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Citizen Cain - Playing Dead

Citizen Cain - Playing DeadWe have been waiting over four years for this album but it has been well worth the wait.  Citizen Cain are a rare breed – a prog band from Scotland, and feature Stewart Bell (keyboards/drums), Cyrus (bass/lead vocals) and Phil Allen (guitars/backing vocals).

Playing Dead finds Citizen Cain in renewed strength after their previous release, Raising The Stones, which I felt was just going through the motions.  Whilst Raising was a departure from their traditional Marillion/Genesis influenced sound it didn’t capture my imagination and attention the way that the earlier Serpents In Camouflage and exceptional Somewhere But Yesterday did.  Playing Dead is the result of further development of the Citizen Cain sound.  Cyrus’s vocals will always be reminiscent of Peter Gabriel and therefore Genesis but the music can no longer be directly compared to Genesis.  Yes, there are the occasional Genesis references along with Tull and The Enid-like snippets but that apart it is all new.

The eerie opening track, Dirge – Fallen Angels, is a powerful masterpiece almost classical in approach, a touch of The Enid, almost Crimsonesque in complexity of simplicity.  And thus sets the standard for the album.  Can this be about eventual doom and disaster, our self-crucifixion?  It would take time to fully analyse the lyrics for there are many, in biblical proportions one might say.  “It is not true that we come to this earth to live, we come to sleep, only to dream” is the quote from Aztec before the start of track four, Falling From Sephiroth-Etz Ha-Chayim.  They cannot be accused of not being thought provoking.  It’s not only the lyrics that are thought provoking.  The music composition and arrangement demand concentration – this is not background music.  The band gel in a way that they haven’t done before, not doubt helped by Phil Allen’s terrific guitar work allowing Cyrus and Stewart to do what they do best throughout the 70 minutes.

Can we expect any live performances of Playing Dead I wonder?  Obviously Stewart cannot play keys and drums at the same time so it would mean either extensive use of computers or the acquisition of a keyboard player or drummer (I have no qualms about Stewart’s playing of either instruments on this album).

Playing Dead is the strongest Citizen Cain album to date. The Citizen Cain website has MP3 clips for download if you need persuading further.

Jem Jedrzejewski


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