Luddite Clone rattled cages and turned heads in their 365 day career. With swirling guitars, stop-and-go blasts of percussion, and a knack for injecting unpredictable spins on riffs, they stretched their vein-poppingly mapped out necks above most of their peers - enough so as to label them in the same category as bands like King Generator and Botch, who hit the scene in a frenzied gallop lopping off heads left and right through springs of pressurized arterial spray only to disappear over the ridge and never be heard from again, leaving fans of the band and the genre salivating for just...one...more...release - just to hear what it sounds like goddammit! And if you've heard Luddite Clone then you can't deny that a key ingredient to their being one-off stars in the grimey lime light and somewhat of a post-mortem cult phenomenon was vocalist Andrew Cummings' truly pissed off transference of abhorrence in his vocals - as though you could almost feel the spittle and taste the venom execrating from his most-likely-from-the-sound-of-it disease ridden mouth. Years ago, amidst a musically stagnant couple of months - I found myself on a bit of a ghost hunt within the murky depths of internet music sites, one link led me to another, and to another and so forth - each becoming more minimalist in it's cosmetics; until I stumbled upon the arc of information I'd been hoping to find - that two of Luddite Clone's ex-members were breathing life into a new animal; and one of them was Andy Cummings. Thus Kiss The Cynic became a blip on my radar.
Kiss the Cynic formed from the ashes of both Luddite Clone and As Darkness falls. To my knowledge the self-titled 6 track EP has only become available through Itunes within the last year or so. As information and demos stopped appearing from the band's social networking sites and the disc wasn't available anywhere to buy online I had assumed for half a decade that the project got scrapped, only to stumble upon it available for purchase and download in yet another fit of internet-lurking boredom (I have a lot of free time). Turns out this crafty little bitch came out over ten years ago and then I'm assuming went out of print - and here I thought it was just the longest and most fucked up promotional campaign I'd ever been a victim of. If I was that guy who had to compare this album to Luddite Clone's all-too-small body of work simply because it shares two of it's members, I'd tell you that The Arsonist and the Architect was like one of those E-ticket theme park roller coaster rides in middle America. It loops and corkscrews and drops when you least expect it, wooden and rickety the whole thing could come apart at any second, but that's part of the rush - then it's over before you want it to be. Kiss The Cynic sounds like Luddite Clone in it's sonics and production value, but musically it's just one steep downhill plunge in a plastic sled, no twists or turns here. In fact, hand me an unlabled disc and tell me it's the new Luddite Clone and I'd believe you - but wonder why they decided to go so traditional in their structures. The musicianship and writing is still top notch for what it is. At about a minute and ten seconds into the first track, 'Supercharger', either guitarist Kevin Walsh or Andrew Lynch (not sure which one, they don't have dedicated speaker assignments - yet) plays an almost orchestral and elegant riff that wouldn't be alien to a John Williams score - juxtaposed against the barrage of drums and the still venemous-as-ever vocals of Mr. Cummings it definitely ups the cool factor of the EP. Many of the riffs are pretty creative but it's pretty predictable when he's going to change things up - after he plays it four times, but it's still good enough to make you look forward to what you're going to hear next. The vocal patterns add to the groove of the music and keep things just bouncy enough, especially 'Chicago Hotplate' and 'Bring Out Your Dead', where the decipherable bridge turns into an incoherrent growl in the same stanza. The fact that Kevin Hannan isn't just playing along with the guitars the whole time but doing his own thing that you can actually occasionally hear when the riffs switch gears adds a bit of a layer of complexity to it.
It's definitely a good EP, but while the whole thing drives and grooves and walks the line somewhere between hardcore, thrash, and punk it just doesn't have the emotive blast that I really dig in my music. It's an angry guy flipping over tables at a house party, instead of a rabid gorilla ripping the arms off of another rabid gorilla. But that's just me and my warped tastes (and stupid analogys). God I hate to say it, but the style reminded me a bit of a not-so-over produced Devildriver, and it's hard for me to come out and say that I know what that would sound like. Maybe a little Superjoint Ritual? Here, it's like what would happen if Burnt By The Sun got rid of all their grindy-bits. Maybe you get the idea. But I can't criticize it because it's not as extreme a record as I was expecting, and who the fuck am I to compare it to Luddite Clone? That's gotta be totally old to them already. They aren't claiming to be anything other than heavy metal or hardcore (or circus music - it says so on their facebook page). Truth is - I have this feeling that had Luddite Clone stuck around and kept doing what they were doing their fanbase would have consisted of people who are still waiting for another Calculating Infinity, because whether you like it or not there was a wake there left by their fellow New Jersey noise merchants that LC may have unwittingly been riding during their short tenure in music, before the real clones jumped on that bandwagon. Kiss The Cynic is a good EP - I do recommend it for fans of any of the bands I mentioned in the paragraphs above; as far as heavy metal or hardcore goes it's excellent, and feels real - not contrived in any way. It's $6 on Itunes - stay off the tollway for a couple of days and buy it. P.S. the sixth and final track is a recorded call to a phone sex operator, not a musical track - so in reality it's a 5 track EP. Just FYI.