Review Summary: ...with charcoal, on cardboard; a look into a dimension where you can hear what Cynic would sound like if they wanted a Grammy.
Being a Metal musician is probably one of the most ungrateful jobs in the music industry (along with being Britney Spears, probably): You are expected to scream to the top of your lungs, shred the living guts out of your guitars, blast the snare until it turns to reeking debris, and have some sort of groove if you are a bassist, regardless of your age (Because who cares that your muscles gave out ten years ago? You are metal! You are the devil's representation on earth and it is your duty to curse everything established and make grandparents all over the world be intimidated by your music!).
A notion that people tend to grow, change, evolution and rewrite themselves over time is a commonly forgotten aspect by human beings. We can't understand a change of paradigm simply because we prefer the safety of being of monotony. When looking at Cynic as a band, they broke the standard of american death metal in the 90s (particularly the Florida scene) by adding electronic music elements (you know, the kind of music that those kids with shiny t-shirts and big, ironic glasses listen to), giving it a distinct sound other bands in their time frame weren't doing. As all good things in life, they just disappeared into the mist, and didn't return until three years ago with Traced in Air. Historical frame is important here because it aids to describe Re-traced better.
Re-traced completely strips the band's sound into its most basic components: Electronic music, Jazz-influenced Technical Death Metal, and whatever is left from Rock music in their blood, and experiments with each in songs released in their 2007 comeback. With Space
, electronic music takes over the original interpretation and replaces almost all instruments (except for some guitar pieces here or there), while Evolutionary
changes the sketch of Evolutionary Sleeper and King of Those Who Know into an ambientful elucidation of the originals, focusing heavily on dynamics rather than the technical approach one would expect from Cynic. Before going into Wheels Within Wheels
, a more comfortably-Cynic-sounding track, Paul Masvidal uses just an acoustic guitar on Integral
, closing the circle of reinterpretations of Traced in Air.
The idea behind the album was to be surprising, and in theory is a magnificent preamble, it turns difficult to ignore the fact that, even though Paul Masvidal and company took elements from influences that turned into a fabulous music project, does not quite live on its own. Being electronic music one of the most important aspects of Cynic's differentiation in the Florida scene, Space
has some nice ambient build-ups, but the electronic beats just sound rushed; A hand from other metal-electronic mashup musicians, such as Deftones' own Frank Delgado, who happen to have more experience in the field; while there is no implication that he would have made it better, it would have aided the track really stand out on its own, rather than sounding more like something a 13-year old would be experimenting with on Fruity Loops. The acoustic version of Integral Birth
has a great vibe (it is difficult to mess up an acoustic version), and Evolutionary
give us an approach to a more radio-friendly sound to cynic, with less technicality and prominently slimmed-down percussions.
While this is a very interesting experiment by Cynic, it could have used more experienced musicians in the field to really boost what would Cynic sound like, hadn't they grown in the 90s in Florida. This may enrage hardcore-metalheads, not being the butt-pumping, in-your-ass sound they would expect from Cynic, but taken as a regular civilian willing to give it a try, this album has some shining moments that given more time (and collaborations) could turn into a promising observation.