Review Summary: Cynic fall deeper into new age philosophy and mellow out even further.
Cynic has rapidly changed the base sound of their material, but there has been absolutely no effort on behalf of the band to try to hide this fact. It could be a natural progression; it may also be the direction the band has wished to take since inception. The possibility of a chance to chase a more thought-provoking sound might have been realized when the band released Traced In Air
, a shift from a technical side of music to one which focused more on an atmosphere and the feeling it creates, to stellar reviews and an enormous amount of fanfare. And so, in the nature of this progression, the band has entirely abandoned almost all of the metal aspects of their sound and is out to showcase their new revelation. This different focus, along with a new bassist and more female guest vocals, try to inspire a new musical awareness in their listeners as well.
Technicality present in past releases has been traded in for a sound which could be described as someone travelling through space. The song structure based around riffs that still existed on Traced In Air
has been replaced by upfront bass paired with melodic guitar lines. These melodic lines of guitar are what really give the album a trademarked spacey feel, while the still present guitar solos connect the sections of the songs together to keep them cohesive and flowing well. Fans of the band will be surprised when they hear a breakdown within the title track. However, it remains only a sporadic distant memory of the band’s sound on their debut album, Focus
. There are many sounds present here which haven’t been explored by the band before: keyboards, middle-eastern instruments, and no vocoder. The vocoder has been completely replaced by clean singing (and there’re absolutely no growls to be found on this album either). While Masdival isn’t the most proficient vocalist, the parts where he has trouble getting through the songs are helped along by the presence of “group vocals”, or the successful layering of Masdival’s vocals.
When it was discovered that Masdival wouldn’t be using anything but his own voice, it became obvious the band was going to do whatever they wanted to do. There’s been talk that the interludes are nothing but filler, but they complete the overall mood that’s trying to be achieved: transcendence and peace. The huge focus on meditation (“Amidst The Coals”, “Bija!”) keep this mood in the forefront by expanding on the extra terrestrial quality of the album and introducing some musical territory the band has failed to enter in the past. Lyrically, the album is vague to someone who doesn’t understand all of the new age terminology, but it sounds cool and fits the tones presented by the music. All in all, it’s just another excellent Cynic album – the only thing that hasn’t changed as the band continues to age.