Red Cain – Kindred: Act II Review

Maybe you thought I was joking when I claimed the mantle of weeniedom. I do sometimes joke, after all. But now you are coming to realize that Red Cain is not a death metal band. They’re not even a black metal band. Look them up, I’ll wait. Look at the tags down there. Oh, and the score. Yeah, see, it says power metal. You know why it says that? It could be that I’m a big weenie now. That’s right. Holdeneye, Ken, Dr. Wvrm — all of you; you are on notice. I am coming for your shit.

At least until there’s death metal in the promo bin again. At that point, I hope to never listen to this garbage ever again.

On the surface, Kindred: Act II flaunts some of the worst things you could put in a metal album. I am not amused by perfectly processed, smoothed-over production. I don’t want loud synth melodies in every song. I have no interest in those melodies underpinning poppy choruses. I really would not recommend that the second cut on an album (“Demons”) devolve into a horny EDM song. None of these are good choices, even in the context of an album that explicitly acknowledges the hated Amaranthe in its promo materials. But Red Cain has something going for them that forces me to actually kind of like Kindred.

That thing is a man, that man is a singer, and that singer is Evgeniy Zayarny. Whether belting out big choruses (every song), squealing out a clarion falsetto (“Precipice of Man”), or ripping through Johan Hegg-does-Travis Ryan roars (“Baltic Fleet”), Zayarny’s performance is enrapturing. He can pull off far more than this kind of music requires and gives off the uncanny feeling that the rest of the band are under his total control. When he wants to sing full blast, the band reverts to that awful hard rock/EDM mixture, but it works for him. When he wants to be a barrel-chested warrior, out comes the Amon Amarth riffs. He even pulls the band — quite successfully — through the bizarre “Sons of Veles,” which I can only describe as “Kamelot meets Winds of Plague at the club.” In his greatest trick, he turns Red Cain into Opeth for a moment in closer “Sunshine (Blood Sun Empire).” Yes, the baseline is still something like Amaranthe, but if Amaranthe fired all eight of their vocalists and replaced them with Zayarny, I would probably kind of like that, too.

Those familiar with (read: long tired of) symphonic metal would expect Red Cain’s heavy reliance on vocals and electronics to relegate Tyler Corbett (Guitars) and Taylor Gibson (Drums) to perfunctory roles. But not so! Though their playing is trampled on a few of Kindred’s more synthetic songs, the two find spaces to make themselves known. Corbett delivers a remarkable solo with spunk and a hint of Latin rock in “Varyag and the Shrike” and pulls and pinches what should be stock rhythm riffs into bristly, thorny things, an approach that Gibson’s drumming follows. What’s more, Corbett and Zayarny’s heavy-handed production is never arbitrary. All the effects they pipe the vocals through and all the sudden cuts and new instruments that appear from nowhere are there to serve the song at that moment and almost always hit the mark.

Unlike me, you are not in any way obligated to listen to this record. In fact, I’m barely obligated to spend time with it. If I really didn’t care for it and didn’t have anything interesting to say about it, I’d do what I usually do; sneak past the dozing Steel and throw it back into the pit whence it came.1 Despite my every aesthetic conviction, I kind of like it. And furthermore, I don’t really mind listening to it. Zayarny is a powerhouse vocalist and the contortions he forces into Red Cain make for a very diverse record. At a glance, it’s a disorganized pop-metal collage, pasted together from a hundred old tropes and spent ideas. But the talent behind the record is undeniable, and at the very least, Kindred proved far more creative and thought-provoking than most death metal records I’ve recently tackled. You should give it a shot — even if you’re not a big weenie.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Released
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: January 22nd, 2021

Show 1 footnote

  1. I wasn’t dozing, I was passed out. – Steel
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