Friday, December 8, 2017

Cyborg Asylum - Never Finished, Only Abandoned (2017)

Written by Stephen Bailey, posted by blog admin

Cyborg Asylum’s debut full length Never Finished, Only Abandoned heralds the arrival of a major new force on the alternative rock/industrial scene. This isn’t your typical mishmash of electronic embellishments, guitar histrionics, and overwrought tortured lyrics – instead, there’s an artistic standard the duo aspires to here that goes well beyond by the numbers industrial alt rock and, instead, brings a level of imaginative sophistication to a genre that, unfortunately, has too often settled for going through the motions and relying on tired tropes. There’s none of that here. Instead, Cyborg Asylum has crafted a release that speaks from an intensely personal space while also providing an entertainment experience that a widespread audience can enjoy and relate to. Never Finished, Only Abandoned is a profound and powerful outing for a duo who will likely be around for years to come.

 The album has quite the opener with “Blitz”. It’s the first song written for the project before David Varga recruited John Tumminia to add his vocal and lyrical touches and it’s a near cinematic instrumental complete with sound effects that further thicken its atmospherics. Tumminia’s first contributions come with the second song, “Synergy”, and the song is further strengthened by the contributions of guitarist Phil Jones. The latter’s guitar wizardry expresses itself in a variety of ways and never embraces a paint by numbers cookie cutter approach to complementing the duo’s industrial alt-rock overtones. “My Metallic Dream” and “Weightless” are, likely, the most accessible numbers on Never Finished, Only Abandoned and mixing the duo’s industrial influences with genuine excellent melodies makes for an interesting stew sure to garner much attention and praise. Even if you aren’t familiar with the genre, as a whole or in part, Cyborg Asylum’s approach to their music affords casual listeners an opportunity to latch onto what the duo is doing thanks to tracks like this.

The brisk pace of “Steampunk Highway” propels a track more electronically driven than industrial and Tumminia’s vocals arguably hit their peak moment with this performance, particularly on the chorus. Never Finished, Only Abandoned’s longest track “Asymmetry” begins with an expertly recorded drum pattern that the duo spices up with some sustained sheets of synth sound. Tumminia turns in another strong vocal brimming over with the same atmospherics we hear in the backing track and shows the same potential for exploiting unexpected turns to the audience deeper into its web. The distorted guitar crunch just under the surface of the mix is a further addition that strengthens the tune. It’s the album’s longest song, by far, but never comes off as a six minute plus outing. “Paradigm Shift” is the album’s final curtain and it seems to bring together the various musical strands of the album into one track while ramping up the close, intimate vibe and spiking the pace. Never Finished, Only Abandoned would be an admirable second or third album from any outfit, but the fact that this is a debut effort is all the more impressive.

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