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Cyberiam, The: Forging Nations - Live!

First up, I really need to apologise to The Cyberium, a progressive metal outfit who call Chicago home, what with this live document of the band’s 2019 ProgStock appearance actually being released at the tail end of 2020. Such are the vagaries of life that this CD (and the band’s debut albums and EP) sat at the bottom of a huge pile of review discs until now and all I can say is that for the year that this has lain dormant I have been missing out. Not only could I have been listening to and reliving the band’s first three, excellent releases, I could also have caught up with their new album Connected, which has been set free during 2021. However, no matter how hard we try, something has to be last in the review pile and as such I kick myself - hard.

As you’ll gather from that act of falling on my own sword, The Cyberiam really are quite special. Yes, as you might expect, they pull from some familiar sources for a starting point, with Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, Vanden Plas and Spock’s Beard all evident in the sprawling live work this band produced. However, rather than simply ape those contemporaries, this outfit laid out those starting points, added deeper, grittier, if not necessarily heavier, guitar tones and hit hard, while remaining nearer rock than they do out and out metal. The band’s set consisted six tracks from their 2018 self titled debut album, with the full 21 minutes of their single track The Butterfly Effect EP slammed right in the middle. As with a lot of these prog-festival live recordings, while the crowd are enthusiastic, they come across as sounding sparse, even though the pictures would suggest otherwise. But the sprawling romp of “Alice In The Afterlife” fills that void and then some, before “The Fall” marries memorable vocals from Keith Semple - think a less nuanced Geddy Lee - to impactful guitar work (also from Semple) and a clever lightness of touch from behind the keyboard courtesy of Frank Lucas.

For all their exuberance - and this band are exuberant - it’s arguably the slow paced “Nostalgia”, where a spoken word intro, strum of acoustic guitar and some piano set a tone that stays long in my memory - just as nostalgia should, I suppose. If ever a song was well titled, it’s this one right here but that the warm fuzzy feeling of memories remembered, and friendships allowed to flit away never becomes cloying or contrived shows the class at this band’s disposal. The rhythm section may be slightly more subdued here - although there is a bold bass solo from Brian Kovacs - but he and drummer Tommy Murray really do let fly on what is arguably this performance’s centre-piece. Twenty minute songs in the prog-metal arena may not be as rare as they arguably should be, but when they are as captivating as The Butterfly Effect, then who cares?

From there, what must have been seen as a festival highlight performance is capped off by the slowly surging “The Historian”, before “My Occupation” offers a more serious change of tone. The Cyberiam proving as adept at presenting tightly arranged pieces that strike at the core of their target as they are more playful prog-epics. “Don’t Blink” closes proceedings in an angry but controlled crescendo that once more illustrates this band’s ability to combine atmosphere with a powering performance in a completely believable manner.

I may be late, and later than I might have been, to The Cyberium movement, but you can now count me as a firm follower of this band. I’m off to check out their latest release and you should too, right after you’ve snapped up this scintillating live CD!

Track Listing
1. Alice In Afterland
2. The Fall
3. Nostalgia
4. The Butterfly Effect
5. The Historian
6. My Occupation
7. Don’t Blink

Added: October 29th 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: The Cyberium @ bandcamp
Hits: 598
Language: english

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