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Cil City – Jump Off The Cliff Award winner

Cil City
Jump Off The Cliff
by Santiago Puyol at 05 March 2019, 7:32 PM

CIL CITY are an Austrian Hard Rock band founded in 2013 as an AC/DC tribute band that quickly evolved into an original musical project. “Jump off the Cliff” is their second album, following 2015 debut “Red Ocean”, and their first with bassist Cornelia Gass and drummer Bernhard Sattra. The 8-track album features a classic sound, encompassing influences from diverse 70’s and 80’s Rock scenes, and even some Metal.

Rhythmic guitar chords and a nasty effect-laden bass intro sets the mood for the album with the title track – and doing so with aptitude. “Jump off the Cliff” has a groovy bassline and driving familiar Hard Rock drumming, trading in 70’s Hard Rock vibes and 80’s Hair Metal flourishes, especially noticeable in the great, shredding guitar solo around the 3-minute mark. Its very memorable chorus crawls right into your brain.

“She’s Rock’n’Roll” follows, evoking GUNS’N’ROSES with its soft intro, before moving into JOAN JETT territory. The chorus is almost punkish with its amazing use of power chords, while Deniz Malatyali’s vocals shine on the powerful, fun outro.

A slow-building, phaser-heavy intro throw us in the subtly political “Shout It Out”, a cry for self-expression and critical thinking. The guitar work by Hal West and Erny Hofbauer shines throughout the track; the background textures they add are mostly remarkable, building a particular atmosphere that accompanies the lyrical nature of the song.

“This Road Won’t Take Me Home” has an almost gothic atmosphere in its soft, clean guitar intro. Once the whole band enters, a melodic guitar riff emerges, evoking some of THE ALLMAN BROTHERS. Nasty bass anchors the verses while the vocal harmonies in the chorus are simply uplifting and manage to embellish the strong melodies of Malatyali (take note of that sustained note around the 3-minute mark!). The bridge of the song carries a sense of anger and desire for liberation, beautifully reinforced by the guitar solo.

The political undertones return in “Freedom”, an absolute rocker in which the mixing and production work adds a lot to the sound. The perfect use of a flanger-effect to build tension and having the lead guitar switching left and right in your speakers or headphones, truly enhance the experience. This is followed by “Fears in my Head”, the most dynamic song in the album; and also the heaviest. The shift between soft and loud sections works perfectly with its Jekyll and Hyde lyrical theme. Delicate mallet percussion touches add to the gothic vibe of the track (xylophone or maybe glockenspiel). The syncopation and playfulness of the rhythmic section on the pre-chorus highlight the chemistry between Gass and Sattra.

More soft, clean guitar playing gets “Changes” started, now with an almost AC/DC-like build-up towards hard riffing. This is another dynamic song, fluctuating between louder and softer sections, even featuring a vaguely ZEPPELIN-esque drum breakdown about mid-point. Some whispered vocals add a mysterious, almost sinister vibe to the bridge, punctuating the main vocal line.

Album closer, aptly titled “#8” is the ballad of the record and fits perfectly as the end of this 35-minute experience. Lovely clean guitars, soft percussion and bass adding depth to the song, and very passionate singing provide an intimate feel. Malatyati’s voice manages to be equal parts vulnerable and powerful in this song, balancing hope and nostalgia in the beautiful chorus, providing a good amount of chills on repeated listen. A lengthy instrumental coda serves as the album’s outro. An emotional, bluesy solo and lively percussion convey a mixture of adult longing and child-like playfulness. The mixing of the guitars at the beginning of the song is a highlight, with its soft, echoey guitar lines moving left-to-right while in crescendo.

“Jump off the Cliff” is an almost perfect hard rock album, with really tight and memorable songwriting. Each track has at least one section that will stick with you the more you listen to it; and even though it’s easier to spot the influences it never feels like it’s trying to be anything else.

CIL CITY might not be reinventing the wheel with this album, but they don’t have to. Their voice is strong, and most importantly, clearly theirs. The musicianship is quite strong overall, with potent and fierce vocals, bass and drum playing with a real sense of groove and playfulness around the beat, catchy riffing, and good-to-great guitar solos that neither feel too short nor overstay their welcome. Production is top-notch, with a rich sound and great mixing. The bass is prominent and clearly audible, but never overpowering, while the drum sound is rich, and the vocals are never too loud in the mix, flowing perfectly with the instrumental backdrop. The band uses the studio in the right way, adding creative touches to the songs without sacrificing playability, something that is useful when translating them to a live setting.

A memorable and promising record that is a highlight of 2019 for me so far.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Jump off the Cliff
2. She’s Rock’n’Roll
3. Shout It Out
4. This Road Won’t Take Me Home
5. Freedom
6. Fears in my Head
7. Changes
8. #8
Lineup:
DenizMalatyali–Lead Vocals
Hal West – Guitar/Backing Vocals
ErnyHofbauer– Guitar
Cornelia Gass– Bass
Bernhard Sattra– Drums/Backing Vocals
Record Label: GIFD Records/Preiser Records
     


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