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3.79 | 18 ratings | 6 reviews
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EP · 2011

Filed under Progressive Metal


1. Amidst the Coals (2:11)
2. Carbon-Based Anatomy (6:24)
3. Bija! (2:27)
4. Box Up My Bones (5:32)
5. Elves Beam Out (3:59)
6. Hieroglyph (2:28)

Total Time 23:01


- Sean Reinert / Drums, Keyboards
- Paul Masvidal / Vocals, Guitars, Lyrics
- Sean Malone / Bass

About this release

Released November 11, 2011, in Europe and November 15, 2011, in North America on Season of Mist.

"In memoriam to Robert Venosa (1936-2011) an arrangement of a shipobo icaro."

Music by Cynic.
Recorded over July/August 2011.
Drums recorded by Josh Newell at NRG.

Thanks to Time Signature for the addition and UMUR for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

This EP was released three years after their second full length album "Traced In Air". A definite change in their sound here as they tone things down big time. In fact they seem to be following the lead of bands like MAUDLIN OF THE WELL and KAYO DOT. Still we get lots of dynamics here and the title track rocks pretty hard. They are down to the core three of Reinert, Masvidal and Malone. A female singer helps out by the name of Amy Correia who is a Folk singer and a good friend of the band. She's someone who totally gets what the band is trying to accomplish according to Masvidal. Speaking of Masvidal he relates in an interview that he felt like a conduit everytime he showed up at the studio when they were recording this. He volunteers at a hospice and certainly has experienced many emotions in caring for these people and being there for them as they pass from life to death. This is quite a dark and atmospheric record and Paul says he aimed for an "under-world, haunting dark sense" with the versus but a "child-like,lullaby-esque chorus". So yeah this does sound different for sure from previous records by the band. I must admit the enjoyment factor has never been really high when it comes to CYNIC recordings but man these guys are so talented and inspired and it's always interesting to spend some time in their world.
Phonebook Eater

"Carbon Based Anatomy" gives solid, brave music, but leaves the listener wanting more.

Legendary act Cynic have been known for years thanks to their 1994 debut "Focus", a Technical Death Metal landmark album. After such a long hiatus, they returned in 2008 with their sophomore album "Traced In Air", where the previous sound was rejected completely in favor of a more Modern Progressive Rock one mixed with some Alternative Rock, like many Metal bands have done. "Carbon Based Anatomy" now is their first EP with new material since their demos from the nineties.

It seems like Cynic have no intention to go back to their original sound, continuing their experiments from "Traced In Air". This EP and the previous album as a matter of fact share many qualities: the vocals, first of all, are almost sweet sounding in their delicious cleanness; The rhythms are odd time in many points, the drums being influenced by Fusion, there are wonderful spacey soundscapes that give a dreamy touch to the whole pieces. But there is one big difference: while "Traced In Air" still had some Metal within it, "Carbon Based Anatomy" has nothing whatsoever that can be labeled that way: these twenty three minutes are a relaxing, mellow, and sometimes beautiful mixture of some Progressive, Alternative Rock melodies, and very ambitious instrumentation.

Being a six track EP, you'd expect from these guys to receive pretty much flawless entertainment all the way through, but instead, some moments feel a little too toned down, the melodies sometimes aren't quite as memorable or innovating as they were in "Traced In Air", and finally the vocals don't feel quite as powerful and emotional as previous times, even though Paul Masvidal's voice itself has a very pretty tone, as he always had for clean vocals.

The three Ambient experiments are interesting, as well as the atmospheres they create, especially for the intro of the album "Amidst The Coals". The best full length songs here seem to be the title track, with it's dragging and hypnotic sounds, and "Box Up My Bones", a step down to the mentioned piece but still very pretty and engaging in its liveliness. "Elves Beam Out" is a little forgettable in my opinion, even though it's originality is undeniable.

Overall I was left wanting more with "Carbon-Based Anatomy", but this material has no doubt gave me a great feeling for the works to come from the band, who will be releasing the full length third album soon.
"Carbon-Based Anatomy" is an EP release by US progressive rock/metal act Cynic. The EP was released through Season of Mist in November 2011. Cynic is down to a trio on this release as Tymon Kruidenier (Guitars/vocals) has left the band again after a relatively short membership. The remaining members are Sean Reinert (Drums, Keyboards), Paul Masvidal (Vocals, Guitars, Lyrics) and Sean Malone (Bass). Since the release of the band´s long awaited comeback album "Traced in Air (2008)", Cynic have released the "Re-Traced (2010" EP, which mostly featured re-arranged tracks from "Traced in Air" (and one new track), but "Carbon-Based Anatomy" is the band´s first release with all new material since 2008.

The EP features six tracks. Three tracks are "regular" songs with vocals/lyrics, while the three remaining and relatively shorter tracks are more ambient in style. All tracks seque into each other to form a 23:01 minute long concept.

The music on the EP is pretty far removed from the technical/progressive metal of the band´s first two albums. Not that those two releases don´t sound very different from each other too, but "Carbon-Based Anatomy" features very little than can be labelled metal. Instead Cynic have created an atmospheric form of progressive post-rock that will probably take some time to sink in for those who crave technical playing and fusion drumming. The EP features a beautiful, melancholic and tranquil atmosphere. The music is subtle (but still occasionally more powerful) and the vocals by Paul Masvidal are soft and mellow. There is a rare fervor about his delivery that´s greatly enjoyable. It´s a joy to follow his development as a vocalist and on this release he adds new elements to his sound. There are quite a few harmony and choir vocals on the EP, which is not something I remember having heard before to this extent.

Initially I was a bit disappointed about "Carbon-Based Anatomy" because of the lack of metal elements, but upon repeated listens the strong vocal lines, hypnotic drumming and intriguing songwriting have ended up having a captivating effect on me and I find myself returning to the EP often for a fix of the unique atmosphere and delicate delivery. This is new terrority for Cynic and while the full EP is an enjoyable listening experience, I don´t think the rest of the tracks quite reach the incredibly high standard of the title track and when I know that they can reach that high a quality, I´m spoiled enough to demand that the full EP is on the same level. We would have been talking about a 5 star masterpiece had that been the case. As it is I´d say a 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is fully deserved. I might even upgrade my rating to a full 4.5 star (90%) rating in time.
The Angry Scotsman
With this EP, Cynic continues their musical progression.

Another step from their metal roots, there's really none to be found here...and that is A OK. This is atmospheric, ambient progressive rock though there is still some heaviness, in a Cynic way and it still does sound like Cynic. Especially in the bass and drum work. As always the bass playing of Sean Malone is prominent and superb. Sean Reinert, (one of my favorite drummers) hits another home run here. His skittery, jazz infused drumming is sometimes light and spacious or pounding, but always perfect.

The guitar work of Paul Masvidal is notably different from past efforts. No longer is it heavy and at the forefront, but much lighter and soundscape style. At first I couldn't even tell there was guitar for some of it. Never taking the lead but just another instrument, another piece of the puzzle, that fits in to make the whole thing work. Lots of different sounds, not aggressive any more but atmospheric. Melody was never an issue of course with Masvidal and there is even still a solo or two to show off still!

The other huge change I noticed, also with Masvidal, is the robovox are gone! I could always put up with them, (at least enough) but I really did not like the robot vocorder type thing he did. Not sure if he never thought he could sing cleanly, didn't want to but regardless they have been dropped, and his voice is beautiful. Soaring and lovely, some I know have made fun of it for sounding "indie" (whatever that means) or for just being funny, but all a matter of opinion and I love them. A pleasant surprise from Masvidal on vocals.

The music is light, warm, textured and dense but without being pulverizing. The song structures are progressive, but not as strictly composed as many, but more drifty. Mixed in with the songs are some segues that extremely ambient and tribal sounding, topped with hauntingly beautiful female vocals. Very cool, very moving. The whole album moves perfectly, it all flows together like one large song.

The only real knock I have on this EP is that it's too short! I know, it's only and EP but still it's only 23 minutes, and the music is so moving and well done it's over before you realize it. It leaves me wanting so much more. If Cynic's next album is a longer version of this, (done just as well) it will be a masterpiece.

Great piece of music, I recommend everyone try this beautiful work of ethereal rock.

Four Stars

Conor Fynes
'Carbon-Based Anatomy' - Cynic (9/10)

This year, it seems like the trend is for bands to release EPs, rather than the investment of a full-length. Thinking about the current climate of the music industry, it's now possible for artists to throw a new bite-sized offering at their fanbase in between longer albums. While I do not think that anything could replace the album form as we know it, some EPs this year have been changing the way I feel about this shortened form. Legendary band Cynic blew me away with their album 'Traced In Air', so it is natural that I would be eagerly anticipating whatever they would be coming out with next, be it something short and sweet, or longer and involved. As one knowing the scope of Cynic's work would guess, 'Carbon-Based Anatomy' shows a new side of this band, and despite my first apprehensions that this would be a non-essential collection of songs for fans to enjoy during the wait for an album, I have been so pleasantly mistaken. Were it not for its brevity, I would have to trouble saying that this is a contender for the greatest thing that Cynic has ever done; a concise, yet celestial masterpiece.

'Traced In Air' is still heavy on this band's mind, as can be heard from the somewhat otherworldly direction the band has been taking with their music since then. The biggest surprise to me- and biggest change- this time around is the total dearth not only of 'death metal' (of which these guys are best known for) but metal in general. I am not completely sure where they fall now, but I think 'progressive rock' is without a doubt, the best thing to call them now. A band that comes to mind when I hear this is the latest incarnation of Anathema; plenty of atmosphere, leanings towards post-rock, strong melodies and an evasion of the typical, now -cliche things that people associate with prog. After hearing 'Traced In Air', I figured it was a natural step to eventually wean out the somewhat out-of- place growls in their music, but to hear them not even relate to metal is a risky move for them, but one I think pays off very well.

Despite being six tracks, I think 'Carbon-Based Anatomy' could have worked just as well as one track; over the twenty-odd minutes of play length, there is not much of a break from the music. The most that a listener might get to signify a change of track is perhaps a quieter section that draws on a little longer than it might have naturally. The album opens up in a very spiritual way, with plenty of ambiance and a female singer crooning very spiritually. Given Paul Masvidal's background in philosophy and mysticism, it was not a surprise to hear the EP take this opener, but it works so well. It takes a couple of minutes for the album to introduce the Cynic that we are more familiar with, never getting particularly heavy mind you, but the technical guitar riffs are still thankfully here. One thing that may be a little overdone is Paul's use of vocorder, which has been a staple of his work since the heyday, but here, I think it's sometimes used a little gratuitously. He does have a good, warm voice, but filtering it through a machine so much does take away some of the effect.

The only thing that irritates me about 'Carbon-Based Anatomy' is its short length. Taken for what it is, the EP is a masterpiece, but I am always left wanting more by the time it is over. Especially when taken into account that a couple extra tracks would have made this a very comfortable and satisfying length, it is a very tantalizing album, although the music here at times even surpasses what the band accomplished with 'Traced In Air'. Most of all though, I have to congratulate the band for constantly moving forward. Even when their developments on 'Traced In Air' were sometimes polarized, Cynic has not been discouraged, and continues to change their sound into something fresh. For this, 'Carbon-Based Anatomy' is the best short-form album I have heard this year.
Time Signature
Box up my bones...

Genre: progressive rock/metal

After last year's experimental "Re-Traced", Cynic are back with another EP, and this time a more integrated conceptual one containing all original tracks. The overall style is softer than on both the legendary "Focus" and the equally legendary "Traced in Air", but more metal-relevant than "Re-Traced", as the style of the three major tracks on "Carbon-Based Anatomy" are more in the vein of 'Wheels Within Wheels' - the only original track on "Re-Traced".

The three tracks in question are 'Carbon-Based Anatomy', 'Box Up My Bones', and 'Elves Beam Out', all of which have the usual rich texture that characterizes Cynic's music in general, combining Sean Reinert's dynamic drumming with Paul Masvidal and Sean Malone's technically advanced and expressive playing. Unlike "Focus" and "Traced in Air", which are more on the metal-side, these three tracks fall somewhere in between rock and metal, but still have the unmistakable Cynic sound. Adding to the already rich soundscape of the album, electronic elements pop up every now and then (an example being the effects applied to the drums in sections of 'Elves Beam Out', which also appears to involve guitar synths in one of the solos).

The title track is probably the mellowest of the three but features some heavy guitars towards the end, while 'Box Up My Bones' has a big epic sound with choral arrangements, atmospheric synths, female spoken word and a Dizzy Mizz Lizzy-ishly distorted guitar, and 'Elves Beam Out' is more of a progressive hard rocker with many interesting details and some cool riffing.

The remaining tracks 'Amidst the Coals', 'Bija!' and 'Hieroglyph' are atmospheric pieces which include Native American chants and spoken word, sweeping synth arrangements, atmospheric effects and so on, and, while they definitely are beautiful and fit into the overall picture, I think they might strike some people as just being fillers.

In its own right, "Carbon-Based Anatomy" is a fine relase of very high quality (no surprise, since the Cynic guys are amazing musicians), but it does impress me as much as "Focus" and "Traced in Air" did, as "Carbon-Based Anatomy" lacks a lot of the elements that made me think that "Focus" and "Traced in Air" were really special and unique, groundbreaking releases - not just in metal, or in progressive music, but in the world of music in general. And, I do hope that the next full-length release from Cynic will have a more metal oriented-sound and feature growls (which are absent here) like "Traced in Air".

Still, "Carbon-Based Anatomy" is a very enjoyable listen and reconfirms that the Cynic guys are uniquely talented musicians.

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