Cynic
The Portal Tapes


4.0
excellent

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
March 28th, 2012 | 91 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Despite being nearly twenty years old, The Portal Tapes fit perfectly into Cynic’s current musical direction and should be an enjoyable listen for any modern fan.

When Cynic released their debut album, Focus, way back in 1993 the musical landscape was much different. The experimentation that we all take for granted was not so prominent back then and metal, in particular, was not to be diluted by any other genres. This left Cynic and their blend of death metal, prog, jazz and new age in a very tough position. When it came to Focus, the average metal fan was totally lost and even their label didn’t know how to promote them. Obviously, nobody at Roadrunner Records has ever admitted to their completely inept attempts at marketing the band, but there could be no other explanation for sending them on tour with artists such as Cannibal Corpse -- and not the current incarnation; we’re talking the Chris Barnes-fronted “I Cum Blood” version of the band. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the band’s next step was to simply throw their hands up in the air and give up. This lead to a majority of the band ‘reforming’ as Portal – a collaboration that lasted just long enough to record a demo before disbanding.

Anyone that has ever had the chance to hear the demo knows that old-school Cynic fans would have been shocked if it had been released back in 1994. Oddly enough, though, following behind the release of Carbon-Based Anatomy, The Portal Tapes album actually blends seamlessly with Cynic’s current direction (almost sounding as though it really did come afterwards). It continues the band’s focus on creating otherworldly soundscapes through the use of cold layers of synth, progressive/laid-back guitar melodies and chill, almost abstract, vocal deliveries. It also continues to display drummer Sean Reinert’s ability to dazzle with his percussive abilities despite the mellow nature of the music. There is also what one could call a progression from Carbon-Based Anatomy to this release (despite the latter coming before the former) through the band’s increased use of female vocals. When Portal was conceived, female vocalist Aruna Abrams was brought in to do the majority of the vocals and she is a perfect fit. Her crisp vocal delivery is the perfect complement to Jason Gobel’s relaxed approach. Her vocals are just as mellow as his are, but with his voice occupying the middle range and hers moving more towards the upper register, they combine to create a full, rich vocal experience.

Given Cynic’s current musical endeavors, it’s hard not to look at The Portal Tapes as the next logical progression in their sound -- this despite the fact that The Portal Tapes are nearly twenty years old. It’s almost as though the band have finally come full circle and they ended up exactly where they wanted to be way back in 1994. The music is relaxed and very atmospheric, relying as much on the varying layers of melody as on the dual-vocal approach of Jason Gobel and a female vocalist (just like now). It also makes as much use of experimental sounds and ideas as it does the core guitar/bass/drum approach (just like now). Also, the metal and death growls have been relegated to the past in favor of a much more pure, progressive formula that does its best to not be forced into any particular genre (just like… okay, you get the point). And last, The Portal Tapes maintain the band’s high standards and quirky approach to their own unique style of music – just like now!



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Sleepytime Cynic....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
March 28th 2012


16051 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Here is Kill's review of the original demo:

http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/39889/Portal-%28Cynic%29-Demo-1995/

bloc
March 28th 2012


34925 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

DUDE YES SAME RATING AT LAST.

First time this year I think ;)

Xenophanes
Emeritus
March 28th 2012


10614 Comments


Have been debating checking this out but now I will most definitely be getting this

Digging: Kayo Dot - Coffins On Io

taylormemer
March 28th 2012


4917 Comments


Cool bananas

CaptainDooRight
March 28th 2012


29942 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sweet




Digging: Fleurety - Min Tid Skal Komme

Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 28th 2012


17222 Comments


did they remaster these or is it just them now getting properly released?

CaptainDooRight
March 28th 2012


29942 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Here is Kill's review of the original demo:

http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/39889/Portal-%28Cynic%29-Demo-1995/"

that was prolly Kill's best review. It doesn't follow the formulas of his current style

Gale
March 28th 2012


43 Comments


Is "Zoom" a new track or a typing error?

KILL
March 28th 2012


71955 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

fucking awesome, seriously love this demo and if its remastered like the focus bonus tracks i will prob cum even harder, and thanks for linkin my review lol

Digging: Exodus - Blood In, Blood Out

Ire
March 28th 2012


41803 Comments


awesome review

Willie
Moderator
March 28th 2012


16051 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

did they remaster these or is it just them now getting properly released?
I honestly don't know. I looked all over the place and nowhere said whether it was re-recorded or remastered or anything. I can tell you that the production sounds clear and modern and nothing like you'd expect a 90s-era demo to sound like.

Is "Zoom" a new track or a typing error?
Error... fixed ;)

You're only posting here to rub the salt in Willie's wounds aren't you?
I cried last night, but I'm better now.

and thanks for linkin my review lol
No problem. It is one of your better reviews.

InFiction
March 28th 2012


3686 Comments


Great review. Album is awesome.

Willie
Moderator
March 28th 2012


16051 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

So, has anyone that heard the original demo checked this out yet? I'm curious about the sound.

KILL
March 28th 2012


71955 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yea its definitely been remastered, its louder than the original, not sure if it sounds any better tbh, more punchy though

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
March 28th 2012


16137 Comments


If I could wave my magic wand...

CaptainDooRight
March 29th 2012


29942 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this really is good

ILJ
March 29th 2012


6712 Comments


Just so you're aware, the Portal in your review links to the death metal band.

iambandersnatch
March 29th 2012


1485 Comments


Cool, need to grab this.

Dummit
March 29th 2012


354 Comments


remastered?

i am on this.

Paracletus96
March 29th 2012


306 Comments


orly



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