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TRACED IN AIR

Cynic

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal


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Cynic Traced In Air album cover
4.14 | 403 ratings | 42 reviews | 46% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 2008

Songs / Tracks Listing


1. Nunc Fluens (2:56)
2. The Space For This (5:46)
3. Evolutionary Sleeper (3:35)
4. Integral Birth (3:53)
5. The Unknown Guest (4:13)
6. Adam's Murmur (3:29)
7. King Of Those Who Know (6:09)
8. Nunc Stans (4:13)

Total Time 32:54

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians


- Paul Masvidal / Guitar and vocals
- Sean Reinert / Drums
- Sean Malone / Bass, Chapman Stick
- Tymon Kruidenier / Guitar and death growls

Thanks to Yeidí for the addition
and to AskWit for the last updates
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Kindly Bent to Free UsKindly Bent to Free Us
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CYNIC Traced In Air ratings distribution


4.14
(403 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(46%)
46%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
32%
Good, but non-essential (12%)
12%
Collectors/fans only (5%)
5%
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)
4%

CYNIC Traced In Air reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by The Pessimist
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is my introduction to this very original and highly energetic band. Cynic, in a nutshell, are what i would call a cross between Unexpect and The Mars Volta. The melodies, drumming and singing remind me a lot of TMV's music, whilst the background growling and complexity remind me heavily of Unexpect (who i don't like very much, however this band I can't get enough of). The scarce number of short songs make the album come, and then go quite literally half an hour later. This is what i see as good. Crisp, in and then out, not boring in the slightest, the very same way i feel about the great Gentle Giant. However, the similarities this band have with others ends here: the music is probably some of the most energetic neo-classical extreme metal i've ever heard, all the musicians are very tightly together and the songs... well you cannot get any more interesting. They pile what seems like 60 minutes of ideas into 30 minutes, quite the opposite of what bands like Sigur Ros and Rosetta achieve. Coming from the extreme metal genre, you cannot expect an easy ride; it is just as turbulent as the rest of the bands in the category.

That is all that can really be said, apart from i would have expected a longer album after so many years of waiting, but anyways, it can't be helped. These guys are well rehearsed, write decent and inventive music and are entirely original in their ideas, putting aside the apparent influences. The length is a minor set back, and should only deter the shallowest of prog listeners. An excellent album, 4 stars from me.

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Send comments to The Pessimist (BETA) | Report this review (#183449) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Review by poslednijat_colobar
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars So surprisingly for me I download an album from sub genre I've never listened before - ext/tech prog metal.And that is the new album by Cynic - Traced in Air.At the beginning the sound was very strange for me,but after five listenings I think this album is really of high quality.The songs show the creativity by the musicians.There are no wear songs on this album.The sound is strong and contains short-piece tunes,which I think are typical for this sub genre.My favourite song on the album is The Space for This.It is really great song for me.Something that I don't like very much is the track listing.I think it could be better,excluding the first and the last song,which made the composition completed.I think this sub genre has a lot to offer in near future!

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Send comments to poslednijat_colobar (BETA) | Report this review (#183593) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, September 26, 2008

Review by ProgBagel
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Cynic - 'Traced in Air' 5 stars

A little rant:

When I first heard of Cynic a few years ago.they were long disbanded. I enjoyed the album a hell of a lot, and realized the band's 'Focus' album was one of the biggest landmarks in metal. I found it to be a completely remarkable record, but just patchy in some areas. After the reunion tour was announced I was excited..but to here news of a new album, I was not. Whenever a band gets back together after an overdue hiatus, their new album is terrible, just about every time. When I first heard the album, I couldn't believe what I was hearing, the sound of this record is something I have never heard before, even after all these years the band had something new to bring to the table, and most of this material was written around 1993-1994. The hardest part of listening to this album was knowing the previous one 'Focus' and how innovative that album was. This band put that album in the past and now I do too.

The sound of the band on this album is incredible and has one of the best production values. The album is loaded with some background effects and samples, above that is soaring guitar melodies and the intense drumming of Sean Reinhard and pompous bass work of Sean Malone. The biggest change is the biggest complaint, the vocals. After all these years, Paul Masividal can SING! He can hit plenty of high notes, sound real emotional and without the vocoder! The death growls are so unbelievably miniscule that they are sparse throughout the entire album and buried so deep that one can just not hear them. The band ditches a dissonant for a more melodic approach. Now that the music is easier to bear on the listener, the vocals are also more tuned and appealing. This album tells a story, the music intertwines and connects after a few listens. There is really no way for me to put this album down in any way. A perfect score is well deserved here. This album also accounts for the best opening and closing of all time.

Now I question myself and my low expectation for this album:

With the interesting post-Cynic Portal project, Sean Malone's solo project and his Gordian Knot project, which displayed excellent technical prowess and tight complex compositional work, Paul Masividal's and Sein Reinhard's expanding taste with the ethereal art-pop project Aeon Spoke and jazz-metal band Aghora..

.should I really even have been surprised?

Album of the year, by a disgusting margin.

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Send comments to ProgBagel (BETA) | Report this review (#191849) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, December 04, 2008

Review by Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I took a gamble with this one and was rewarded entirely-- Traced in Air is a jigsaw puzzle of complex instrumental work and songwriting, very satisfying during both its numerous aggressive and atmospheric passages.

The biggest thing this album has going for it is its musicianship-- which is first rate. Each member of the band is like a mathematician with their instrument, calibrating some sort of high-tech device with their playing. That being said-- they aren't robots; there is a classy feeling of moodiness and a sort of brooding sarcasm behind their playing, which is really cool. For a band centered around instrumental dexterity, there is also a high level of restraint here as well. The group doesn't share the spot-light because there isn't one-- no one steals the show, which means that this music is not for the casual ear waiting for a melodic guitar solo.

Although unmistakably metal, it is hardly extreme of overbearing. Vocals are an interesting combination of a subdued, but aggressive growl and a highly produced alto/falsetto. The lyrics are interesting, but are usually lost in the complexity of the songs, which means that each singer ends up becoming more of an instrument than a traditional voice-- this isn't sing-a-long music! Expect nothing but cosmic density!

For fans of instrumental music this is pretty much the total package; I have few complaints. Worthy of any metal fans attention, but especially those who enjoy talent more than soaring vocals.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 5 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

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Send comments to Prog Leviathan (BETA) | Report this review (#201651) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Review by horsewithteeth11
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Most metal bands, or even bands in general, that take an almost 15 year hiatus before coming back together to make a new album usually make one of inferior quality. That's what I had been afraid of when I heard Cynic got back together. I thought that there wasn't any way that they could hope to top the mind-blowing Focus, especially after such a long period of time. I was completely and 110% wrong. In fact, it proved me so wrong that this has gradually become my pick for album of the year in 2008. This is an album that I find myself coming back to three, four, five, and sometimes even more times every week, often multiple times in a day.

This album may not seem like a big deal to most proggers, especially since it only clocks in just over 34 minutes. However I think the length for this type of album is just right. It's a great mix of psychedelic-infused jazz fusion in a death metal setting with a touch of avant-garde. The vocals are about a 70-30 mix of clean singing and death growls respectively, which is definitely a good mix for this type of music. This is definitely a unique experience in metal. Like I said, while many of the songs are shorter, I think it helps to hold the listener's attention and feels more like the band was trying to cram 60 minutes worth of ideas into these songs. They are very, very complex jazz-fusion inspired death metal. Although while I think Focus concentrated more on the death metal and jazz aspects, this album focuses more on the psychedelic aspects of their music. Masvidal's lyrics still remain oddly soothing and beautiful, and at times almost like they were computer-generated. Kruidenier has excellent death growls which are used to great effect, even if at times it's fairly minimal. And Cynic also has one of the most accomplished rhythm sections in metal as far as I'm concerned in Malone and Reinert, even to the point where I'll sometimes go through this album just to listen to what the drums and bass are doing. The highlights for me are really tough picks, but in the end, the trio of The Space for This (with a nice spacey intro), Evolutionary Sleeper, and Integral Birth blows me away every time I listen to them.

If you enjoy metal, jazz fusion, psychedelic, or instrumental music and want something modern, complex, and wholly unique, then this should fit your tastes very well. Granted, it may take time to grow on some people in comparison to others, but it's an extremely enjoyable listen. 5 stars, and hopefully Cynic will write another album as good as this one...in less than 15 years from now.

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Send comments to horsewithteeth11 (BETA) | Report this review (#202342) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Review by Negoba
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars A Unique, Essential Piece of Space-Jazz-Technical-Prog Metal

While I will describe the sound of this brilliant band, this is a work that truly must be heard to believe. No other band sounds like this, and the elements combine so well that I have no problem saying that Traced in Air is a masterpiece of progressive Metal. If someone asked for 5 albums to describe the genre, this would be one of my picks.

The most obvious sonic feature of this band is the vocoder / computer / robot vocals. At first, this seems like a gimmick, but it actually fits the nature of the music and the lyric themes quite well. The degree of effect varies between sections, though I don't think there are any completely clean vocals, and it is often backed by a dragonvoice vocal and the combination is surprisingly effective. Over the course of the album, there are actually quite a variety of different vocal tonalities used, and they all work well.

The second, though less singular, feature of this band is the use of double-note palm muting arpeggios as the primary rhythm guitar form. That guitar speak is a technical description of the continuous chugging on the low strings that, combined with the very busy drumming, form the rhythmic basis of the music. Cynic uses this technique extensively, and the feel is at once loose, on top of the beat, but very technical and precise. Always, this feels like live humans playing off each other, never like a computer-corrected, click-track governed sterile sound that is common to the genre.

The album also features a fair bit of clean jazz chording which is extremely tasty and offsets the heavy distortion well. The guitar soloing is fluid, seemingly effortless despite some nice chops in places. All of this evokes sonic images that like the cover artwork are complexly colorful. This is a rich music, you can feel the musicians pouring their energy into the work, and unlike most death metal, the emotion they inject is not hate or anger. I feel love, fascination, fear, wonder, suffering, hope, sadness, and strength within this music, though never naked aggression.

What holds this all together is a great sense of melody. When the storm dies down and the refrain of Evolutionary Sleeper is sung in all its computer assisted glory, what hits home is the melody, one of the most basic of musical elements. This is what will bring back non-metalheads, even musical snobs who might not even venture often in rock to say: Now that's some creative music. The band has the wisdom to keep the album short, so the listener is left satisfied.

If metal has masterpieces, this is one of them. Essential for those who care about the current state of progressive music.

***Late 2009 note - this album has grown in appreciation for me to the point to think that it may be among the best prog metal albums ever made. Beautiful, deep, magical, amazing.

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Send comments to Negoba (BETA) | Report this review (#207572) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 14 years between albums is a long time. I'm so glad that they decided to do this though. Their debut was hugely influential but back when they created it they really felt out of place as there were no other bands like them. How times have changed. Reinert, Malone and Masvidal are back and we get a new (second) guitarist named Tymon who also adds some growls. The growls on the debut were too upfront for my taste, but here they have been reduced to being almost like backing vocals.The processed vocals on the debut have been replaced by Masvidal's normal singing voice which is another plus. Instrumentally this may not quite be as good as the debut but it's still amazing to say the least. I have to mention the album cover and the pictures in the liner notes. So well done. I like the lyrics too.

"Nunc Fluens" builds until drums start to dominate. Great sound ! A really good intro track. "The Space For This" is pastoral with fragile vocals before it kicks in around 1 1/2 minutes. Nice. We get a mixture of growls and clean vocals to follow. Ripping guitar before 3 minutes. Incredible tune. "Evolutionary Sleeper" kicks in fairly quickly and check out Reinert ! Vocals join in as the contrasts of heavy and more laid back continue. Amazing sound 2 minutes in. It just drifts along as the guitar solos tastefully. "Integral Birth" is heavy right out of the gate. It settles quickly though as vocals and drums start to lead the way. Heavy again as contrasts continue. Killer track !

"The Unknown Guest" builds and the drums sound fantastic in this one. Vocals before a minute. A mixture of clean and growls here. Some atmosphere 2 1/2 minutes in but the guitar comes ripping in to change that. "Adam's Murmur" continues with the contrasts both vocally and instrumentally. Another excellent song. "King Of Those Who Know" is pastoral with some guest female vocals early. It kicks in heavily and we get those contrasting vocals followed by some blistering guitar before 2 1/2 minutes.The guitar sounds so good 4 1/2 minutes in. "Nunc Stans" builds as drums pound away and guitar synths come in. Reserved vocals come in as it settles.

Easily 4 stars. Great album.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#222662) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Review by Isa
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars |C+| A great revival for Cynic.

It's easy to be suspicious of bands that get back together after a long period of being disbanded, for as others have pointed out, the output is almost always dreadful. But with Traced in Air we do in fact have a quality release from a band that has been disbanded for around decade and a half, then out of the blue reunites, produces an album, and even goes on tour for it. I wouldn't be all too surprised if this album has become so popular just because it far surpassed most peoples' expectations.

For anyone who doesn't already know, Cynic is a band that blends speedy death metal with fusion, the heavier parts being the former and the softer parts having qualities of the latter. They use many effects in their music in many ways, especially with the vocals and guitars. Their debut album Focus is considered by many extreme metal fans, especially on the artistic side, to be a staple of more intellectualized death metal, up to par with later Death and Atheist. The musicians certainly hold nothing back in showing off their musicianship, and not for the sake of itself, but for the sake of creating great music, which itself makes me have great respect for this band overall.

Also let it be noted that my rating comes more from my personal taste regarding the album. Objectively, this is a highly polished album, very few if any awkward spots, and well thought out writing and production overall. The best track is by far the second one, The Space for This, which in my mind is an instant classic of extreme metal. The other tracks, however, were not nearly as thrilling for me, though each had come very good sections. Had they all been as great as that second track, this album would be a hands down masterpiece. And after listening to this album many times the last few weeks, I don't thing they'll grow on me anytime soon.

This album is quite comparable to the band's debut. Here we have more use of clean vocals; the guttural vocals almost serve as more of a backing vocal line, rarely having any featured time. This aspect I prefer over that of Focus' somewhat below par sounding guttural vocals. What makes me slightly prefer their debut overall is how the music here has less textural variation than Focus, or at least from track to track. They overall sound all too similar to me, and I don't personally find the material as interesting overall, though I do appreciate everything that's done with the writing in logical terms.

I can see why many people are excited about this release considering the circumstances with the band and the progression in their sound. I find it an entertaining album but nothing to really write home about or listen to often enough to learn every note. If you're interested in what's happening right now with progressive extreme metal scene, or if you loved Cynic's debut and want to hear where the band has headed with their music after quite some time, this might be an album for you to check out. It'll be very interesting to hear what their next album will sound like.

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Posted Sunday, July 12, 2009

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
3 stars This album came and went pretty much unnoticed. But being a fan of both the Tech Metal genre and Cynic's debut album I was eager to hear if Cynic's comeback would be comparable to the "new wave" of Tech Metal that has been sweeping me off my feet for the last couple of years. I'm talking about young bands like for example Between The Buried And Me and Canadian Protest The Hero. After a few spins it's safe to say that Cynic's sound is nothing like the new Tech Metal. The band has more of a Space Metal approach (combination of Space Rock and some Tech Metal) which was an interesting combination at first but I felt that all the technical riffs were muted down for the sake of the overall flow, which is in my opinion a real pity since I would have enjoyed it a whole lot more. Even during the most outrageous guitar-driven moments there is always some mellow atmospheric sound that keeps it all from not sounding as exciting as the guitar work would suggest.

This album just never clicked with me the way Focus did so I rarely listen to it although it's, by no means, a bad release. There's just so many different combinations that have been applied to the Tech Metal music in the last couple of years and couple of them do in fact bring something new to the table (Opeth, Unexpect) while others tend to sound like the continuation of the experiments that were conducted by Atheist, Death and Voivod in the early heydays. This one unfortunately fits into the latter category for me.

**** star songs: Nunc Fluens (2:56) The Space For This (5:46) Evolutionary Sleeper (3:35) Adam's Murmur (3:29) King Of Those Who Know (6:09)

*** star songs: Integral Birth (3:53) The Unknown Guest (4:13) Nunc Stans (4:13)

Total rating: 3,64

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Posted Sunday, December 13, 2009

Review by JLocke
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A wonderful piece of modern Prog Metal.

Wow. I have to say, I didn't really know what to expect when I picked up this album from my local FYE. However, there was only one copy left, and I had heard plenty of good things about Cynic, so I took a risk and bought the album prior to hearing any Cynical material. One of the best musical decisions I have ever made.

When I first listened to Traced In Air, I actually didn't care much for it. I'm not sure what I was wanting it to sound like instead, but the incredible originality of this music at first caused me not to enjoy it. Not because it was original, of course, but because it was so different from any other album in the genre. So, it was only until many months later when I decided to force myself to sit down and listen to the whole thing from start to finish that I finally understood what all the fuss was about. This truly is incredible.

My three favorite songs would have to be ''The Space For This'', ''Evolutionary Sleeper'' and ''Adam's Murmur'', though every single track on this record is brilliant. It has no weal point. Odd, really, since like I said I didn't understand why people dug it so much initially. Just goes to show that returning to music you may not have enjoyed on the first go 'round is highly beneficial, and almost insisted, especially with this genre of music.

So what makes it Progressive? Well, since it's Metal, I can understand this question being asked, but when compared to the rest of the generic Metal music that is out today, the originality of Traced In Air becomes clear. Instead of single note, palm- muted strumming constantly, the rhythm guitar duties are occupied just as much by Jazz chords, old-school Prog-Rock progressions and long periods of moody silence. In most typical Metal music being made right now, it seems the guitars are always present, and always playing in the same style. To the point when they begin to crowd the rest of the music. Not with Cynic. These guys have a very eclectic musical taste, and it shows very prominently.

Another feature commonly associated with super heavy music of this type would be the cookie monster-style growling vocal. Again, there is a nice mixture of high, soft and melodic singing along with what you would expect. So rather than dancing to only one tune, there are several directions these guys go in, and they do it quite frequently. This makes the music much easier to digest, and not nearly as overly-brutal or in-your-face as other Metal acts may be to some people. I strongly recommend this gem of modern Jazz-Metal (because that's what it is!) to anybody with an open-minded attitude about Metal. If you've been trying to get into this side of the music spectrum, but still haven't found the right outlet, this may very well be the record for you. Melodic, heavy, dark and beautiful, Cynic's Traced In Air is a wonderful contradiction of sound and attitude. All of these varied moods seamlessly flow together, and make this album a very worthy purchase for anybody willing to take a little walk into unusual heavy territory.

Happy Listening.

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Posted Thursday, February 25, 2010

Review by The Sleepwalker
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Cynic is a band with a very distinctive sound, blending progressive death metal with jazzy passages, highly complicated song structures and pretty unusual vocals. Fourteen years after their first studio release, Focus, Cynic decided to return with this album: an astonishingly technical release that leaves me ultimately cold.

Despite this, i can still name a lot of the album that I do like. The band proves to be one of a kind with their distinctive style. Very notable are the vocals, which vary from fierce growls to the futuristic, robotic sounding vocals. Also, the musicianship is nothing less than excellent. Highly technical song structures with riffs and passages that go everywhere. That sounds good, but I'd also like to point out that things feel overly dynamic. The album is a constanty exploding, and therefore lacking a constant flow. This is excactly why I find the album to be somewhat tiresome (and therefore uninteresting) and feel it tends to drag.

Somewhat enjoyable, but in the end tiresome, those are my main thoughts on this album. If you're looking for some highly technical extreme metal, you might enjoy this. If you want the album to have a nice flow rather than being 34 minutes of non-stop climatic moments, you might like this album much less. Anyway, despite my negative words, I don't find Traced In Air to be a really bad release, it just fails to enjoy me as much as some other music does.

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Posted Monday, May 03, 2010

Review by JJLehto
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Well, when I first heard about this album I was quite excited. Also slightly worried what it would be like after such a long gap. Well? It turns out both were correct. This album does have some strong points, not to mention the technical and intricate music that we would've expected. However, I was a bit disappointed with the album. I try my best not to compare albums, so I took some time off, but after more listening I can say I am not comparing this album to "Focus". "Traced in Air" is simply not that great.

Nunc Fluens. Frankly pretty boring. The guitar work is mainly just screechy noises, (though the drumming over the middle part is pretty cool). The end is the only part I really enjoy.

The Space For This. Begins really mellow, but kicks in soonish. Has some nice layered vocals, with clean over growls. While it sounds cool, it always does. I suppose what I'm saying is, a bit played out in my book. The solo in the middle is pretty great. Lots of technicality and melodicism in the song.

Evolutionary Sleeper. Same as above.

Integral Birth. Starts off cool, followed by a melodic part, some strange clean singing over growls, repeat.

Staring to notice a pattern? Well, that may be because pretty quickly this album starts to taper off. It's one of those dilemma's...if it is good music, then it's not bad if it all more or less is the same? As is often the case with album's like that, every song on here is good. None are standouts, and none are low points. So I will say this about "Traced in Air". It has some great musicianship. Technical, complex and intricate guitar passages, great drumming that perfectly matches the music. Honestly, the music is pretty brilliant.

However, here are some problems. The vocals are very difficult. Like with "Focus" they are not clean vocals per se. They are still those robotic vocals. Not all the time, there is plenty of natural singing but overall the clean vocals, (both of them) just sound awful. The sound of the guitar is different. I was going to say strange but it's not, just different. With this release Cynic took a step even farther away from death metal. In fact they took a step from metal in general. It's still there though. They also seemed to have moved a bit from jazz, though it as well is still there. Cynic appears to have moved in a truer progressive direction. This album has a very spacey feel to it. Also, while I am not a stickler for production, (unless its terrible it has no sway on me) the production here is one other issue. It is not bad, but strange. I'm sure its what they wanted, but I have a tough time hearing all easily, sounds like a bit of a mess.

So, what to say about this spacey, jazz-metal album? It has the essential musicianship we'd expect from Cynic, but is overall slow, and drags often. It was physically difficult for me to listen to. Not great, not bad. The pros dont really outweigh the cons or vice versa. Therefore I give "Traced in Air"

Three Stars

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Posted Friday, June 04, 2010

Review by Andy Webb
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Site and Forum Admin
5 stars Blown away by complexity, mesmerized by simplicity.

Traced in Air, Cynic's second debut after being formed 21 years prior, is a valorous effort after the impressive Focus debut. Fantastic instrumental pieces, that trippy vocoder sound, and just beautiful music all together, there is little doubt this album is 5(+) stars. Immediately after being added to my collection, it became one of my favorite prog metal album out of ALL of my albums (which are a lot).

Nunc Fluens is a nice and short little opener, with a building sensation that crescendos near the end into a fantastic instrumental section with subtle background vocals. Right of the bat 2 minutes in, I'm hooked.

The Space for This starts off slow with great melodic guitar, and Masvidal's "vocals" come in. Very progressive, very nice, very epic. Soon it breaks into what we love about Cynic: some jazz fusion epicness. The whole track is amazing, great lyrics, great guitar work, that epic bass, and amazing drums (I am a drummer, I tend to pay special attention to that!).

Evolutionary Sleeper is easily the best track on the album. Similar to the previous track, melodic guitar opens, then breaks into a slightly distorted sound with some amazing instrumentation.

Integral Birth is a slower song once you get into it, after the intro, and into the verses. The chorus is catchy, with a very nice sound going with the guitar. It is very similar to much of Misha Mansoor of Periphery's outside work with bands such as Haunted Shores, as well as the band Scale the Summit's guitar sound.

The Unknown Guest opens similarly as the rest, a great riff, then breaking into harder riffs and more jazzy-fusion-y sections.

Adam's Murmur opens with a vocal piece this time, but then opens into the traditional sound like the rest of the album. There's a melodic chorus, but other than that the track doesn't stick out like Evolutionary Sleeper.

Kings of Those Who Know is the longest track on the album (running just over 6 minutes), with a nice melodic guitar-synth sound and a chorus coming in early on. It is definitely one of the better tracks on the album. Fantastic transitions, fantastic instrumentation, fantastic everything!

Nunc Stans closes the album with slower melodies and riffs, but is still a fantastic track.

Overall, the album is fantastic. Vocoded vocals give Masvidal's vocals (if he has any) that nice touch of experimentalism and his creative guitar playing is a great sound. All the songs are catchy and have great instrumentation. The album is just fantastic. If you see a copy and do not own it, buy it immediately!

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Posted Saturday, October 16, 2010

Review by Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars 'Traced In Air' - Cynic (10/10)

Back in 1994, progressive metal band Cynic disbanded, leaving a string of demos and a debut which has since gone on to be considered a classic of the genre. Suffice to say, with the band members moving onto different projects, in seemed as if this band would go down in history as being a one-album wonder; the sort of act that metalheads could speculate over for years, wondering what other great albums could have come to fruition, had the band simply stayed together. A good twelve years pass, and it is announced finally that these pioneers of 'jazz metal' have decided to get back together, and another two after that before this, their second album would hit shelves worldwide. Although fans would have every right to worry whether or not the follow-up to their beloved 'Focus' would be worth the wait, Cynic's comeback effort 'Traced In Air' not only matches the intensity and intelligence of 'Focus', but rather triumphs over it, creating a record that would be otherwise perfect, were it not for its somewhat disappointing brevity.

Back are the technical riffs, ethereal atmospherics, jazz inflections and distinct 'robot' vocals that made 'Focus' such a unique organism back in the day. However, with plenty of time now for each musician to develop a more distinct sound for the band, 'Traced In Air' does feel like the album the band was meant to make. Technically vicious, progressive, and- surprisingly enough for a band labelled as death metal- some beautifully done melodies. Although there's no question while listening to any song on 'Traced' that it is well-fitting of the technical and progressive labels, project mastermind Paul Masvidal has a very melodic side to his music here that really props the act onto another level entirely. While each composition is tightly arranged and sharply delivered with solos, scales and all, there is the sense that beyond the metal madness are pieces of songwriting that could easily be transposed into heartfelt pop songs. Have no fear though; while the melodies are memorable and even 'catchy', there's nothing but complexity and depth to the instrumentation and arrangement of this album.

Something that is sure to be a divisive point among fans will continue to be Masvidal's signature harmonized vocorder vocal work. While comparisons have been made to that of a 'robot' or even as far as being labelled as blatant auto-tune, Paul makes it clear in the more subdued moments of the record that his voice is emotive and sharp regardless of any technologies. The use of a harmonizer in his voicework stands as a creative decision, and considering the rather spacey feel of the album, it does work well. Although the band has been called 'death metal' quite often in part due to the band's intermittent use of growls in the past, it is mostly clean singing here, which is quite a bit better done than the somewhat sparse growls of Tymon Kruidenier on the album, which feel at times quite out of place in the album.

In terms of musicianship, there's no surprise here; great performances from these legends, as well as some incredible guitar riffs and solos. Sean Reinert's drumwork does not feel as if it is done a complete justice however; some of Reinert's best moments here are during the jazzier sections, but it is a bit difficult to make out the details sometimes under the constant psychedelic effects and guitar-driven nature of the album.

A highly philosophic and intelligent metal album that could even be said to weave its way into the spiritual realm, there is no doubt that 'Traced In Air' is among the best metal albums released in its decade, although it will certainly be panned by the most 'true' metalheads wanting nothing more from this band than growls and 'evil' riffs. The only thing that keeps the album from being truly perfect is that it always ends far sooner than I would like it to. At only over the half hour mark, it almost always feels like a journey that could have done with at least another ten minutes of the same quality added onto it, considering the fourteen year wait. However, brief as it may be, Cynic has released another classic with 'Traced In Air'; this will be an album that will be listened to by metalheads decades from now, mark my words.

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Posted Friday, February 25, 2011

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The first time I spun this album I was confused about the music as it was so complex for me at the beginning. As I was so curious about Sean Malone's technical capabilities with his chapman stick, I kept spinning it many times and it surprisingly grew on me. One thing I can say about this album is that the whole album sounds like a one track to me as many times I realized when I tried to re-spin I was not aware that the music listening session reached to track 5 without I really noticed when the transition between one song to another. It's quite well understood as the music this album offers is basically containing many changes in nuances from complex music arrangements that sometime changes dramatically into silent parts.

The album contains many textures and soundscapes like demonstrated from the opening track Nunc Fluens (2:56) where the intro part indicates atmospheric session followed with floating drumwork. It's really a great opening. It a short track but it sets the whole nuance of the album. The transistion to next track does not sound noticeable as the first track suddenly stop followed with guitar fills that opens up second track The Space For This (5:46) where the nuance changes differently from previous track. This second track is really excellent. I like the drumming work and the combined clean and growling vocals augmented with stunning guitar work. I think this kind of music is something that I never heard, it's so unique. The guitar solo is so stunning!

Evolutionary Sleeper (3:35) also starts with guitar fills and I do not notice that it changes to another track. The music is similar with previous track but it does not make me boring. There are great stops as the music flows. For some reason it reminds me to Mars Volta sorts of music / style. The other remaining tracks are excellent - all of them: Integral Birth (3:53) -- I like the drumming part; The Unknown Guest (4:13); Adam's Murmur (3:29); King Of Those Who Know (6:09); and Nunc Stans (4:13).

I think this album is really an excellent music offering from Cynic even though the album is short in duration. But the music is truly great! It's different than the other kind of music with metal elements. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Posted Sunday, October 09, 2011

Review by Starhammer
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Integral Rebirth...

I first saw these guys supporting Opeth along with The Ocean back in 2008. I liked what I heard, and promptly decided to check out their début release, 'Focus'. I don't remember much about it other than it stayed in my music collection for about one day, the reason being that it scared me! Well not exactly, but I remember finding the combination of album art and album sound to be very unsettling. It might sound a bit ridiculous, it is a bit ridiculous, but music can be surprising sometimes.

I pretty much forgot about Cynic for a couple of years after the 'Focus' incident, but after reading the glowing reviews enjoyed by 'Traced in Air' I decided to revisit this artist. I'm not sure whether my taste in music has adapted that much or 'Traced in Air' is simply more accessible, but I do actually enjoy listening to it. The sound is quite unique, and has an almost ethereal quality to it. The album is very short by today's standards, at just over half an hour its the equivalent of a modern EP, but I think this is to its credit as I find tech-metal is best enjoyed in short, concentrated bursts.

The only thing that I don't enjoy about 'Traced in Air' is the vocals. The growls seem weak, and the autotuned clean sections can get a bit irritating after a while.

The Verdict: A solid release that is likely to receive polarised opinions, so certainly worth checking out for yourself.

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Posted Friday, November 04, 2011

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Cynic's Traced in Air is a quick, stimulating blast of intelligent and intelligible technical metal. Most of the music is a labyrinth of cacophonic yet orderly passages. The electric guitar tones remain tasteful throughout, while the bass and drummer are in synch and amazingly constricted in their executions of complex musical transitions. The growling serves as a supplemental vocal that fills out the sound rather than assuming center stage. Further enhancing the sound is a liberal use of electronic effects and tones, particularly on the lead vocals. I believe this is an excellent album for the uninitiated with respect to technical progressive metal- but be warned: Even just getting one's feet wet will mean getting soaked occasionally.

"Nunc Fluens" The intensity of the album builds in a piercing stream of noise and percussion. Just as the barrage of sound takes shape, it inexplicably tapers off.

"The Space for This" Gentle, clean electric guitar and soft, pensive vocals become a far more intense but melodic experience. While not exactly jazz, the music is smooth and yet retains a mechanical feel. Soon, however, the music returns to a technical heavy metal reminiscent to me of Celldweller, particularly with respect to the layered vocals. I consider this one of the greatest songs in the Tech/Extreme Metal category.

"Evolutionary Sleeper" A rhythmic workout, "Evolutionary Sleeper" contains various tempos and textures, all featuring high-pitched vocals with a lower octave (again, similar to Celldweller or The Mars Volta). The lead guitar has a pleasant tone and is an impressive highlight, suggestive of Douglas Ott.

"Integral Birth" Rife with further discharges of speedy progressive metal, the fourth track is kept interesting with abrupt shifts in mood and tone, although overall it remains a fairly consistent dark metal song, laden with growls and walls of guitar.

"The Unknown Guest" This song is one of most exciting in terms of lead guitar passages. The washes of growls serve as a pleasant contrast to the high-pitched vocals. The piece remains rhythmically engaging with excellent drumming.

"Adam's Murmur" Returning to quieter moods, the beginning of this piece is sporadically interrupted by blasts of heavy metal phrases. The electric guitar solo is fluid, while the drummer tightly holds the musical twists together with incredible precision.

"King of Those Who Know" Initially soft, Cynic's longest track on this album (at only just over six minutes) is in my opinion the low point of an otherwise stellar album. The bass guitar may outshine the other instruments here, but the composition is simply too convoluted. Whereas the music was tight and navigable, "Kings of Those Who Know" launches itself in seemingly every direction at once. The jazz guitar conclusion is lovely.

"Nunc Stans" The denouement of this trippy tech meal excursion is laidback and more psychedelic.

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Posted Saturday, November 26, 2011

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The technical, experimental metal subgenres have come a long way since Cynic's debut album, and the band may have been dormant for well over a decade before reforming, but if Traced In Air feels like it's lagging a little bit behind the cutting edge, it's only half a step behind. Once again, as on Focus, Cynic prove themselves to be masters of blending death metal riffage and masterful technical intricacies, and even if the sort of technical death metal they, Atheist, and Death pioneered back in the day isn't quite so shocking and avant-garde any more, it's still a hell of a lot of fun to listen to.

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Posted Thursday, April 19, 2012

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Traced in Air" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Cynic. The album was released through Season of Mist in November 2008. Cynic were quite a prominent name on the progressive part of the early nineties US death metal scene and they released one of the seminal albums on that scene in "Focus (1993)". They had released no less than four demos from 1988 - 1991 though and various members of the band had also worked as session musicians on albums by artists such as Atheist, Pestilence, Master and Death before the release of "Focus (1993)". They toured shortly to support the release of their debut album, but then disbanded to concentrate on other projects. So "Traced in Air" is a genuine comeback album 15 years down the line. The lineup has seen one change as guitarist Jason Gobel has been replaced by Dutch guitarist Tymon Kruidenier, who also delivers the sparse growling vocals on the album.

"Traced in Air" is a compact album featuring 8 tracks distributed over a 34:16 minutes long playing time. Not completely unlike the format of "Focus (1993)". The music style and overall sound has changed quite a bit since the debut though. The high pitched growling vocals are more subdued this time around (and predominantly appear low in the mix) and mostly appear as backing to the clean vocals and as a consequence the death metal tag that the band were given in the early nineties isn´t that valid anymore. While the technical level of playing is certainly high (and still features jazz and fusion traits) and the tracks challenging in structure and dynamics, there is a tranquil/spiritual atmosphere about "Traced in Air", that is even more pronounced than it was on "Focus (1993)".

The album features one brilliant track after another. Tracks like "The Space for This", "Evolutionary Sleeper" and "King of Those Who Know" are breathtaking to say the least. The only track I find is slightly sub par to the rest is "The Unknown Guest", but we´re still talking a high quality progressive metal track, so it´s a minor issue, that more than anything else probably comes down to personal taste.

The music is multi-layered and quite difficult to grasp upon initial listen, but fortunately the sound production is detailed and well sounding, which helps to easier understanding the music upon repeated listens. So "Traced in Air" is an album that wins on all perimeters and if you view the album in an overall perspective it´s not only a unique sounding release in Cynic´s discography but also a unique sounding album in music in general. A rare a achivement that fully deserves a 5 star (100%) rating.

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Posted Friday, September 14, 2012

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5 stars Cynic "Traced In Air" 10/10 This album...oh man this album. I have no doubt that I have easily listened to this beyond awesome LP hundreds of times; Traced In Air is truly the epitome of a perfect album. It has all the elements required for an album of its type, and hits the bar way up there ... (read more)

Report this review (#849863) | Posted by IcedPorcupine | Sunday, November 04, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Traced In Air is easily the most impressive album I own. At this point, I would say that I've listened to this album, hundreds of times, and not one of which has been a let down. Let me first state, that there is some excellent Jazz Fusion work on this album. Intense guitar riffs, intricate trem ... (read more)

Report this review (#506284) | Posted by slashcard | Saturday, August 20, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The follow-up (14 years later!) to the ground-breaking, ear-defying 1994 classic, Focus, shows a mellower though technically and sonically still-amazing group of more-melodic metal extremists. Beginning with the opener, Nunc Fluens" (2:57) (9/10) the band makes it clear that it has pregressed bu ... (read more)

Report this review (#459429) | Posted by BrufordFreak | Sunday, June 12, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars If not unique, Cynic are a very rare case of band. 14 years after their debut "Focus" (a classic for prog metal fans), here is their second album, "Traced In Air". Some of the members' projects released in the meanwhile proved a musical turn to softer and more melodic sound (Masvidal's Aeon Spo ... (read more)

Report this review (#300909) | Posted by DeKay | Wednesday, September 29, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The successor of one of the best technical death albums ever. It lasted 14 years for Cynic to come back and create again a milestone for the genre. For a band like Cynic it is no suprise that the music changed a bit. For example, the Death Metal almost vanished from the sound, leaving a nice ... (read more)

Report this review (#276000) | Posted by Priamus | Friday, April 02, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars In my opinion, Traced In Air is one of the best prog albums ever created. Literally the only fault I find with this album is how short it is. I would love to have more! From beginning to end this album is gripping, beautiful, melodic, technically brilliant, and fun. Cynic really topped themselve ... (read more)

Report this review (#274313) | Posted by TheMetalMatt | Friday, March 26, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Integral rebirth... Cynic are back! And what a majestic return! While the musicianship on "Focus" was already at a very advanced level, it's at an even higher level now, as they have had some 14 years to mature as musicians and improve their performance and writing skills even more. This has re ... (read more)

Report this review (#273584) | Posted by Time Signature | Monday, March 22, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars An awesome come-back !! Cynic's reunion has been expected with so much appetence and anxiety! The American Prog- Masters are together again and release a real masterpiece. ''Traced In Air'' came as a thunder and brought down every suspension on this (maybe) difficult and risky case of reunion. ... (read more)

Report this review (#238409) | Posted by FatalV | Thursday, September 10, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars After fourteen years of absence, Cynic come back with one of the most astonishing metal albums. 'Traced In Air' is to me, a mix between Oceansize, Death (in which many of the members have features - Drums, guitars) and Yes. Cynic have a unique vocal style, and a smart use of the octaver, very so ... (read more)

Report this review (#231183) | Posted by mono | Wednesday, August 12, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Their triumphant return after 14 silent years. My first thought about formulating this review was a question about how to rate it. "I think it is very good, but is it applicable to all audiences? Could I really be so bold as to say it's excellent for any collection, when many collections wo ... (read more)

Report this review (#227067) | Posted by Relayer Duos | Thursday, July 16, 2009 | Review Permanlink

1 stars I respect the fact that Cynic reunited to record this album, but as far as the album itself goes, I simply don't find anything that blows my mind. The armony between some sort of experimental vocals and a progressive approach to technical death metal sound that the band had accomplished in "F ... (read more)

Report this review (#226853) | Posted by Pentangelo | Wednesday, July 15, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I had the curiosity to listen to this album for the high score that is here on the page. a lot of different voice's on this type of music that constantly has become very popular at this time,black-metal or death metal if you want, a clean voice to an aggressive voice, drums changes, rapidly chan ... (read more)

Report this review (#221477) | Posted by JgX 5 | Tuesday, June 16, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Traced in Air is a difficult album to describe. There are definite metal elements to Cynic's work on this album. However, the sound can hardly be described as brutal, dissonant, or heavy. Rather, Cynic combines large amounts jazz and atmospheric prog rock to their technical death/thrash metal ... (read more)

Report this review (#219162) | Posted by topofsm | Sunday, May 31, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars You are the wind beneath my wings... And the hurricane that rips my body apart. That is a nice way to say how this album portrays itself, overall. The deranged highly technical compositional levels are staggering, and all of the performers are experts in their selected craft. This album supp ... (read more)

Report this review (#218737) | Posted by Alitare | Thursday, May 28, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I've never been into Cynic much, until they reformed last year and they released a new album. The hype surrounding this album was huge. So I decided to give Traced in Air a try. The album has 8 songs and 34:07 running time, which some people may find short. But I think it's perfect to hold the at ... (read more)

Report this review (#192336) | Posted by liquiddreamx | Monday, December 08, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I popped this into my CD player, expecting to hear something boring and aged in the bad way. How many bands come back 10 or more years later and disappoint people greatly. Traced in Air is a great return album for the band Cynic, whose last album Focus was considered a masterpiece by many in the ... (read more)

Report this review (#187423) | Posted by MaSuAnime | Thursday, October 30, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Ive been a fan of Cynics Focus for years, and I couldn't believe this was true: a new alum from the legendary and cult band. The outcome? Well, its all very logical really, if you take into account what the members have been doing since the first album. The rhythm base, with both Malone and Reine ... (read more)

Report this review (#184744) | Posted by omarello | Saturday, October 04, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Cynic has returned after fifteen years of absence to show us that they will continue what they have started with a new album called Traced in Air. The fifteen years of their absence really pays off when you hear this new album. Not only is the basic overall sound of the record similar to their ... (read more)

Report this review (#184227) | Posted by faceofdoomness | Tuesday, September 30, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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