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Cynic – Re-Traced

  • Review by: Krishna Ravi

American progressive metal band Cynic brought out their EP titled Re-Traced in May 2010. This would be Cynic’s attempt at experimenting with sounds that would normally not find a place on their albums. Re-Traced takes four songs off Traced In Air and puts a different spin on them, introducing jazz and electronic elements to the mix.

The album begins with Space (a reinterpretation of ‘The Space For This’). The first sound you hear is electronica. You soon realize that the trademark Cynic layers are gone, but Paul Masvidal’s voice sounds as smooth as ever. The heavy elements that Cynic used to have are replaced by lots of atmosphere. Evolutionary (the reinterpretation of ‘Evolutionary Sleeper’) is… well I wouldn’t call it a disappointment, but definitely an extremely different version of the original. I miss the epic riffs, especially on this song.  While it does get a tad heavy towards the end, the distortion is eventually stripped off and the silent passages with Paul’s floating voice take center stage again. King (of ‘King Of Those Who Know’) follows in much the same vein, with more electronic distributions than heaviness. This song has quite a bit of jazz going on as well.  Integral (reinterpreting ‘Integral Birth’) has a lot less of electronica and introduces the acoustic guitar. It is entirely built around a beautiful acoustic passage that makes it my favorite reinterpretation among the four tracks. Wheels Within Wheels is the only new song on the EP, and this is as heavy as it gets. Distorted riffs and clean melodies are finally back, while at the same time maintaining the jazz and electronic theme of the EP. This is a song that might have found a spot on Traced In Air, and is by far my most favorite of the lot. Having said that, I found the reinterpretations easy to appreciate after a couple of listens.

Most bands go horribly wrong when they decide to experiment, but Cynic have approached this trend with intelligent creativity. What began as initial bafflement quickly grew on me. Some fans might call it gay and/or a quick steal of the market share, but the album has had a number of spins on my player. Paul sheds the vocoder for this one, and you hear his actual voice, which sounds just as clear and soul-stirring as on the other albums. The only drawback is the lack of metal riffs but overall I found this EP more than satisfying.

Check out the official teaser of the EP here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQcq_ttM34E.