A CUNNING MAN - To Heal A Broken Body

A Cunning Man - To Heal A Broken Body

3 songs
14:23 minutes
***** ****


Last year started with one of the most positive surprises that have come from the metal underground in a very long time. A Cunning Man from Scotland used to be the project by multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Ged Cartwright, and the three compositions on his debut three track EP Practical Applications Of Theurgy were so out of this world that it was really hard to find the right words. Soon after the release of that EP, he was joined by guitarist Theo Le Derf, which turned the project into a duo.

The guys have been quite busy because only a good year later they are already back with their second EP To Heal A Broken Body. Once again, we get three tracks that make it to nearly a quarter hour of music, and like last time, the price of purchase is up to the listener. I have to admit that despite the new guitarist, A Cunning Manís sound hasnít changed that much. The opener Lemegeton & The Leaden Saviour is the EPís most straightforward track, but it still sounds incredibly complex. The band describes their music as melodic metal with modern classical, post rock and jazz influences, but you might as well see it as post black metal mind-melding with modern progressive rock, and all of it topped by Ged Cartwrightís nearly operatic vocals that come in the strongest Scottish accent I have encountered so far. Picatrix & The Calcine Alchemist is a bit more laid back with some quiet moments in between, giving the whole affair a certain Pink Floyd touch. The concluding Abramelin & The Silver Hand starts in a waltz-y three-quarter time, before it becomes more progressive with a certain jazz fusion touch. Sometimes there are female guest vocals, also very Scottish, courtesy of Gemma McCabe, who was also already present on the debut, and then there are some saxophone parts by Meghan Bradfort, but her contributions unfortunately drown a little in the very dense mix. By the way, all the songs are named after grimoires.

Progressive metal isnít anymore what it used to be. Therefore I am grateful to come once in a blue moon across artists that still give the word "progressive" in progressive metal any meaning. A Cunning Manís very own approach to the genre might not be for everyone, but those open to new aural experiences will be delighted with To Heal A Broken Body as much as they will be with the bandís also excellent debut.

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