ReviewsGrin Cynic – Grin Cynic (Pavement Entertainment)

Grin Cynic – Grin Cynic (Pavement Entertainment)

Stories often help sell brands – and bands. In the case of Grin Cynic, they started in the late 1990s through singer/songwriter/guitarist Mike Lee, making noise in their home area of Orlando, Florida enough to record a debut album in Demonstration. Although playing CBGB’s and touring ensued, the band would break up – Mike feeling the desire years later to resurrect the group with former singer Marc. Unfortunately Marc would suffer a stroke and eventually pass on, but he gifted Mike a book of his poetry/lyrics, leading to a new lineup that would pay tribute to this second chance at life. Which now leads us to this self-titled album, a sturdy set of guitar-driven songs that straddle the lines of post-grunge, alternative hard rock, and groove metal with some soulful, bluesy melodies stirring the pot.

A thick guitar tone permeates the aural landscape for the group – incorporating the overdrive of bluesy hard rock and metal with some slick rhythmic, groove components. Most listeners will be hard pressed not to sway or do that slight head nod up and down to the main riffs within “All For Nothing” and “Cover the World” – the former also elevated by the steady supply of kinetic snare to double kick accents. You just feel this dirty swankiness that comes from a host of 80s/90s sounding influences – the emphasis of killer multi-part vocal harmonies during key verse/chorus parts on “Eyes Like 45s” outstanding, while the slower, mystical atmosphere in the chord progressions as well as marching strains puts “Caught in the Middle” into that darker, deeper terrain that many metalheads treasure. Mike possesses that vital voice from another world – incorporating a mix of southern swagger next to Chris Cornell-like power, taking these songs into that next level appreciation stratosphere. The occasional stunted use of staccato-oriented parts elevates “Hold On” to a back half standout, the commercial as hell chorus sure to go down a storm when aired live.

Grin Cynic probably has the biggest appeal to those who like the commercial side of post-grunge, bluesy oriented hard rock, or music that just has this down to earth emphasis that can go down well in a packed bar as easily as a larger, diverse festival for thousands. Glad to see them back on the scene, maybe this second go around could launch them into another level of respect or success.

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8.5 / 10