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Cynic Ascension Codes album cover
3.53 | 49 ratings | 5 reviews | 27% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2021

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Mu-54* (0:31)
2. The Winged Ones (5:08)
3. A'-va432 (0:27)
4. Elements and Their Inhabitants (3:09)
5. Ha-144 (0:29)
6. Mythical Serpents (6:24)
7. Sha48* (0:18)
8. 6th Dimensional Archetype (4:06)
9. DNA Activation Template (5:25)
10. Shar-216 (0:22)
11. Architects of Consciousness (6:20)
12. DA'z-a86.4 (0:33)
13. Aurora (4:33)
14. DU-*61.714285 (0:30)
15. In a Multiverse Where Atoms Sing (3:48)
16. A'jha108 (0:27)
17. Diamond Light Body (5:42)
18. Ec-ka72 (0:45)

Total Time 48:57

Line-up / Musicians

- Paul Masvidal / guitars, vocals, lyrics
- Dave Mackay / bass synthesizer, keyboards
- Matt Lynch / drumscapes

- Dark / guitar codes, artifacts
- Anrita Melchizedek / voice code activations
- Max Phelps / Reptilian collective
- Plini / TWO Soloscape
- Michael Devin / Crystal Bowl attunements
- Amy Correia, Joshua Leon / Light Language teachers
- Ezekial Kaplan / DLB MetaTerrestrial

Releases information

Producers: Paul Masvidal - Warren Riker
Mixed by: Warren Riker
Mastering studio and engineer: Georgetown Masters, Andrew Mendelson

Artwork: The Landing - Triptych - Martina Hoffmann

Released on November 26, 2021, via Season of Mist

Thanks to lima96 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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CYNIC Ascension Codes ratings distribution

(49 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(27%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(47%)
Good, but non-essential (20%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

CYNIC Ascension Codes reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Ascension Codes" is the 4th full-length studio album by US progressive rock/metal act Cynic. The album was released through Season of Mist in November 2021. Itīs the successor to "Kindly Bent To Free Us" from 2014, although the "Uroboric Forms - The Complete Demo Recordings" compilation album was released in 2017, and Cynic also released the "Humanoid" single in 2018 (the first new music from the band since 2014), and the "Integral" single in 2021.

Itīs safe to say that Cynic have been through some years of turmoil and tragedy since the release of "Kindly Bent To Free Us" (2014) as drummer/original member Sean Reinert left in 2015 and subsequently tragically died of a heart attack in January 2020. A few years after he left and some disputes over the continued use of the Cynic name later, Reinert was replaced by Matt Lynch in 2017, who plays on "Ascension Codes". Bassist Sean Malone stuck with lead vocalist/guitarist Paul Masvidal, but another tragedy struck as he chose to end his own life in December 2020. Masvidal opted not to recruit a new bassist, and "Ascension Codes" actually doesnīt feature bass at all. Instead Masvidal hired keyboard player Dave Mackay to record the bass parts using a bass synthesizer.

Although Masvidal was always the main composer in Cynic, losing 2/3 of the lineup who have recorded most of the bandīs previous material is bound to be a big loss and to have an impact on future material. Anyone familiar with Cynic knows how skilled, unique, and important for the bandīs sound both Reinert and Malone were, and "Ascension Codes" is therefore in many ways a new beginning for Cynic.

Stylistically there is no doubt that youīre listening to a Cynic album though. Although Max Phelps is creadited for performing additional vocals, the extreme metal vocals are very few and far between. When they occur they are layered with the clean vocals and buried in the mix, which means they sound more like rough whispers than anything else. Masvidal performs his usual effect laden and futuristic sounding clean vocals. The atmosphere of the music is tranquil, spiritual, and mellow, although the album does feature more heavy parts. The complex heavy riffs arenīt the primary focus of the music though, so itīs the fusion influenced rhythms, futuristic synths, and mellow atmospheres which the band have opted to make their focal point. "Ascension Codes" is generally a layered and very busy album, but the great dynamics in the music make it a slightly more accessible release than what it may appear upon initial listens (at least in terms of being a pleasant listen).

"Ascension Codes" features 18 tracks and a total playing time of 49:09 minutes. Only half of the tracks are regular length (3-5 minutes long) songs though and the remaining tracks are short intros, transitions, or outros. Very few would probably despute that Masvidal is a musical genius and that his approach to writing and performing music is very unique, but even after repeated listens "Ascension Codes" is an album which is hard to crack. For all itīs technical finesse, gorgeous melancholic melodies, and multible layers of intruments and vocals, the tracks seem to melt together into one long flowing listening experience, and a few more memorable hooks would have been welcome. The album has a tendency to become a little too ambient and atmospheric, and just a little more attitude or edge could have made the album a more interesting listen. The whole UFO, celestial beings, ethereal spritual lyrics/imagery isnīt a surprise and fits with the general impression of how Masvidal appears as a person, but again the whole thing ends up a little light weight new age tinged. Itīs proabably exactly what Masvidal is aiming for, but a few darker moments wouldnīt have hurt.

Upon conclusion "Ascension Codes" is still a quality release by Cynic, but itīs audible that itīs now the work of only one man, and the lack of Maloneīs fretless bass playing and Reinertīs creative virtuosic drumming (although Lynch is definitely a capable replacement) do have a slightly negative impact on the music. Masvidal is also credited for producing "Ascension Codes" and therefore there are simply no one left to make a constructive (and sometimes necessary) criticism of his songwriting ideas or song arrangements. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved, although "Ascension Codes" is the type of album which may (or may not) grow on repeated listens, and therefore my rating is prone to change.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

Latest members reviews

3 stars Cynic is one of my absolute favorite progressive metal bands. They've got a singular sound that weaves together death metal, jazz, and astral progressive rock. Though they have drifted away from explicit death metal after their 1993 debut, their evolution has been natural, and they're still recogniz ... (read more)

Report this review (#2904531) | Posted by TheEliteExtremophile | Tuesday, April 4, 2023 | Review Permanlink

4 stars CYNIC, a group apart in the extreme avant-garde prog drawer, releases its 4th album, an opus that many people no longer thought they would listen to, given the successive losses of members of the group. CYNIC embarks on a musical manifesto where the titles are composed in concept form, 18 trac ... (read more)

Report this review (#2781394) | Posted by alainPP | Tuesday, August 2, 2022 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is quite a strange album from Cynic. Bereft of former members Sean Reinert and Sean Malone, on drums and bass respectively (both having sadly have passed away), you know you are going to be in for a lesser listening experience. Malone's fretless bass and especially Reinert's drumming were a ... (read more)

Report this review (#2753721) | Posted by SteveG | Thursday, May 12, 2022 | Review Permanlink

3 stars It's impossible to start this review of Cynic's fourth full-length album Ascension Codes without mentioning the sad twist of fate that in 2020 claimed the lives of both drummer Sean Reinert and bass-player Sean Malone in the space of less than 12 months. Although Reinert was no longer part of Cynic ... (read more)

Report this review (#2637038) | Posted by lukretio | Friday, November 26, 2021 | Review Permanlink

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