Earlier this year, I posted a review of one of my favorite albums of 2019, Manuel Schmid and Marek Arnold’s Zeiten. Mr. Arnold was kind enough to comment on it, and he mentioned that he and Mr. Schmid have another project: Cyril, which is a full-fledged prog rock group.
Cyril’s latest album is The Way Through, which was released last spring. It is a terrific work, showcasing the talents of Marek Arnold (keyboards, sax), Manuel Schmid (vocals, keyboards), Ralf Dietsch (guitars), Clemens Litschko (drums), Denis Strassburg (bass), and Larry B. (vocals). Guy Manning from Damanek wrote the lyrics.
The Way Through is a concept album about a man who has a near death experience. In “The Gate”, he rises above his dying body, and he notices
There is a light in the darkness here
I feel its call
I know in my heart that I must journey on
and find the way through
One step into night, one last look behind
In silence I walk
If I am to live once again I must meet my life
Head on and right the wrongs
And right the wrongs of his life he does. Each of the following three songs chronicles his efforts to atone for mistakes he made in his life. “My Own Reflection” is a portrait of him as a young boy who is near despair. His spirit gives his young self comfort and courage.
“First Love (A Lullaby)” is a beautiful song about revisiting his first love and treating her with respect and tenderness as their relationship ends.
“Get Up High” is a ferocious rocker that expresses his confusion and panic as he realizes he is trapped in a maze of trees with no direction home. Things settle down for the gentle and enchanting “A Sign On The Road”, where he has a choice to make:
‘To sleep not dream’ or “To dream not sleep’
What does it mean? Cos I must decide now
He chooses life (to dream, not sleep), and returns home to his body. But is he really alive, or still in a dream?
Cyril’s music is simply gorgeous. Arnold, Strassburg, and Schmid are responsible for the melodies, and every track shines. Arnold’s sax work is exceptionally fine, lending a jazzy touch to the proceedings. Larry B and Manuel Schmid complement each other’s vocals perfectly.
In my review of Zeiten, I stated that that album was my favorite of 2019, but I’m afraid it’s been deposed. The Way Through is now the best of the year, in my opinion. Give it a listen, and enjoy the excellent musicianship of Cyril. You will not be disappointed!
Here is “The Wasteland – Home Again”: