Review Summary: A strong effort by Cynic
From releasing the highly acclaimed “Focus” back in 1993 which was labeled ahead of it’s time. Focus is one of the 90s most acclaimed death metal albums along with Death’s “Human” (an album which Paul himself played guitar on) and Atheist’s “Elements”. The aforementioned albums are noted for combining the brutality of death metal with a hint of jazz, which was relatively new to the music scene at the time. One thing that set Focus apart from the pact at the time was the use of Paul’s robovocals. As stated by Paul himself, he was going for a crying alien type sound which initially turned a lot of people away from the record (me included). After Cynic called it quits in 1994 to ultimately rejoin again in 2007 to announce a new record, there is one thing the band knew.
Expectation is a bitch with a 14 inch strap-on.
So here we have “Traced In Air”, so what’s different? For one thing, the production is crisp and clean with the bass volume turned lower than it was on “Focus”. The overall vibe the record gives out is more upbeat and daresay… beautiful opposed to the dark nature that was present on their debut. That said, it simply isn’t as heavy as it was on their debut, there is more uses of soundscaping and synths . The robovocals are still present but, they are more soothing and emotional. Accompanying the robovocals is well placed growls that seems to be coming from the distance while the robovocals are in the forefront.
The album starts off with a pretty pointless opener which shows that they have been listening to some Tool over the years. The track starts getting louder and louder until a riff picks up only to be dropped the second The Space For This starts. The Space For This pretty much establish what the next 31 minutes of your life is going to consist of: pummeling riffage with beautiful interludes with some out of this world drumming. The guitars let loose, not being afraid to create an echo or just go crazy. The guitar solos fit the song nicely, and they almost come and go as they please. The closing solo in Evolutionary Sleeper is identical to a bedtime lullaby. The album switches moods quite smoothly, you will be listening to the rewinding, haunting outro of Integral Rebirth only to be skipping happily to the intro to The Unknown Guest. The songwriting is worth noting, the way they break the solo in Integral Birth into two parts by having a vocal break in the middle of it only to come crashing back in is one of the highlights of the album. When it comes to soundscaping, Nunc Stans takes the cake, as it is the simplest track on the album and gives it an almost -soft- apocalyptic ending.
“But Jizzinymypants, why you gave it a 4? The way you describe it, it sounds more like a 4.5 or sumthin.” Well, it just doesn’t have enough whatever. There is something missing. With its length being thirty-one minutes of real music and the fact that there aren’t many different levels of music to tackle with repeated listens, it loses it’s steam. It’s like getting a boneless fried chicken Hungryman meal. Ok, I got the chicken, I got the mashed potatoes below the chicken, and I got the brownie
But where the *** is the corn.
While the corn isn’t the most important part of the meal, it sure is nice to have. That being said, the album is something everyone should listen to. The surreal soundscapes and technicality of the players will keep you intrigued throughout the short duration of this album. Also this album will hopefully teach you something valuable.
There is nothing wrong with being gay.