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Cynic - Traced In Air CD (album) cover

TRACED IN AIR

Cynic

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.14 | 406 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

SteveG
4 stars At the edge of the in between. If you're into guitar tones and tech, you know that you have listen to music that is not always going to be your cup of tea in order to find out if there's something new going on. And so it was with me when I first listened to Cynic's debut album Focus back in 1993. It was as different as people described it to be. Part death metal, part jazz fusion, robotic vocals, extremely technical and definitely progressive. I did not like the growling death metal scene but the album definitely stood out. The players were fantastic, first off, and that drew me in. I just didn't know what to make of it at the time. The band broke up one year later and every now and again I would replay this fascinating oddity. I knew the band went through several incarnations with key members Paul Masvidal, Sean Reinert, and Sean Malone over the years under various other band names that were described as more pedestrian so I really never bothered to pursue following up on them. I believe the core trio reformed Cynic in 2007 (with Tymon Kryduidenier) and recorded and released this follow up to Focus in 2008 titled Traced In Air. With the death growls toned way down and Masvidals vocals less effected by Vocoder processing than on Focus, the album struck me immediately as a compromise, which was disappointing as the group still displayed links with the jazz fusion territory they cut into on Focus and demonstrated some absolute clinics in technical proficiency on the tracks Space For This, Evolutionary, The Unknown Guest, and King Of Those Who Know. I found a more middle ground approach on TIA with a more straight up metal style drumming from Reinert (with lightning fast tom fills and his bass drumming still stunning at times when not doing repetitive obligatory bass drum death fills) but with a more mundane bass rhythm backing from Malone (very disappointing as the man is a master of the fretless when he can cut loose.) Masivdal is the star of the album with some stellar leads and the songs contained some great riffs that had a lot of muscle with addition of Tymon on rhythm guitar in addition to his growling duties. Many Prog metal fans like this album and feel that I may be have a lukewarm attitude toward it because of the little appreciation I have for death metal. The opposite is actually the truth. I may not like the restrictions of death metal but if you going to do death, than do it loud and do it proud. A middle ground album like this may not be my cup of tea but it does have many impressive moments. For starters, the production values are excellent and the sound is super dynamic without sounding compressed. The song The Unknown Guest has great primal Viking like chants instead of growls that really add to the song and give variety to the album while the song Adam's Murmur has a great start and stop rhythm structure along with a tricky dragging snare beat that really nails the song. Much of the heaviness of Focus has been replaced with lighter and more melodic hooks and riffs. Again, for me this album is a low point in between Focus and Carbon Based Anatomy EP that followed TIA in 2011. After listening to TIA again after the group released 2014's superb Kindly Bent to Free Us, my opinions have changed very little in 6 years time. Perhaps first impressions do make lasting impressions. I rank the album at 3.5 stars but that's probably more like 4.5 stars to Prog metal fans that are not such a discerning old cuss like me. And it is better than anything DT is puting out right now, so go ahead, get it and crank up the volume to eleven!
SteveG | 4/5 |

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