By Sarah Kitteringham
Scroll down to listen to the exclusive stream of Viathyn’s new disc, Cynosure, in full. Stream available until Oct. 6.
CALGARY — Edward Mordake was a scholar and musician of unique propensity who dwelled in solitude. Hailing from England in the 19th century, he reportedly suffered from Diprosopus. The congenital disorder results in parts or the entirety of the face being duplicated on the head. It is said that Mordake’s “demon face” was that of a malignant female; according to an interview with him published in Anomalies and curiosities of medicine, it “’never sleeps, but talks to me forever of such things as they only speak of in hell.”
This disputably authentic tale, along with several others chronicling hardship and introspection, inspired Calgary power metallers Viathyn on their second full-length, Cynosure. Spanning nine songs, it is delivered through over 1,000 captured tracks recorded by guitarist and vocalist Tomislav Crnkovic in his co-owned studio Perfect Fifth. The album demonstrates impressive evolution from Viathyn’s 2010 debut The Peregrine Way.
“We did intentionally say we wanted to do things different than the first album. The first time we went through this… we were just shooting from the hip, the heart,” describes Crnkovic. On Cynosure he is joined by his band mates Alex Kot (bass), Jake Wright (guitars), and Dave Crnkovic (drums), alongside Divinity screamer Sean Jenkins, who contributes growls on five tracks as a counterpoint to Crnkovic’s unusual and powerful warble.
“We tried to cut out a lot of slower parts, we said we would play faster songs, we said we would dive into the seven-string…. We just wanted to be a little more mature about the songs.”
Compositionally, the recording is more aggressive than its predecessor. It sacrifices traditional benchmarks of power metal and favours driving, yet slow-to-peak elements of progressive music, along with homages to complex compositions. Case in point: the lovingly lifted section from “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” composed by Edvard Grieg in 1867, on second song “The Coachmen.”
“That’s the progressive side of it,” explains Crnkovic. “Our focus was more on the progressive and having ourselves build up. Some of the best parts of our songs are later in the songs, so I think people who aren’t able to sit through six or seven minute songs might miss some of the best parts,” he says.
Indeed, tracks like “Albedo” are heightened in the latter half of the song by piano. It’s here where software came in. While the traditional rock instruments were written and performed organically, the non-traditional were written and performed on the computer. Live, those additional enhancements will be delivered via “an unknown fifth member” (meaning an iPod).
The complexity and fullness is partially to blame for the lengthy gap between albums, although multiple factors interrupted the recording process. No matter. Lyrically, the record is richer for it, loosely revolving around cynosure, defined as “a person or thing that is the center of attention or admiration.”
Guitarist Wright “did about 90 per cent of the lyrics on this, and they were all pertained to a specific type of person or character,” says Crnkovic. Other tracks cover “existential” themes, and “how significant and insignificant we are.”
This is highlighted by the story of Edward Mordake, which speaks to a universal human experience of suffering and hopelessness. Not that it’s inconsequential – more unanimous. Instead of “worrying about the wrong things,” we could take solace in being one with the ether.
“There are other forces involved in our lives,” says Crnkovic, explaining that album closer “Cynosure” tackles such themes. He concludes, “It’s not religious or anything like that… we are just dust and part of this big cosmic swirl.”
Our exclusive stream of Cynosure below runs until the album’s official release on Tuesday, October 6. The album will be available from the band on CD, and Viathyn will play their official release party on December 5 at Dickens Pub with Dark Forest and Scythia.
AB, Alberta, Cynosure, Dickens Pub, Viathyn
“The Cynosure album is made up of nine huge and unique tracks; each one tells a story and is integral to the overall journey within the album. Within the tracks, you will find progressive interludes, sing-along choruses, shredding solos, grandiose conclusions, and a full spectrum of emotion. With all the blood, sweat, and tears that we put into this album, we are proud to finally present it to you in the way it was meant to be heard: in full!”
– Jake Wright, Viathyn guitarist