Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Cynic: Carbon-Based Anatomy (EP 2011)


I discovered Cynic around 2006, when they were still a little-known band with a growing cult following. They had released one full-length album of sci-fi themed progressive death metal in 1993, and disappeared for over a decade. They reunited and released the massively well-received Traced in Air. I would definitely change one of the albums that I put on my list of the best albums of 2008, but TiA would definitely remain. They followed that in 2010 with a strange collection of re-worked songs from the album (Re-Traced), stripped of any resemblance to metal whatsoever. And, let's not sugar-coat it, it sucked. When I heard that new EP Carbon-Based Anatomy wasn't particularly metal either, I was leery. But the cool album art made me optimistic. I can't say I'm disappointed.

The record explores an entirely new sound for the band. There are hints of metalness to be found here and there, but mostly it's a combination of psychedelia and alt-rock. It's easily their most atmospheric recording to date, beginning at the beautiful, haunting intro (featuring female vocals in Latin) and continuing through to the outro. Tribal drums, sitar, and Oriental (is that offensive? I don't know) chants fill out the album's interlude. The EP would not be complete without these sonic explorations.

But more importantly, the three proper songs are good, helped along by excellent drumming. No, they're not really metal, despite the understated tremolo riffing and almost-metal riff later on in the title track. But the sci-fi theme is back in full force with the trademark vocoder on the title track and distorted drums and sound effects on "Elves Beam Out". The choruses are catchy, downbeat alt-rock fare.

It's different. But it's immersive and highly memorable.

The Verdict: No, it's not really the Cynic I grew to love. These guys are doing their own thing, exploring new territories, and you have to admire that. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. If they keep on releasing entirely unique EPs every year, I would be happy.

1 comment:

  1. I will have to check this out. I do enjoy Cynic quite a bit.