So The Boss (not Bruce, the other better-looking, harder rocking one) sent me this gem of a record to review last month and somehow I managed to lose that e-mail and not only lose it but lose it beyond the reaches of the NSA. I got away with it by writing an unsurprisingly captivating piece of Literature inspired by a completely different album (inspired? see: estrogen). But now things are back to awesome and now I have the link and am currently enjoying this massive album by Cyril Snear called: Riot of Colour. Notice the “u” in colour? Well, it’s not just pretense: these guys are imported UK cheese of the best kind. This is like imported Shiner, which means to say: yippee! My braincells are gonna par-teey!
Things start off with ‘Annex 01’, a massive monolith of a tune that explodes into its almighty riff after a brief spoken word intro, presumably a black man dissing the shit out of the free market. What you notice right away is the presence of a notoriously powerful yet elegant drummer, and the beautiful tone of the distorted guitars like tired waves crashing on the coastal rocks. When the singing starts, the noise is dialed down a bit so we can actually get to appreciate the nuances of the vocal delivery, a very effective, no-wankery, right-on-the-spot delivery.
There are some vestiges of nu-rock here, but only the good bits of that forsaken and agonizing genre that made us all so happy at the turn of the Century. Seven minutes of balls-out post-hardcore, time signatures bending and all. You hear a powerful, fearless band challenging itself, a band playing with so much conviction, you start buying their most bad-ass ever self-description (found on their bandcamp site) which reads:
FROM THE BOOK OF CYRIL SNEAR, CHAPTER 3, VERSICLES 4/5-16th:
“Cyril Snear exist for nothing and no one else, content to lurk in the margins, to push, probe and satisfy their need for sonicexploration.They’re a band that emerges from Manchester’s cultural catacombs only when they feel they’ve a definitive statement to make.”
Man-chest-hair they said? Not to worry, you won’t have to withstand an hour of yet another Brit band trying to pose as The Smiths or any of that old and tired bollockery, this is music for us lads who just want to trip on something proper, no questions asked.
Seamlessly, a second beautiful number starts where the previous track left off: ‘How Presidential of You’ is a gorgeous proggy routine and an exercise of using the best features of the music you grew up listening to and turning them into something new and interesting. It’s a great example of: “monkey see, monkey improve upon”. Heck, I can hear bits of Led Zep, Rush (minus the obnoxious vocals), AC/DC, Shiner (again!), Unwound and even a slight pinch of early Aero (don’t laugh) smith. Just add a little bit of math-rock jazzing on good cocaine and you get the picture, homies. Mates, I mean… ehem.
Next up is an eargasm of a song named ‘Confabulation’. By the intro, you’d think these guys have stopped to catch their breath on track 3, but they just happen to do so at 100mph and presenting a brilliantly endless stream of rollercoaster-like spins and turns just to see what happens. This is one of those records which only get better song after song, and it becomes apparent by this point that Cyril Snear really enjoy making music for themselves, avoiding ideological posing and surrendering to textural experimentation but always in favour of song structure. ‘Multiple Mono’ and ‘Butterflies’, the next two songs, follow the same dynamic of arpeggiated parts leading into explosive choruses and bridges to no end more than satisfactorily (fuck, I bit my mind’s tongue on that one: satisfactorily… blah!)
Popular favorite ‘FIFTY FOUR’ (presumably titled thus because of its 5/4 time signature… busted, fellas!) carries on to show how jazzy chops can be used to create beautiful and imaginative soundscapes, never forgetting about the momentum building atmosphere which seems to power this band. This is Cyril at their most post-rocky and a good song to play to your friends and grandmas when recommending this band to them (which you totally will). If Porcupine Tree ever arrive at drinking age and grow goatees, this is what they’ll probably be listening to. Ah, what a memorable riff during the eight minute of this song! More ups and downs and tricky changes, these guys know no limit to their instrumentation.
‘Band Width’ is a beautiful way to land the plane at maximum speed, a great 3 minute jam which falls perfectly in sequence with the rest of the album before taking off again into uncharted time signature territory with yet another highlight ‘Professor Metcalfe In The Room With The Truth’, a brutal and exciting journey into the possibilities of dynamic range within a song and drum fills floating on top of diminished chords.
After the ordeal, we find a place to replenish with ‘Focus’, a wonderful atmospheric piece which shows these guys still have enough fuel to take us along for the rest of the ride. At this point, you’ve either entered the alpha-wave generator region of your brain or you need to start watching this film again, only this time knowing what to look for. Enter ‘Dynamics’, which is both an epilogue to the first two acts of the album and an introduction to the final chapter. This is where the band gets off-stage for a second, get drinks, and come back in relaxed-fit clothes to give us ‘The Riot of Colour’, or as I call it: 2013’s Pantone of cool floaty chords.Abstract-rock at its best and a damn worthy title track. Then comes ‘The Weight’, where the Cyrils give us a full final dose of ear-candy, a song that in spite of its title makes us feel lighter, and full of nostalgia too, with its impossibly built momentum finally letting go of our hand over an ocean of violins.
Finally, I think everyone with a functional PayPal account and a love of music should fucken buy it. As in NOW, Y’ALL!
Words: Air Nest Vera