Recently, I have been incredibly fortunate: great bands have been discovering me. Cenfora came into my life when they liked a recent review on Instagram. As with most bands that like my posts, I looked into the band. After listening to a teaser of “Planets” on YouTube I made my way to their bandcamp to pick up their album.
So, in the tradition of short semi accurate Internet blurbs: Cenfora is a young British progressive metal band. Their Facebook page was founded in September of 2016 and their first record, The Progening, was released at the end of July 2018. Seemingly, they’ve only been around for a few years.
Cenfora’s sound is largely aggressive. The instruments attack the listener furiously. The guitars crunch away while the drum hammers away, creating a very solid wall of sound. Nestled atop this chaotic plethora of sound are Katie King’s dainty vocals. The first time I heard them, I noted they resembled a juggernaut of the progressive metal world: Epica.
At times, Katie King’s voice sounds similar to Epica’s Simone Simon. To be fair, both bands employ the same strategy: a dainty, though strong, female vocals drifting above a steady wall of sound. However, in Epica’s case, Mark Jansen provides growling vocals, which add a lot texture to the band’s music. As of now, Cenfora has no other vocalists. This is in no way meant to act as a criticism. Rather, it’s just an observation.
Before I begin, I will note that I did not have access to The Progening’s lyrics while writing this review. This is due to the fact Cenfora is a young band and no one has posted their lyrics online. I feel like I can get a better sense of the lyrics when I can read them, not just listen to them. Perhaps once I get my hands on a copy of their CD I will be able to add something about the lyrics.
As a fan of the genre, I was very enthusiastic when I found a young band with an engaging sound. I snatched up a physical copy of their record immediately. The only downside to my purchase is the time it will take for the disc to arrive. Anyway, my purchase supplied me with a digital copy as well, so I was able to dive right into Cenfora’s music.
This debut album is forty-one minutes long. In this time, Cenfora offers nine songs that are intriguing, complex and fun. The Progening has all of the typical elements one might expect from a progressive metal album. The instruments are heavy when they need to be. Mitchell Barlow provides entertaining fills from his drum kit while Jake Elwell’s guitar work is slick and shiny. The vocals are strong, Their dainty style clashes well with the rest of the harsh music.
There isn’t one tune I can point to and declare the heaviest. However, I can say, “Fenrir” features a metalcore style breakdown. It is cool to hear Cenfora’s speedy rendition of this classic style. “Planets” is another song with pretty heavy moments, though I wouldn’t say it wins the title of “most-hardcore-song”.
Although I am not a fantastic judge of this, I think the album is mixed well. No one instrument is drown out by another instrument. The vocals come the closest to this, and I can still hear them just fine. The structure of the record is good as well. A couple of songs have separate introductions that build up tension nicely, though one doesn’t have to listen to them to enjoy band.
I enjoy how the band splices together riffs and drum fills. It makes for a heavy, though entirely interesting song. I like Jake Elwell’s guitar solos. They aren’t “whiney” or used on every-single-song. They are spread out and well placed.
For a truly independent release, I feel like this a great record. Everything is in order and well-polished. On top of this, it is the band’s first album. To me, The Progening is a brilliant start to an exciting career.
Songs Worth Investigating
“Catalyst”, the first proper track on the album is a great opener. It does just what the first track on an album is supposed to do: hook the listener and showcase how good the band actually is. Cenfora houses one of their secret weapons in this track: infective riffs. The primary riff throughout the song is a good mixture of bounciness and heaviness. This tears some of the moodiness away from the track while keeping it decorated with heavy notions. At one point, this riff even turns into a short, yet satisfying solo.
I like the behemoth track, “Secrets”. It weighs in at almost nine minutes. Again, this tune comes complete with a solid intro, stacked with the band’s favorite weapon: thick riffs. Katie King also lowers her voice on “Secrets”, adding a little more texture to the tune.