Let me be honest from the start. I don’t know who The Cyon Project are. It’s only because they sit in the stable of Stampede with bands like the mighty BlackWolf and Voodoo Vegas that I decided to give Tales of Pain a listen. I thought they couldn’t be terrible if they were among fine company like them.
That’s exactly what they are: not terrible. So that means good, right? No. It’s not an album that instantly catches me and makes me say “that’s an awesome band” after one listen of the album. It’s just sort of…there.
The album opens with “Joe” which sounds like it could have been in front of one of Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western films. Sadly, it outlives its welcome. I’m all for intro tracks either as a separate entity or tacked onto the beginning of the first song. Here, it feels dragged out, just for the sake of making an intro track.
Chunky, thrashy riffs are married with melodic elements with dark, brooding vocals. The vocals themselves are reminiscent of Andy Biersack’s, from what I’ve had the misfortune of hearing of Black Veil Brides. There are some straightforward, completely clean vocals with “Cheesy Song” but the guitar work sounds like something from Bullet For My Valentine’s last album. Given the title and instrumentation, it made me chuckle. It would be perfect for “Temper Temper”. That said, there is a weird breakdown towards the end which just sounds like Black Veil Brides before reverting to Bullet territory.
Elsewhere, the misnomer “Riot” is a far mellower affair. It’s one of the more straightforward tracks with a great rhythm to slowly nod your head along with. “Raise Your Head” is grandiose; it feels like climbing a mountain and reaching its peak, stopping for nothing and no one.
There’s also acoustic moments with “Phantom Limb”, interspersed with some plugged in snippets to flesh out the song but it detracts from the acoustic sections. Had it been a full acoustic track, it could have been a brilliant song, breaking up the pace of the album. Some acoustic tracks are phenomenal. It feels like a wasted opportunity. There’s some redemption with “Sandglass”, hauntingly sombre with powerful lyrics and vocal harmonies. While it’s a great effort, it helps to underline how great “Phantom Limb” could have been in a similar arrangement.
As much as I like an album to have variety, there’s an appreciation for a tight, consistent album too. Sometimes, you can get a balance of the two. “Tales of Pain” tries too hard to cover too much ground as if trying to channel every single one of their influences into one package. There’s hard rock, acoustic, stoner, metal, metal core with individual songs trying to cram in various genres. That being said, there’s some great talent on display, each band member prominent in their own way. If the follow up is reined in with a refined sound and a clear direction, you’d have a pretty good band to look out for.