Released: Nov 25, 2008
Genre: Technical Death Metal, Progressive Metal, Jazz Fusion
Label: Season of Mist
Number Of Tracks: 8
"Traced In Air" is the second full-length album by the progressive/technical death metal fusion band Cynic.
Traced In AirFeatured review by: UG Team, on december 01, 2008 3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: 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. // 8
Lyrics: 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. // 10
Overall Impression: '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. // 9
Traced In Air
Mezzo4te, on november 28, 2008 1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: ''Traced In Air'' is Cynics 2nd album, coming 14 years after 1994s Focus. The band split in the mid 90s and reformed in 07 for a successful reunion tour. This album follows a similar trend and is in a prog/fusion/death metal style. The band have obviously matured, focus being somewhat heavily 'focused' on technique. Traced In Air, is very technical but in the context of strong song structures and melodic content. The album is very dynamic and really flows as a whole. The albums production really stands out it is one of the best I've ever heard for you audiophiles out there this alone is worth checking it out. // 9
Lyrics: The melodic content is mainly difficult to decipher due to the auto harmoniser used on the vocals. This does not deter from the strong melodies and choruses. The dual vocals is a nice balance..the growls are back in the mix which I personally prefer. The autoharmoniser reminds me of the work of Air and Chroma Key, I know this puts some people off but it's worth getting used to. The spiritual/organic nature of the vocals/lyrics is a great mix as well to balance the technicality. // 8
Overall Impression: If you like Meshuggah, Death, Dream Theater, B.T.B.A.M., King Crimson, Porcupine Tree, Opeth, Allan Holdsworth, Tony McAlpine etc. this is worthy of your collection. I would rank it up there with Lateralus, A Change of Seasons, Destroy Erase Improve (which was heavily Cynic influenced). I don't dislike anything about it (I'm normally very critical), it is quite short but too many bands of this style write 10 minute songs for the sake of it. The vocals unfortunately were the talking point of other Opeth fans the other night when I saw them live, which will no doubt put people off unfortunately. The album flows very well and the band sound very together. I like all the songs which for me ranks it up there with DSOTM etc as a great whole work which is pretty rare these days. The melodic nature of it ranks it above a lot of other fusion/prog and death metal. // 9
Traced In Air
IBuriedPaul, on june 05, 2012 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Cynic is a banding of musicians that has been involved in the metal scene for quite some time. Paul and Sean, the two brain children of the group, both worked with Death during their "Human"-era. Their technical prowess helped Death transition from a Death Metal band to a Progressive Death Metal band that set the standards for future Prog-Death bands. Cynic released an album in 1993 called "Focus". Cynic was put on hold during the latter portion of the 1990s. Paul and Sean continued to work together in bands such as Portal and Aeon Spoke. All this changed in 2006. A fan wrote them an email, stating that he had a dream where Cynic re-united. Thus, Cynic was reborn. The sound is not just a rehash of their previous album, "Focus". "Traced In Air" strips away the Progressive Death Metal sound and replaces it with clean, melodic, and jazzy Progressive Metal. // 10
Lyrics: The lyrics are fantastical, introspective, and catchy. There are numerous religious/spiritual references, such as Adam and Eve and Hindu mantras. The lyrics are almost Power Metal, except without the annoying music and vocals that accompany said genre. Paul does a wonderful job singing on this album. He processes his vocals through an auto-harmony pedal, creating a thick layer of vocals. This is a refreshing change from the vocoder filled "Focus". There are occasional death growls, but they do not detract from the sound in any way. They are somewhat buried in the mix. // 9
Overall Impression: After Between The Buried And Me's "Colors", "Traced In Air" is one of my absolute favorite Progressive Metal albums. There is not a dull moment to be found. The music is mature, sophisticated, and memorizing. The album has a perfect flow. The opening track rises in intensity, preparing the listener for the emotional journey they are about to embark on. The closing track eases you back into reality. The most impressive songs on the album are "The Space For This", "Evolutionary Sleeper", "Integral Birth" and "Adam's Murmur". These songs are guaranteed to raise the hairs on your neck. The strongest track is probably "Integral Birth". It's probably one of the most well-written metal songs ever. The chorus will remain in your head for at least a week after listening to the track.
There is not much to hate on this album. It's a bit short, clocking in at around a half hour. The album leaves you yearning for more. This album can be enjoyed by metalheads and non-metal fans, alike. If you have not been enlightened, I urge you to find this album and give it a listen. If you appreciate melody and musical ability, you will be very satisfied. // 9