Cyborg Asylum - Never Finished, Only Abandoned (2017)

Written by Raymond Burris, posted by blog admin

Formed by David Varga and John Tumminia, Cyborg Asylum is a project that’s untampered with by outside forces.  Recorded in Varga’s own Sky Box studios (as both David and John are producers themselves) and featuring no external involvement besides guitar parts written by and recorded/played by close friend Phil Jones, these guys have complete and total control of their creative destiny.  This hands-on approach to creating and writing gives Cyborg Asylum a very dynamic, passionate presence that can be heard in every corner of the band’s flagship album Never Finished, Only Abandoned. 

The record storms into existence with a tempest of screeching and whirring synths while pounding electro-beats drive every sonic rivet into place during opener “Blitz’s” monstrous, late 80s industrial workout.  Cyborg Asylum seems to be beamed in from that period between 1986 and 1996 where guitars gradually increased their prominence in industrial music (hence the eventual coining of the term “industrial metal”).  “Synergy” harmonizes riffs with keyboards line as John’s vocals cut through layers of distortion until reaching a clean, melodic hook during the chorus.  Overall, the track is along the lines of a ballad but avoids sweetness thanks to gritty guitar work, fervent beats and strong singing that reels with conviction even at its most melodic.  “My Metallic Dream” grooves on a throbbing beat, punchy bass lines and quick swipes of heavy guitar and soulful vocal harmonies.  It pulsates hard enough to please Rammstein fans but followers of mid-period VAST should be able to really enjoy the melodic aspects. 

Variety in the band’s musical arsenal is applied without warning.  If “My Metallic Dream” was a waypoint between Cyborg Asylum’s many extremes, “War Machine” throws the kill-switch in a mushroom cloud of nail-biting noise synths, mean angular guitar riffs and percussion that’s sure to incite a moshpit.  Subtleties be damned…this is as heavy as the style gets!  Instead of rewriting the same tune over and over again, “Weightless” opens with an autumnal, single note synth line paired to a searing, solemn vocal melody that’s top-shelf when it comes to the genre.  Cavernous, tremoring bass shakes the Earth beneath trippy keyboards and heady, hard rock riffs.  Tumminia’s vocals particularly shine and display the majestic highs of his register, especially during the outro where he hits his longest, strongest notes atop Phil Jones’ blistering slow motion riffs.  This song alone makes the album worth a buy. 

“Angle of Incidence” applies single chord, metallic riff strum to grandiose synths straight out of a baroque silver screen epic.  It juxtaposes and contrasts beautifully with the opening acoustic guitar groove of “Steampunk Highway” which eventually tips the scale to the meat and potatoes rock/metal that the band always carries in their back pocket.  There’s a complexity on hand here because of the guitar/cello arrangements and electronic backgrounds that makes this piece far more than simply a “rock” track. 

Throughout the remainder of the album the duo toys with both genres; individually (the dub-step hum n’ buzz of “Ion,” “Asymmetry” and “Pale Green Dot”) or with a more guitar-focused bent (“Steampunk Highway” “Fragments as Illusion”) and success never eludes them no matter what path they choose.  If it’s been too long since you’ve heard an authentic, varied and eclectic take on industrial rock/metal, Never Finished, Only Abandoned is the record that you’ve been waiting for.  There’s not a bad track in the bunch and it only gets better with repeated listens.