothing to diminish the sizeable impression and quality forged by A Familiar Kind of Pain, Come Out And Play, etc. though instead it just breeds another wave of striking accomplishment by Cynical Existence.

Released via Belgium label Alfa Matrix, Erase, Evolve and Rebuild has little problem in having feet and thoughts in eager frontmovement through opener Something Strange. Synths instantly cast a festivity of sound over the ears, an ambience which is welcoming and almost devilish especially with the darker feisty electro stomp which keenly joys the invitation. The vocals of Croona squall with the caustic breath and malevolent lure which we have come to know and enjoy but the song also shows the appetite to infuse a cleaner darker gothic tone to the narrative which only excites. There is a lighter essence and buoyancy to the track compared to certainly the Beholder EP, but shadows and dark menaces still have room to toy with the listeners thoughts. A track sure to add fire to the dancefloor, it makes a compelling start to the album.

The following Erase Me is equally as potent and effective in rousing up the passions, its electro caress of a dawning soon a bulbous beckoning moving into an electro punk confrontation through the guitar of Alton. A riotous snarl coats the song from vocals through to the causticity breeding an irresistible temptation and wrapped in another waltz of electronic sedition which invites limbs and a voracious hunger to enlist in the track’s insatiable incitement, it is a rivetingly sculpted pinnacle of the album and further evidence of the evolution at work.

    My Decadence, Your Sins which features Rave the Reqviem has an absorbing eighties temptation to its thrilling landscape, a scenery which is like Depeche Mode does industrial at times and at other moments like Celldweller on a distinct mission to taunt the songbook of Fad Gadget. Despite those thoughts the track is still uniquely Cynical Existence in its stance and enterprise with the fact that the three minutes plus are over far too soon the only niggle. The feast of invention continues the scintillating presence of the album with ease, passing its heady presence on to the magnetic searing electro quickstep of Imperfect followed by the evocatively hued The Divine. Elegant classically wrapped keys open up the second of the two songs, its gentle radiant coaxing leading thoughts into the haunting melancholic caresses at the heart of the track. It is a masterful provocation of emotion and shadow cloaked climes, the gravelly vocals as on all songs that rasping texture which tempers and compliments the clean delivery and the melodic rays of sonic beauty.

The album from this point on immerses in even darker wells of malevolent rapture and predacious intent. The imagination consuming Falling with its thumping heartbeat the centre of a tempestuous emotional cloud and the pulsating heavy booted yet still irresistibly charming Deus Ex Complex are both unafraid to stalk the blackest corners within especially in the second of the two, shards of irrepressible electro romping whilst Our Bright Future is a twisted riotous incendiary tango of sound and energy which is prone to long breaths and pleasing unpredictability. This new energised character of a dance also reaps and offers its rewards through Sins Of Your Flesh and though the trio of songs maybe lack the final knock-out punch of their predecessors all leave satisfaction full.

The Endless Stride has a structure and contagion which feels closely akin to the first album without any definition as to why or to which offering whilst the effulgence of An Eternity Stuck On Repeat bewitches from its first glassy elegant touch, seducing with a wantonness which is refined yet brazenly uncompromising. The songs bring more open variation to the album as does the guitar grazing company of No Compromise and the industrialised rapacious crowding of the senses from Transformation (a search for change), both tracks successful conspirators in a slavery of the passions.

Completed by the outstanding smouldering cinematic instrumental of At the end (Outro), Cynical Existence has thrust themselves to the very fore of electro/industrial mastery with the transfixing Erase, Evolve and Rebuild. Arguably top heavy with its first selection of tracks a more vigorous exploit for feet and energy though the latter is no less an accomplished instigator of darker emotions and realms, the album takes the existing successes and sounds of the band into new breath-taking adventures of imagination and craft.

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9/10

RingMaster 21/11/2013

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Cynical Existence – Beholder EP

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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

Artwork  by OneTwoTree Designs

Artwork by OneTwoTree Designs

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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9/10

RingMaster 23/05/2013

 

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Returning to play – An interview with Fredrik Croona.

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This month sees the debut album from Swedish harsh EBM/industrial/dark electro band Cynical Existence unveiled, a release which ignites further the already blazing passion inspired for the one man project of Fredrik Croona as forged by his previous two EPs.  The founder and one half of the excellent aggrotech/industrial act Project Rotten and former vocalist of dark electro/industrial band Menschdefekt, Fredrik with his first album Come Out And Play ventures further in to the darkest corners of the human condition through his own personally inspired and emotive experiences and thoughts to provoke and evoke. Grabbing the opportunity to talk with the man again and ask about his new imaginative and melodically abrasive dark engagement we asked him about the release and more…

Hi Fredrik and welcome back to The RingMaster Review. It has been a year since we last talked with you how has the time treated you personally and with Cynical Existence?

Thanks Pete, Wow…really? Time flies when you’re having fun eh? I’ve been keeping active that’s for sure, working on new stuff and playing around quite a bit. I can’t really complain, 2012 was a pretty damn good year and I hope 2013 will be even better.

You are about to release your excellent debut album Come Out And Play in February, how are the emotions as the date it is unleashed draws closer?

I am eager that’s for sure, and I really hate to wait. It will drive me crazy one day, that’s for sure. And it’s not close enough! Damnit, I want it out now! But to be honest, it’s exciting to be able to watch what you’ve been working on for quite a few months become something physical (yes, I already have a few CDs here at my place).

After the well-received responses and acclaim garnered by your previous EPs, A Familiar Kind Of Pain and Ruined Portrait, are the emotions different in regard to Come Out And Play this time around?

I have no idea, haven’t gotten any reviews of the album yet, besides yours of course and you really seemed to enjoy it. I’m hoping that when I do get other reviews and opinions from people they will enjoy it. Well I actually lied, because a few people have heard my teasers and really seem to be digging it haha.

How would you say your songwriting and sounds  have evolved between your first release and the new album and certainly the stuff AM1187CDyou are working on now?

In the beginning I don’t think I evolved that much to be honest, I just kept working and working and working on new stuff every f*cking day and basically shooting out tracks. When I started out I could make a track in one day more or less, but the more I actually worked and played around the longer it took to make a track. Now it can take me 3-4 days to complete the music alone (if not even longer sometimes). And when it comes to sound it always depends on what I am listening to at the moment.

Come Out And Play has a stronger intensity and investigates deeper shadows than the EPs, is that fair to say?

Yes, mainly because the album focuses more on my own life and my experiences throughout it. Sure the older tracks are also connected to me in most cases, but this one holds more feelings and I try to express them through my music and vocals. What I can say now thought is that my new stuff is even more personal and deep than the debut.

Again the album is borne of your personal experiences and thoughts then?

Every track I make is more or less personal in its own way and holds a story of its own. What I want to do in the future is actually make a “concept album“ with every track linked to specific events of my personal life. Even thought everything might be personal, there’s still some fiction in there.

How difficult is it to interpret your feelings and thoughts into your music and do you attempt to get the listener to feel exactly what you are revealing or just to feel something?

It’s not really hard at all, since basically as soon as the lyrics are connected with a track and the vocals are on there the song changes from “just another track” to song that actually has a meaning to me. I write music for myself and if I can manage to deliver a message or get the listener to understand what I’m trying to express it’s all great. But in the long run I still focus on making something I feel strongly for.

Where do you start when writing songs?

Hell if I know lol. I just start with whatever comes to mind.

Are you a writer who once a track is finished can leave it alone or someone who has to keep nibbling away at it? I ask as you are known for some great remixes of other artist’s music so wonder if it also applies to your own creations unofficially 🙂

It depends, sometimes I throw a track over to a friend to see what they think of it and then maybe we’ll bounce it between each other every time I change something and in some cases I just work on it and feel that it’s ready and well that’s that. And about remixes, I have no idea what you mean since I’ve only made about 3 remixes so far. I hate remixes, it’s boring as hell.

Fredrik CroonaThe album also includes a couple of tracks from the earlier A Familiar Kind Of Pain, both songs Paradox and Insecure two of our persistent favourites. Why the inclusion and have you tweaked or revisited them creatively for the album?

Those are two of my first and best tracks ever, so why not? They will rip the dance floors apart! And about changing anything about them, I don’t think I actually did. The album has after all been ready for a few months now.

Do you have any particular moment or track on the album which makes you the proudest or gives you a personal tingle?

I’m broken which is reworked by Pre Emptive Strike 01 is probably the best track in both terms of music and vocals, since it’s very personal to me. Other than that track GDI is fun, and I wonder how many of the listeners will actually manage to figure out what inspired me to create it and where the samples are from.

What is the next step for Cynical Existence after the album, possible live performances?

Going straight forward! Going to work on my second album and get that done and then I’m going to play a few shows in the US this spring, hopefully I might get some more interesting ones. We’ll see what happens.

Could you bring us up to date with your other band Project Rotten? What has been happening in that area of your work over recent months?

We’ve been busy working with the new album that’s been in the works for almost 2 years and then of course we have a new EP coming out tomorrow (1st of February)! So it’s been a busy time and this year will probably also be really busy, hopefully.

Is it still challenging to juggle the two bands or have you found a more relaxed working schedule between the two?

It’s not challenging at all really, I mean I just do vocals and lyrics and Kettil makes the music and the production. So basically he sends me a new track when it’s ready and I create my magic and BAM it’s done. So it’s very laid back.

How different is the buzz between working and releasing something which is created and performed by just you and working with Fredrik Croona2another creative force in Kettil for Project Rotten?

Project Rotten is obviously a lot bigger than Cynical Existence since we’ve been around longer , so I guess PR’s fanbase is bigger and well then it’s pretty obvious that you hear more from the fans on that side than on CE’s side. Naturally I hope that CE’s fanbase will grow even bigger and expand a lot these coming few months. I have to show people how awesome I can be.

Many thanks for sharing time with us again Fredrik and good luck with the new album.

Thank you and hope you will enjoy it even more after a few more listenings.

Would you like to leave with your personal favourite tracks from both Cynical Existence and Project Rotten?

Do I have to? LOL, just kidding. With PR I’d go for a new track called In Total Control and Club Death.

With CE I would go with I’m Broken and GDI

Read the review of Come Out And Play @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/cynical-existence-come-out-and-play/

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The RingMaster Review 01/02/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Cynical Existence: Come Out And Play

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Released on February 22nd via Alfa Matrix, Come Out And Play the debut album from Swedish band Cynical Existence has been a highly anticipated proposition amongst fans of harsh EBM/industrial/dark electro fans. Last year saw two EPs from the band which lit up the genre and ventured to the darkest corners of the human condition through a melodic abrasion which was as refreshing and enthralling as it was imaginative and emotive. The solo project of Fredrik Croona, founder and one half of the excellent aggrotech/industrial act Project Rotten and former vocalist of dark electro/industrial band Menschdefekt, Cynical Existence has delved deeper in to its heart to create its darkest engagement  yet, a compelling caustic encounter which provokes and evokes the sharpest reactions alongside the fullest pleasure.

A Familiar Kind of Pain, the first EP from Croona, rampaged and stomped over the senses with a near viral infectiousness to a presence drawn on the personal heart and shadows of the artist. It was an impressive introduction to the project which was then equalled by second EP Ruined Portrait, a collection of tracks which breathed with a darker shadow than its predecessor without losing the contagion rife on the first record. It also suggested what is realised on Come Out And Play, a further depth of reflective inspirations which have evolved into a more intense and malevolent creativity. The album is challenging and arguably less infectious than previous releases but with a maturer energy and craft is just as contagious and impressive. It is an intriguing release which asks for more attention than maybe one initially expected but offers even greater rewards.

As the dawning opening atmosphere on A Scar On My Mind envelops the ear there is an immediate sense of darker energies emerging The vocals of Croona are less caustic than expected initially before his usual pleasing squalls of emotion are unleashed. It is an instant variation which grabs the attention and adds depth to the presence of the track. Melodic beckoning caresses weave their way through the chilled ambience of the song brewing a rich mix of light and dark aurally and emotionally. The sonic manipulation through addictive hooks and melodic teases are more of a loud whisper than an open invitation and makes for a fluid and thrilling veining to the track.

The following Deception is a lighter chord of inner investigation, its airy melodics and sun fuelled glow a warm expanse over the waiting shadows. It is with the glorious and unexpected ‘nintendo dance’ which breaks out that the track just soars further in the heart. It is an imaginative and again intriguing pleasure, an open sensation marking the evolution in the composing and invention of Croona. Without the denseness of the first song the track also declares a diversity to Come Out And Play which was possibly missing on the previous EPs and leaves one greedy for more.

The variety is continued through songs like I’m Broken which fuses the crystalline flavours found in New Order to an angst driven dancefloor expulsion of emotion, GDI, and the serpent spawn Face Of God. The middle song of the three licks the senses with its sonic tongue to intimidate and ignite the deepest rapture whilst offering an insidious and compelling melodic wash which command feet and passion. It is the perfect companion to Face Of God, a track which leads one on a dance of sinister intent and vibrant violation. Again light and dark is the invading emotion and once more the track is an angelic evil which leaves one drooling in hunger and desire.

The further in the release the greater the heights of ardour sparked. Pick Your Poison is another where Croona mixes his vocal delivery wonderfully and unleashes a raptorial elegance which is as corrosive and dangerous as you could wish but equally warm and reassuring. The outstanding Reign Supreme and The Sexual Game both leave their tortured touches on the senses with magnetic charm and disturbed emotion, the pair leaving one enlightened and shadowed in personal emotive thoughts, with the latter song inciting within a pair of familiar tracks. We make no apologies for drooling over Paradox and Insecure, two songs which first made their appearance on A Familiar Kind of Pain and stand as our favourite conjurations from the man, though they are seriously challenged elsewhere on this album. The duo return to unleash their hypnotic mordant dazzling and captivating anthemic riots adding a familiar but again open variation to the release.

Ending with a final tempestuous molestation of delicious sonic foment in Seeping Through, the album leaves one on a high and with an irresistible itch to dive back into the cathartic encounter once again. Cynical Existence just gets better and better and one wonders if it will eventually be a bigger beast than the ‘day job’ for Croona. Released as a single album or limited carton box with a second full album of remixes, Come Out And Play is an essential investigation for all electro/EBM/industrial fans and especially those of bands such as Suicide Commando, SITD, Grendel, and Virtual Embrace.

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RingMaster 17/01/2013

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Cynical Existence: Ruined Portrait

It seems like mere weeks ago that one of the best harsh ebm/ industrial releases to tease and provoke the senses this year arrived in the shape of A Familiar Kind of Pain, the debut EP from Swedish band Cynical Existence. The solo project of Fredrik Croona (Project Rotten) easily enflamed the passions and set a new benchmark for electro imagination. Now he returns with follow up release the Ruined Portrait EP. It continues the impressive blend of old school EBM with abrasive industrial invention found on his first EP whilst offering a rawer even more intensive breath. The teaser for the highly anticipated full length album Come Out And Play scheduled for an early 2013 release, the EP like its predecessor leaves an invigorating and decisive pleasure in its wake.

As soon as Misery stretches out its mesmeric arms, melodic pulses splashing upon the ear, the sense that the song and release is set to leave an imprint on the heart is immediate, the sonic seduction full and strong from the off. The serpentine vocals of Croona wrap around the shafts of aural light with the man again unleashing personal emotions into his compositions. His delivery is not as venomous as many but soaked in unmistakable shadows which add extra depth to the power of tracks and temper the often dazzling sonic radiance. Though arguably not a major departure from the tracks on A Familiar Kind of Pain, it feels darker, carrying a more abusive or abused energy in what is a vibrant and compulsive presence.

If the opener is a darker proposition the following Am I Alive is a definite plunge into sinister shadows, the vocals bordering on insidious and the accompanying whispers intimidating. The track is magnetic, the lure of acidic melodies irresistible whilst the caustic tones of the song just ignite further contagious entrapments. The best track on Ruined Portrait; it is a taunting combative glory to immerse within and succumb to.

Next up My Shining Halo initially weaves predatory sonic hooks before the ear, their attractive beckoning a wanton mischief,  before rampaging with further heavy touches and salty rubs to form a raw surface to the insatiable melodic swagger of the song. Approaching midway the track goes into a ‘stall’, its eager pace shifting into a prowling sizing up of the prey before erupting swiftly back to the hunger and rampant onslaught which started the corruption. It is another sensational seizing of thoughts and emotions whilst simultaneously, along with its predecessors, inspiring an intense impatience for the forthcoming album.

Let’s Play Dead featuring Polish band Reactor7x, wraps blistering tendrils of sound around the ear whilst the alternating vocals expose extremes of shadows within the sonic softening up of the senses. It is less immediate than other tracks but equally as impactful in its individual way. The jabbing beats cage emotions as the song lays its erosive harmonic caresses and caustic malevolence upon their ethereal flesh, their power cutting off any escape from the almost disorientating experience.

The release is completed firstly by a reinterpreted version of Face Of God by Moscow based industrial project Freaky Mind, and then by two remixes of tracks from A Familiar Kind of Pain. What the difference is between a reinterpreted version and a remix we will have to find out, but the first of the trio is an excited swarm of energy and sonic manipulation, the sounds swamping yet igniting the vocals of Croona for a dance track which fires up good reactions. The other two tracks are remixes of the best and our favourite two songs on the debut EP, and as such were on a hiding for nothing.  Both Insecure (IMPLANTed fear mix) and Paradox (Filtered through MIND:STATE), remixed by Implant and Mind:state (fellow Swede Per Holmström) respectively, are impressive reworkings which open up new thoughts and visions within the tracks but both pale against the brilliance of the originals for us. As always we admit the valid purpose of remixes still generally eludes us, especially when the source is almost untouchable, but given some time to make their case both tracks certainly gave food for thought, especially the jazzy exploits of the first of the two.

Released via  Alfa Matrix with  impressive cover artwork from one of teh best emerging artists in OneTwoTree Designs,  Ruined Portrait is excellent, a release which not only cements Croona as one of the essential contributors to the landscape of industrial but ensures next year and the release of his album cannot come soon enough

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RingMaster 30/10/2012

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