The Cyon Project seem confused. They don’t quite seem to know what kind of a band they want to be. Claiming influence from ‘rock to stoner to metal with symphonic sonics’, on paper this album has the potential to be stellar. Proclaiming their move away from ‘common death/thrash stereotypes’ also implies some grounding in the heavier, more aggressive end of the spectrum, adding yet another interesting ingredient into the already varied mix. Unfortunately, Tales of Pain is so far from these supposed stereotypes that no traces of death or thrash are to be found here at all. But that can be forgiven. Death metal is by no means the be all and end all; what of the other influences? Sure enough, there are diverse soundscapes on display at various different points throughout. However, very rarely is more than one musical palette employed at once, and this is the album’s major flaw. The album’s opening track, ‘Joe’, is a 3-minute orchestral scene-setter which really stirs the bones, but which fades away after its climax instead of leading into something as bombastic as the listener is geared up for, before track two abruptly begins in a whole different vein. There are true moments of brilliance strewn throughout this album, particularly when those symphonic embellishments come to the fore on tracks like ‘Rulemaker’, ‘Icarus Foretold It’ and superbly heavy album highlight ‘Englewood’s Hotel’. If The Cyon Project dedicated themselves full time to being merchants of heavy, symphonic rock, then they would have some serious clout. Regrettably, though, these bursts of orchestral grandeur often come out of nowhere, in the middle of fairly forgettable early-Nickelback-esque, grungey filler tracks. Despite what the majority of the self-respecting rock/metal community would have you believe, a comparison to early Nickelback here is not an insult in and of itself, but the fact is that it’s already been done to death. At other points, the band ape Stone Sour in their more sombre, acoustic moments (most notably on the slightly cringe-worthy chorus of ‘Sandglass’), and occasionally even burst into an up-tempo romp verging on pop-punk. Lead singer Marco Priotti also seems to be suffering from something of an identity crisis, immediately striking out with an uncanny impression of James Hetfield, which morphs between Chad Kroeger of the aforementioned, much maligned band, and Nick Holmes of Paradise Lost as the album wears on. When so many comparisons are so easy to make, it becomes clear that The Cyon Project are having trouble standing out from the pack. Ultimately, there is nothing especially bad about this album. When they are good, The Cyon Project can be excellent, but Tales of Pain’s glaring lack of cohesion means that the far too frequent sub-par moments can overwhelm one with apathy to the point that it is easy to forget the cinematic heights they attain.
For fans of: Metallica, Nickelback, Stone Sour, Volbeat