Cynic: Carbon-Based Anatomy

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Cynic: Carbon-Based Anatomy
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Cynic: Carbon-Based Anatomy
Adult Contemporary, Jazz Fusion, Progressive Metal
Season of Mist Records
November 15th, 2011
Release length: 23:54
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Since reuniting back in 2007, Cynic has been hard at work composing new material to keep their legacy going since their first and only full-length issued roughly eighteen years ago. 2008 saw the effort Traced in Air, which was a huge success for the band and prompted the EP Re-Traced which, sadly, was no so good. Practically one year later, Cynic brings us their latest offering, yet another EP entitled Carbon-Based Anatomy. Does the band make up for the faults of their previous effort here, or does this suffer from the same issues of pushing the music too far?

Obviously the production to this effort is going to be pretty clean thanks to the band’s stronger Progressive roots, but it’s hard to really sit down and describe how everything sounds since much of the effort varies between tracks. The release is set up as three Ambient tracks that act as introduction, interlude, and outro to the three actual songs of this release. The guitars here sound pretty clear and cater to more of a Progressive Rock sound, coming through lighter and even airy to further push the atmospheres of the song with a strong bass presence that can be heard pretty loud and making a good impact on the music. The drums are crisp with loud clashing cymbols that work to the varying atmosphere’s advantage, tight thuds to the kicks and snares that sound a bit hollow but in a manner that really accentuates the specific sound each can emit naturally, fitting the softer vibe of the music and vocals that come through soothing or, at times, slightly distorted to be in the background moreso like with “Box Up My Bones.”

The atmosphere is established perfectly with “Amidst the Goals,” capturing the lighter tone through some additional oriental instruments and soft singing from a clearly wise, elderly woman, feeling a bit ceremonial, but overall very relaxing. These instrumentals also seem to vary, as “Bija!” finds a stronger Middle Eastern focus, which is perhaps what the “Amidst the Goals” is but doesn’t quite come off that way (at least not to me). The conclusion to that introductory track prompts “Carbon-Based Anatomy” to fade in with some quicker drum work and a heavier focus on the bass before the further soothing Adult Contemporary material meshes with that Progressive Rock sound. The vocals here have a bit of a mechanical distortion to them that suits the atmosphere given off by the faster drumming, and the additional softer backing vocals that sound child-like against the softer mosty guiter passages that come into play really make the song feel like a spiritual experience that continues to be grounded despite the more Space Rock sounding guitar solo that hits. But for as impressive as this track is for it’s more relaxing approach, it’s far from the best offering.

“Box Up My Bones” is easily one of the most impressive songs on this effort, and perhaps in the Cynic library. The track just has a lot more passion in the music, as well as the vocals, that really makes it feel like a lot of time and care went into both the compositions, as well as the performance of the track. Again the bass does make a strong presence here, and the mixture of toned down slower verses against energetic against an energetic and uplifting chorus with varying beautiful choir-like harmonizations during some bridges, you can’t help but feel moved. There’s also the nice touch of including some louder whispering spoken word segments over the low singing that again finds itself pushed into the background through distortion, all of which helps the song feel more emotional, but more importantly come off a little richer then it would otherwise. But, that’s about where the EP’s impressive material ends. “Elves Beam Out” isn’t the most awe-inspiring track like “Box Up My Bones” or even “Amidst the Goals,” but again it does capture that more relaxing sound and it mixes with a bit of a Space Rock exploration vibe that when you kick back and listen to it, you will feel like it’s taking you places sometimes, but outside of that it can feel more like you’re listening to standard Coldplay or other Contemporary acts such as them. This track also does feed into “Hireoglyph” which basically ends this release on a similar good but not-too-impressive note.

But even with the closing not really being that engrossing, Carbon-Based Anatomy is still a strong release fans of Cynic who are open minded will definitely eat up. Sure it ventures more into the Adult Contemporary setting then it’s Progressive Rock sound, but the flawless combining of the two really makes for a talented effort with some relaxing songs that really need to be heard, especially the emotional “Box Up My Bones.” Even if you’re not a fan of Cynic, or have yet to experience what this band has to offer, you’ll walk out of this release satisfied if you enter it expecting good, quality music and not a preconceived Progressive Metal template, or anything along those lines. If you haven’t noted Carbon-Based Anatomy as a release worth checking out, then you really need to do so, as Cynic have done a great job pushing the concepts of Rock and Metal to bring a genuinely awe-inspiring musical experience once more.

01. Amidst the Goals – 2:17
02. Carbon-Based Anatomy – 6:24
03. Bija! – 2:27
04. Box Up My Bones – 5:33
05. Elves Beam Out – 3:59
06. Hieroglyph – 2:28

Overall Score: 7/10
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Digital review copy of this release provided by Season of Mist Records.