RSS Feed

Carbon-Based Anatomy EP

Season Of Mist (2011)
Rating: 8/10

“Cynic isn’t even metal anymore”, snarled one rather narrow-minded metal-head I spoke to when this record first emerged. “But”, I responded, “They weren’t exactly metal in the first place!”

Why do people expect heavy metal musicians to always produce heavy metal albums in every project they partake in? Sure, the American band’s dazzling debut, Focus (1993), had those death metal strains, but on this EP Cynic have branched out considerably, removing themselves from the ‘metal’ field by creating a surreal landscape of sweeping emotions that rarely, if at all, rise above a whisper.

Anyone expecting Paul Masvidal (vocals / guitar), Sean Malone (bass) and Sean Reinert (drums) to break into death metal brutality will have to venture elsewhere, because Carbon-Based Anatomy is more of a progressive rock record, occasionally lifted by injections of glassy guitars, but more often than not it exists as an ever-changing fantasy of a record which is heavily populated by effects, beautiful female vocals and highly complex structures.

Cynic are like a giant spider, weaving an intriguing web inaccessible to most ears. The sound can only be described as ambient, a bubbling spring of intricacy that begins with the two-minute ‘Amidst The Coals’, which is elegantly presented by the stirring vocals of Amy Correia. The track is nothing more than a wistful, magical journey that leads into the equally tranquil yet at times jarring title track that floats on bubbling bass and crystal clear yet extra-terrestrial vocal techniques.

These guys are masters. What they create has no boundaries and their cosmic echoes will no doubt appeal more to those with an interest in the progressive side of music. For instance, the jazz-like back groove of ‘Box Up My Bones’ isn’t going to get heads banging. This is a five-minute orgasm of sound that takes a few minutes to boil, until Masvidal decides to give us a tour of the inner self to a soundtrack of psychedelia that would seem more suited to the late 60s and early 70s if it weren’t for those caressing guitars.

‘Elves Beam Out’ is another of those complex workouts that jars the senses in its Pink Floyd-style of assault; a minor chug worms its way through the keyboards as Masvidal’s pipes seem to stroke the ears. While album closer ‘Hieroglyph’ is a majestic two-minute soundtrack to space, narrated by Correia, leaving the listener in a confused yet relaxed state.

Carbon-Based Anatomy is more of a meditation course rather than a metal experience, but for those of you who appreciate the bewildering talents of Masvidal and company, then Cynic 2011 – although alien in structure – is the planet to inhabit, until their next cosmic creation.

Neil Arnold

<< Back to Album & EP Reviews

Related Posts via Categories