Review: Cynic — Carbon-Based Anatomy

Rated:

2/5

It’s respectable to try something new in an established field. To do otherwise is to defer to comfort, and there’s nothing bold about that. Which is why it’s impossible to hate Miami prog-death metallers Cynic. With both their vocoder-heavy 1993 debut Focus and their spacey 2008 comeback record Traced in Air, Cynic have stretched the boundaries of death metal while trying to open the minds of its fans, and for that they must be commended. But with their new EP Carbon-Based Anatomy, one wonders if the band has strayed from one beaten path only to stumble onto another.

Technically, the music on Carbon-Based Anatomy is fine, especially Sean Reinert’s drumming, which is both primal and intuitive, instinctual and multifaceted. And when Paul Masvidal and Max Phelp’s guitar parts do come together, they’re thoroughly odd and entertaining. But there is no metallic base to the EP, no bedrock on which to build its airy sprawl. Opener “Amidst the Goals” and the following title track feels less like they’re breaking death metal’s mold and more like they’re biting off Mono, Muse, and Asobi Seksu. “Box Up My Bones” has some interesting moments, but Masvidal’s clear vocals smack pretty hard of Damon Albarn. The spoken word piece at the end of closer “Hieroglyph” makes one think of a film student’s senior thesis.

Maybe this paints an unfair picture; obviously Cynic don’t sit around in berets and turtlenecks smoking Galoise 100s and talking about “intangibility.” But where their previous efforts had a base in metal with a lean towards arty progressiveness, Cynic’s new EP tries to hard to straddle the line and winds up in limbo. Hardcore fans of the band will no doubt find something to like on here, but those seeking blood and thunder should look elsewhere.


  • Intothedeadsky

    Honestly, I felt the screamed vocals on Traced felt generally out of place, and I welcome what they’ve done musically here, and I can’t see how fans wouldn’t have seen this coming.  I do agree with the “Damon Albarn” thing, though.  Not the association i made immediately, but I know exactly what you’re talking about and it definitely makes me cringe a little.  2/5 is a harsh rating, though, based mostly on the fact that you don’t feel its heavy enough.  Especially for such thoughtfully created art.

  • Intothedeadsky

    Honestly, I felt the screamed vocals on Traced felt generally out of place, and I welcome what they’ve done musically here, and I can’t see how fans wouldn’t have seen this coming.  I do agree with the “Damon Albarn” thing, though.  Not the association i made immediately, but I know exactly what you’re talking about and it definitely makes me cringe a little.  2/5 is a harsh rating, though, based mostly on the fact that you don’t feel its heavy enough.  Especially for such thoughtfully created art.

  • Curl of the Burl

    Revolver: Metal for people who dislike creativity, critical thought, and things that sound good.

  • Curl of the Burl

    Revolver: Metal for people who dislike creativity, critical thought, and things that sound good.

  • http://www.facebook.com/RADICALMAT Mathieu Laugery

    nevermind about “metal sound”….metal is more than a sound,metal is a spirit Christopher. Cynic is more than metal. Even if i can understand your desappointment about the global sound of this album.

  • Bloodbath & Beyond

    This site has been terrible ever since it was taken over by Revolver…. To the reviewer of this EP, shame on you, and shame on your close-mindedness. 

  • cynical reader

    I truly hope that no one takes this review serious. This is a natural progression from the previous album and is no more different than Between the Buried and Me’s Parallax in that it is an arch of songs stringed together. It doesn’t “straddle the line.” I’m not into artsy music myself, but this isn’t over the top.

  • guest

    I do hope you know that cynic is not death metal, not since focus…they are prog. This is fucking prog. Its not going to be “blood and thunder”, its music really more to make you think. If you wanna headbang your ass off fine. You could never do that too cynic in any place. Why you were expecting that is beyond me.

  • AF

    This review reads like “NOT METAL WAHHHHHHHHHHH”

    Personally I think this EP is 100x better than Traced In Air