Sound — 8
Up until 2 weeks ago, I'd lost interest in whatever Djent band was being thrown out of whatever country. After going over every djent band I had encountered, I've noticed that there is little to no variation between most of them. Yes, that's right, it's only been 3 years and already the entire genre has started to stagnate (where's TesseracTs debut, eh?). I've been following the major bands like TesseracT and Textures who have gone under some change since their conceptions as is the way of 'artist/music maturation'. However, other bands like Fellsilent, Veil of Maya and *retch* Structures... Have already started to base the idea around metalcore and deathcore (rather than the other way round which is what the intention is) which are both already wearing out their presence. I can't really say anything bad about the musicianship (you'd have to be superfeaks of science to play most of it), but whoever thinks jumping on the newest bandwagon with the same idea as everyone else is groundbreaking probably doesn't deserve recognition.
In come those crazy Dutch. Textures have already made a name for themselves by setting a sort of template for it all. Now there's Cilice. What's been lacking in Djent bands is room for passion or soul, key ingredients in any music. It's a showcase of rhythm and mathematics which is monotone and naturally repetitive. Cilice shows that this is the closest we are going to get to fuse the two together.
To begin with, compared to most djent/prog bands, Cilice isn't the most technically proficient band in this wave. The rhythms employed are rather simplistic and are easily layerable on a 4/4 rhythm, which is still a feat in itself when trying to reach the heights of 23/16. But it's because of this somewhat simplicity that makes you focus on the atmosphere conveyed through the every shifting guitar patterns, melodies and vocal skyrocketing.
A deranged head-trip indeed. Cilice use rhythms that, although easy to follow, when piled all together totally spin your mind. The SikTh-esque switch from vocal style to vocal style and the naturally occurring groove from the rhythms just give make listen, either out of compulsion or intrigue. A song to really try sample this sound is the aptly named 'Mental Breakdown'. While all suitably chaotic at one end, it's possible to find moments of transcendent calm here and there.
There are all the usual flaws, as with every new djent band. In this case it seems to be the unbalanced feeling between melody and the riffs. Listening to Meshuggah with an actual talented singer and not a growly/screamy type is not a concept meant for human ears. It's like two polar opposites colliding in an awkward tumble. While Cilice do both ends of the spectrum well, it's still a way off from fusing the two successfully.
Lyrics — 7
Djent bands either have very talented vocalists or very unremarkable ones. For example, Textures has (or had) one of the most diverse vocalists in metal music. Where-as on the other hand, Fellsilent tried ripping off SikTh with the two vocalist/both scream, one sings approach and are not even comparable to the worst of screamo bands.
Cilice has the closest replacement for Textures. Whoever the guy is, he has a massive vocal range in any respect, growls to screams to Christian Alvestam levels of pitch. The band knows when to use his talents for the right moments and when to keep which style at the right level. His use of the lyrics sound good, they sound like a finished product rather than a rushed afterthought.
I can't really comment on the lyrics (CD copy hasn't arrived yet and the internet is useless) but from what I can tell, they fit the general theme of 'Deranged Head-trip' and song names like 'Left hemisphere/Right Hemisphere', 'Mental Breakdown' and 'Psychotic Mindwarp' give enough hint.
Overall Impression — 9
If I could describe a comparison with bands for Cilice, it would be a combination of SikTh, Textures and possibly Killswitch Engage for a vocal influence... but as a whole, Cilice is unique for the genre.
Production wise, it's pretty much what I'd like as a standard for Djent. The guitar tone is trebly but not tinny and jagged, the bass is audible and complimentary and the drums have a fantastic tone. Mixing is again, fantastic.
If I had one thing to hate, it would just be the confused feeling that this album leaves you at the end. The constant switch (and fusion) between melody and heaviness messes with your brain for a while. But maybe it's because of that feeling that I really like it as a whole as well. Another thing to point out, which didn't really affect me much, is that the album is very short, only 36 minutes for a full album, but a 36 minute head spin is enough, right?
Songs to look out for: 'God of Lies', 'Left Hemisphere', 'Right Hemisphere', 'Mental Breakdown', 'Malice' and 'Psychotic Mindwarp'.