Traced In Air review by Cynic

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  • Released: Nov 25, 2008
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.7 (144 votes)
Cynic: Traced In Air
3

Sound — 8
The last couple of years have brought some very big names in metal music back from the dead; we've seen the resurrections of, among others, Carcass, At The Gates and Immortal, and all these revivals have been topped off by a delicious sip of Dr. Pepper. However, going even further back than the origins of that debacle, you will come across 'Focus', the debut album of death metallers Cynic. The amount of influence they provided with just eight songs in early 90's Florida is testament to the quality of their music. Fifteen years on, having seen a reunion tour and a couple of new songs surface, we finally have their new album, 'Traced In Air'.

Cynic's classic blend of death metal, jazz fusion and C3PO impressions seemed to work, gaining them a massive cult status. Needless to say though, the 15 year gap preceding 'Traced In Air' means that things are a little different. First of all, this is not a death metal album in any way, shape or form. There are some occasional growls from new guitarist Tymon, but they're mostly buried under the clean vocals. Instead what we've got here is a progressive metal album, easy on the metal. Still lots of high-tempo riffs, lots of complex basslines and there's still Sean Reinert trying to play drum parts comprised entirely of fills, but the whole package has, dare I say it, matured. A top notch modern production does wonders on its own, with infinitely better tone to enhance the perfect balance of instruments they already found on 'Focus'. What I said about Sean Reinert is true though; for all his technical skill, his style of drumming is very dense, as not a beat goes by without him playing something to fill it up. Cynic's guitar riffs are generally built on straight 8th or 16th notes, but where a nice groove would work wonders, Reinert's always trying to match that and that makes some of the heavier sections of the album difficult to listen to at times.

Lyrics — 10
One thing I must say I didn't like about 'Focus' were the vocals, with Paul Masdival's vocoder abuse sending some of the music off into realms of unfathomable corniness. However, on 'Traced In Air', the vocoder effect is a lot lighter, and quite frankly the vocals are incredible. His voice is soft, smooth and elegant and fits perfectly with the rest of the band (see: the beginning of 'The Space For This'). It may be sacrilege for some technicality nerds to say that the vocal performance is the highlight when Sean Malone is on bass, Sean Reinert is on drums and, indeed, Masdival is on guitars, but these songs can't help but be thoroughly uplifted by their lyrics and their vocal parts. The lyrics themselves are also very evocative; plenty of nice rich imagery and cryptic meaning without delving into pretentiousness. Top drawer stuff here.

Overall Impression — 9
'Traced In Air' is a very impressive venture, one which sounds like Cynic, but at the same time sounds totally different; one that still uses the same conventions their debut did, but combines them in a more, ironically enough, focused way. Variety only really comes in the form of alternating between pretty clean chords and heavier riffing, but 'Traced In Air' doesn't outstay its welcome with its 35 minute duration. All in all, Cynic have returned with a fantastic album which is definitely a strong contender for album of the year.

68 comments sorted by best / new / date

    joshjhasarrived
    "Rank it up there with A Change of Seasons"?!? It sounds like I would GREATLY enjoy this album...
    Golden
    This band always brings god-like musicianship to the table, this album was fantastic,pretty much every song on it is a masterpiece!
    tanooj2
    this is probably the technical pinnacle of music that doesn't sound forced and too heavy
    korinaflyingv
    "Cynics classic blend of death metal, jazz fusion and C3PO impressions" I lol'd good review, although I do like the drumming definitely album of the year for me
    rictazero
    I was also wondering how this CD is death metal... more just seems to fit the progressive metal label for me, and I can definetely see the jazz fusionn... and the C3PO. Good review, excellent CD, 9/10 from me, definetely one of the best this year.
    mysweetsatan
    integral birht is stand out i think too b ut it really seems this disk is better listend as a whole, like one song
    PoP N FresH
    ShrimpthePimp wrote: My god, I can't stop listening to Integral Birth!! When they sing/growl the line "A million doves" I cream my pants, time and time again.
    ok...maybe not to that extent...but +1 and same for the spacre for this and evolutionary sleeper and adams murmur.....and the rest great album with great individual songs that come together to make something awesome
    ShrimpthePimp
    My god, I can't stop listening to Integral Birth!! When they sing/growl the line "A million doves" I cream my pants, time and time again.
    ordinary_story
    ordinary_story wrote: Is this really that good?
    I quote myself with the answer - Yes. Very beautiful album. Definitely an acquired taste. I'm hooked now. Only qualm is that its really short!
    thirdeye_15
    wish Between the Buried and Me were on the Meshuggah/Cynic tour! ahwell should be good either way..
    kmceric1004
    TechnoJesus wrote: travislausch wrote: This album is one of my top albums of '08, along with Dir en grey, Ayreon, and Opeth DIR EN GREY WOOOOT
    agreed. but IMO their newest album sucked compared to vulgar, withering to death and the marrow of the bone BRING BAK THE HARDCORE DIR EN GREY
    wigamortis
    Well I listened to it somewhat and can someone explain how this would be considered death metal besides the growls?
    tbrown8890
    Great album. Reminds me of Between The Buried And Me if they were all soft. Very pleasant metal to listen to.
    huevos
    Pretty_Much wrote: This is the worst piece of garbage I have ever heard? Why do poeple like this? Oquired taste? This makes me sad.
    What? I'm pretty sure that was sarcasm, as you list PTH as your 1st fave band, and they are definitely an acquired taste.
    ander09
    This album grabs a hold of you and never lets go... A Cynic reunion was a dream come true ...
    slobby
    i don't know why this album is so much appreciated in here, anyway it is a decent album but not the best as people says IMO, if only the production is more polished and clear
    HeavyDT
    just listened the whole thing 3 times back to back and i must say its a classic. its a shame these guys split up because if they hadnt they would probably have a boatload of classic cds by now not just 2
    travislausch
    Night_Lights wrote: travislausch wrote: This album is one of my top albums of '08, along with Dir en grey, Ayreon, and Opeth Cross out Ayreon and you have my exact thoughts!
    Actually, add Gojira, Intronaut, and Meshuggah to my list.
    Night_Lights
    travislausch wrote: This album is one of my top albums of '08, along with Dir en grey, Ayreon, and Opeth
    Cross out Ayreon and you have my exact thoughts!
    Haunted_Shell
    slobby wrote: i don't know why this album is so much appreciated in here, anyway it is a decent album but not the best as people says IMO, if only the production is more polished and clear
    Yeah whatever, the album sounds great as it is and it is worth the appreciation. you probably should go back and listen to your alexisonfire and fall out boy albums
    Dinopaterno22
    ShrimpthePimp wrote: My god, I can't stop listening to Integral Birth!! When they sing/growl the line "A million doves" I cream my pants, time and time again.
    Almost the same here, God, it's just ****ing Perfect. Best 2008 Album
    maiden666pwns
    these guys were the opener for my dream theater concert and man i was blown away. Getting both albums right away.
    jibran
    My favourite album alongside radiohead's 'kid-a' and 'in rainbows' and the mars volta's 'frances the mute'.
    jollyjolly
    if you haven't heard this band... mix Some Mars Volta with Al Di Meola and a hint of BTBAM My #1 album of 2008 for sure
    TwistClock
    I AM AN EVOLUTIONARY SLEEPER. Just brought this. Fantastic. Bring on the 2010 EP.
    tanooj2
    i don't know how many people have noticed it, but there a lot of hindu references in the lyrics... stuff like ahamkara and om shree maha lakshmi swaha...
    Mezzo4te
    joshjhasarrived wrote: "Rank it up there with A Change of Seasons"?!? It sounds like I would GREATLY enjoy this album...
    my taste buddy i was referring to musically very different. y'all should check out Damn the Machine its got a similar prog fusion metal feel.
    duncang
    RRRone wrote: Correct me if i am wrong...isn't his name Paul Masvidal and not Paul Masdival as the UG team review repeatedly states?
    My bad. Woulda got it right if I was a Swedish fanboy. Checked.
    PiCSeL
    Reviewer Pete wrote: You're slow, Duncan.
    Nope. Duncan's review was submitted muuuuuch earlier. But approved only today.
    henkka_potku
    undeaded wrote: This album is great. Opeth and Tool fans should eat this one right up.
    I'm both, and I LOVED this album. It is a masterpiece.
    Mahoru
    henkka_potku wrote: undeaded wrote: This album is great. Opeth and Tool fans should eat this one right up. I'm both, and I LOVED this album. It is a masterpiece.
    +1 on both things
    duncang
    Reviewer Pete wrote: You're slow, Duncan.
    Hey, at least I'm not some mindless fanboy >_> Also checked.
    Magero
    Nice review there Duncan. I still maintain that this is the most overhyped and overblown release of all time, but still, good review.