Review Summary: Traced in Air Remixed takes Cynic’s comeback album and gives it the modern prog sound it always deserved.
A remastered album’s reception is always going to come down to just how committed someone is to the original – sometimes nostalgia is simply going to trump any perceived improvements. It’s also going to depend on just how drastically the original’s sound is changed. If it’s relatively minor changes, such as the Metallica remasters, it’s easier for fans to accept than something drastic like Meshuggah’s Nothing
remaster. There are also bands like Megadeth and Iced Earth that like to re-record certain elements of the original, as well as add and remove parts. Those types of remasters are the ones that can really divide a fan base, and that’s most likely what Traced in Air Remixed
will do. For better or worse, Traced in Air Remixed
isn’t just a quick cash-grab edit where they raise the volume, clean up the sound a little, and call it a day. Instead, Traced in Air Remixed
gets the full re-release treatment.
For starters, this version is treated to a brand new mix courtesy of Periphery’s Adam Getgood, and an updated mastering from Ermin Hamidovic, and the difference is obvious. Fans are going to immediately notice the gritty old-school sound of the original is gone. Instead, the soundstage has been expanded and the bottom end reduced, making it much easier to hear individual performances. This has resulted in a guitar sound that is slightly thinner, punchier bass, and a drum sound that has moved back in the mix with more emphasis on cymbals. Listening to both versions side-by-side, it almost feels like the original will be meant for the old school Cynic/Atheist/Pestilence crowd that enjoys their prog/death to be a little bit dirty. Traced in Air Remixed
will be for fans of modern prog’s ultra-crisp, clinical sound. It’s not just the new mix and master that makes it feel that way, either – another more significant change has been made.
If you happened to see the teaser video for Traced in Air Remixed
, you probably noticed the missing death vocals in a few of the snippets. At the time, it was impossible to know just how substantial this change actually was, but it turns out the death growls have been totally removed – not just lowered, but removed. Personally, I am okay with their removal because I always felt like the growls were tacked on and ‘token’ anyway, but there are probably going to be a lot of fans that feel this is the deal breaker. For everyone else, the new sound and lack of growls makes Traced in Air Remixed
feel like a totally modern prog release, and not just a homage to an album the band had already tried to outgrow once before. Not satisfied with just removing content, though, Paul Masvidal and company also added new bass tracking by Sean Malone. This part is a little confusing because he’s the same guy that did all the original bass lines, and as far as I can tell, there’s nothing significantly different between this and the original. Maybe more listens will provide some insight, but for now I’m at a loss.
I’m going to be honest; I’m a sucker for remasters. The only time I might have a problem is when they really start messing with the sound. This time, though, I don’t have any issues because the updates all work for me. It’s these changes that bring Traced in Air Remixed
in line with modern prog, and I like it. As for the missing death metal vocals; I don’t miss them. They never felt like they were truly a part of the original album, anyway. Traced in Air Remixed
takes Cynic’s comeback album and gives it the modern prog sound it always deserved while stripping it of the token death metal vocals, and adding new bass tracks – whether or not you like it more than the original will hinge on whether you appreciate the old-school or modern sound more… and, of course, those pesky death metal vocals.