Traced in Air
CYNIC

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CYNIC - Traced in Air cover
4.06 | 47 ratings | 11 reviews
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Album · 2008

Filed under Progressive Metal

Tracklist

1. Nunc fluens (2:56)
2. The Space for This (5:46)
3. Evolutionary Sleeper (3:35)
4. Integral Birth (3:52)
5. The Unknown Guest (4:13)
6. Adam's Murmur (3:29)
7. King of Those Who Know (6:08)
8. Nunc stans (4:12)

Total Time: 34:16

Line-up/Musicians

- Paul Masvidal / Guitar and vocals
- Sean Reinert / Drums
- Sean Malone / Bass, Chapman Stick
- Tymon Kruidenier / Guitar and death growls

About this release

Full Length,Season of Mist, November 17, 2008

Produced by: Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert

Thanks to UMUR, m@x, SKwid for the updates

CYNIC MP3, Free Download/Stream

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CYNIC TRACED IN AIR reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Sinkadotentree
Well it took some 15 years but CYNIC returned with a new album in 2008. Tough to decide which one i prefer. Originally i liked this one a little more but after spending some time with these two records of late i might give "Focus" the edge. Both are essential regardless of your preference. We get the same lineup except for the second guitarist, but Masvidal, Malone and Reinert are back. Interesting that my cd has a sticker on it(maybe they all do) stating that this was a "Critic's Choice 2008" in the New York Times. I'm impressed. The opening track "Nunc Fluens" is probably my favourite. So dynamic with those drums being very upfront and they are outstanding. Listen to the soundscape that the guitar is creating as well. Very cool stuff. "The Space For This" is also an incredible track with both clean and growly vocals. Some excellent guitar later. I should mention that there are no processed vocals like on the debut but clean and growly vocals only. There is a guest female singer on one track. I'm not sure if she's the same one who guests on their "Carbon-Based Anatomy" EP but it mixes things up a bit regardless. A must for Metal fans.
UMUR
"Traced in Air" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Cynic. The album was released through Season of Mist in November 2008. Cynic were quite a prominent name on the progressive part of the early nineties US death metal scene and they released one of the seminal albums on that scene in "Focus (1993)". They had released no less than four demos from 1988 - 1991 though and various members of the band had also worked as session musicians on albums by artists such as Atheist, Pestilence, Master and Death before the release of "Focus (1993)". They toured shortly to support the release of their debut album, but then disbanded to concentrate on other projects. So "Traced in Air" is a genuine comeback album 15 years down the line. The lineup has seen one change as guitarist Jason Gobel has been replaced by Dutch guitarist Tymon Kruidenier, who also delivers the sparse growling vocals on the album.

"Traced in Air" is a compact album featuring 8 tracks distributed over a 34:16 minutes long playing time. Not completely unlike the format of "Focus (1993)". The music style and overall sound has changed quite a bit since the debut though. The high pitched growling vocals are more subdued this time around (and predominantly appear low in the mix) and mostly appear as backing to the clean vocals and as a consequence the death metal tag that the band were given in the early nineties isn´t that valid anymore. While the technical level of playing is certainly high (and still features jazz and fusion traits) and the tracks challenging in structure and dynamics, there is a tranquil/spiritual atmosphere about "Traced in Air", that is even more pronounced than it was on "Focus (1993)".

The album features one brilliant track after another. Tracks like "The Space for This", "Evolutionary Sleeper" and "King of Those Who Know" are breathtaking to say the least. The only track I find is slightly sub par to the rest is "The Unknown Guest", but we´re still talking a high quality progressive metal track, so it´s a minor issue, that more than anything else probably comes down to personal taste.

The music is multi-layered and quite difficult to grasp upon initial listen, but fortunately the sound production is detailed and well sounding, which helps to easier understanding the music upon repeated listens. So "Traced in Air" is an album that wins on all perimeters and if you view the album in an overall perspective it´s not only a unique sounding release in Cynic´s discography but also a unique sounding album in music in general. A rare a achivement that fully deserves a 5 star (100%) rating.
Warthur
The technical, experimental metal subgenres have come a long way since Cynic's debut album, and the band may have been dormant for well over a decade before reforming, but if Traced In Air feels like it's lagging a little bit behind the cutting edge, it's only half a step behind. Once again, as on Focus, Cynic prove themselves to be masters of blending death metal riffage and masterful technical intricacies, and even if the sort of technical death metal they, Atheist, and Death pioneered back in the day isn't quite so shocking and avant-garde any more, it's still a hell of a lot of fun to listen to.
Conor Fynes
'Traced In Air' - Cynic (10/10)

Back in 1994, progressive metal band Cynic disbanded, leaving a string of demos and a debut which has since gone on to be considered a classic of the genre. Suffice to say, with the band members moving onto different projects, in seemed as if this band would go down in history as being a one-album wonder; the sort of act that metalheads could speculate over for years, wondering what other great albums could have come to fruition, had the band simply stayed together. A good twelve years pass, and it is announced finally that these pioneers of 'jazz metal' have decided to get back together, and another two after that before this, their second album would hit shelves worldwide. Although fans would have every right to worry whether or not the follow-up to their beloved 'Focus' would be worth the wait, Cynic's comeback effort 'Traced In Air' not only matches the intensity and intelligence of 'Focus', but rather triumphs over it, creating a record that would be otherwise perfect, were it not for its somewhat disappointing brevity.

Back are the technical riffs, ethereal atmospherics, jazz inflections and distinct 'robot' vocals that made 'Focus' such a unique organism back in the day. However, with plenty of time now for each musician to develop a more distinct sound for the band, 'Traced In Air' does feel like the album the band was meant to make. Technically vicious, progressive, and- surprisingly enough for a band labelled as death metal- some beautifully done melodies. Although there's no question while listening to any song on 'Traced' that it is well-fitting of the technical and progressive labels, project mastermind Paul Masvidal has a very melodic side to his music here that really props the act onto another level entirely. While each composition is tightly arranged and sharply delivered with solos, scales and all, there is the sense that beyond the metal madness are pieces of songwriting that could easily be transposed into heartfelt pop songs. Have no fear though; while the melodies are memorable and even 'catchy', there's nothing but complexity and depth to the instrumentation and arrangement of this album.

Something that is sure to be a divisive point among fans will continue to be Masvidal's signature harmonized vocorder vocal work. While comparisons have been made to that of a 'robot' or even as far as being labelled as blatant auto-tune, Paul makes it clear in the more subdued moments of the record that his voice is emotive and sharp regardless of any technologies. The use of a harmonizer in his voicework stands as a creative decision, and considering the rather spacey feel of the album, it does work well. Although the band has been called 'death metal' quite often in part due to the band's intermittent use of growls in the past, it is mostly clean singing here, which is quite a bit better done than the somewhat sparse growls of Tymon Kruidenier on the album, which feel at times quite out of place in the album.

In terms of musicianship, there's no surprise here; great performances from these legends, as well as some incredible guitar riffs and solos. Sean Reinert's drumwork does not feel as if it is done a complete justice however; some of Reinert's best moments here are during the jazzier sections, but it is a bit difficult to make out the details sometimes under the constant psychedelic effects and guitar-driven nature of the album.

A highly philosophic and intelligent metal album that could even be said to weave its way into the spiritual realm, there is no doubt that 'Traced In Air' is among the best metal albums released in its decade, although it will certainly be panned by the most 'true' metalheads wanting nothing more from this band than growls and 'evil' riffs. The only thing that keeps the album from being truly perfect is that it always ends far sooner than I would like it to. At only over the half hour mark, it almost always feels like a journey that could have done with at least another ten minutes of the same quality added onto it, considering the fourteen year wait. However, brief as it may be, Cynic has released another classic with 'Traced In Air'; this will be an album that will be listened to by metalheads decades from now, mark my words.
Andyman1125
Blown away by complexity, mesmerized by simplicity. Traced in Air, Cynic's second debut after being formed 21 years prior, is a valorous effort after the impressive Focus debut. Fantastic instrumental pieces, that trippy vocoder sound, and just beautiful music all together, there is little doubt this album is 5(+) stars. Immediately after being added to my collection, it became one of my favorite prog metal album out of ALL of my albums (which are a lot).

Nunc Fluens is a nice and short little opener, with a building sensation that crescendos near the end into a fantastic instrumental section with subtle background vocals. Right of the bat 2 minutes in, I'm hooked.

The Space for This starts off slow with great melodic guitar, and Masvidal's "vocals" come in. Very progressive, very nice, very epic. Soon it breaks into what we love about Cynic: some jazz fusion epicness. The whole track is amazing, great lyrics, great guitar work, that epic bass, and amazing drums (I am a drummer, I tend to pay special attention to that!).

Evolutionary Sleeper is easily the best track on the album. Similar to the previous track, melodic guitar opens, then breaks into a slightly distorted sound with some amazing instrumentation.

Integral Birth is a slower song once you get into it, after the intro, and into the verses. The chorus is catchy, with a very nice sound going with the guitar. It is very similar to much of Misha Mansoor of Periphery's outside work with bands such as Haunted Shores, as well as the band Scale the Summit's guitar sound.

The Unknown Guest opens similarly as the rest, a great riff, then breaking into harder riffs and more jazzy-fusion-y sections.

Adam's Murmur opens with a vocal piece this time, but then opens into the traditional sound like the rest of the album. There's a melodic chorus, but other than that the track doesn't stick out like Evolutionary Sleeper.

Kings of Those Who Know is the longest track on the album (running just over 6 minutes), with a nice melodic guitar-synth sound and a chorus coming in early on. It is definitely one of the better tracks on the album. Fantastic transitions, fantastic instrumentation, fantastic everything!

Nunc Stans closes the album with slower melodies and riffs, but is still a fantastic track.

Overall, the album is fantastic. Vocoded vocals give Masvidal's vocals (if he has any) that nice touch of experimentalism and his creative guitar playing is a great sound. All the songs are catchy and have great instrumentation. The album is just fantastic. If you see a copy and do not own it, buy it immediately! 5+ stars.
Time Signature
Integral rebirth...

Genre: jazz-prog-metal

Cynic are back! And what a majestic return! While the musicianship on "Focus" was already at a very advanced level, it's at an even higher level now, as they have had some 14 years to mature as musicians and improve their performance and writing skills even more. This has resulted in a kind of short, yet very breathtaking and powerful technical progressive metal album.

The fomula is essentially the same as on "focus" - namely the use of ever-driving complex jazzy metal guitar riffs combined with crisp, and crystal clear clean guitar parts and independent bass ostinatos and Reinerts dynamic drumming adding an extra dimension that goes beyond your average rhythm section. Masvidal's high-pitched melodic vocals are less robotized than on "Focus", but they are really haunting on this one, and his first vocal lines on "The Space for This" are certain to send shivers down the spines on many a listener's back. The death growls are also back and offer a perfect foil for Masvidal's soft and fragile vocals. The songs are more fluid on this album than on "Focus" which owes to Masvidal and Reinert having naturally improved and matured as musicians over the years. Maybe it's also this fluidity that makes me think that, while "Focus" certainly belongs in the genre of exteme metal, "Traced in Air" is better described at somewhere in between progressive rock, progressive metal, and jazz fusion spiced up with elements from death metal. In any case, who cares about genre labels when the music is truly gerat?

There really is no weak track on this album (although I don't listen that much to "Nunc Fluens" and "Nunc Stans") and my favorites are "The Space For This", "Evolutionary Sleeper", "The Unknown Guest", "Adam's Murmur", and "King Of Those Who Know".

As with "Focus", I'd recommend this to any fand of Atheist and Pestilence's "Spheres" and any musically adventurous fan of progressive rock and jazz fusion.

(review originally posted on progarchives.com)
The Angry Scotsman
Well, when I first heard about this album I was quite excited. Also slightly worried what it would be like after such a long gap. Well? It turns out both were correct. This album does have some strong points, not to mention the technical and intricate music that we would've expected. However, I was a bit disappointed with the album. I try my best not to compare albums, so I took some time off, but after more listening I can say I am not comparing this album to "Focus". "Traced in Air" is simply not that great.

Nunc Fluens. Frankly pretty boring. The guitar work is mainly just screechy noises, (though the drumming over the middle part is pretty cool). The end is the only part I really enjoy.

The Space For This. Begins really mellow, but kicks in soonish. Has some nice layered vocals, with clean over growls. While it sounds cool, it always does. I suppose what I'm saying is, a bit played out in my book. The solo in the middle is pretty great. Lots of technicality and melodicism in the song.

Evolutionary Sleeper. Same as above.

Integral Birth. Starts off cool, followed by a melodic part, some strange clean singing over growls, repeat.

Staring to notice a pattern? Well, that may be because pretty quickly this album starts to taper off. It's one of those dilemma's...if it is good music, then it's not bad if it all more or less is the same? As is often the case with album's like that, every song on here is good. None are standouts, and none are low points. So I will say this about "Traced in Air". It has some great musicianship. Technical, complex and intricate guitar passages, great drumming that perfectly matches the music. Honestly, the music is pretty brilliant.

However, here are some problems. The vocals are very difficult. Like with "Focus" they are not clean vocals per se. They are still those robotic vocals. Not all the time, there is plenty of natural singing but overall the clean vocals, (both of them) just sound awful. The sound of the guitar is different. With this release Cynic took a step even farther away from death metal. In fact they took a step from metal in general. It's still there though. They also seemed to have moved a bit from jazz, though it as well is still there. Cynic appears to have moved in a truer progressive direction. This album has a very spacey feel to it. Also, while I am not a stickler for production, (unless its terrible it has no sway on me) the production here is one other issue. It is not bad, but strange. Sounds like a bit of a mess.

So, what to say about this spacey, jazz-metal album? It has the essential musicianship we'd expect from Cynic, but is overall slow, and drags often. It was physically difficult for me to listen to. Not great, not bad. This album is just kind of boring and lacks emotion.

Three Stars
Sleepwalker
Cynic is a band with a very distinctive sound, blending progressive death metal with jazzy passages, highly complicated song structures and pretty unusual vocals. Fourteen years after their first studio release, Focus, Cynic decided to return with this album: an astonishingly technical release that leaves me ultimately cold.

Despite this, i can still name a lot of the album that I do like. The band proves to be one of a kind with their distinctive style. Very notable are the vocals, which vary from fierce growls to the futuristic, robotic sounding vocals. Also, the musicianship is nothing less than excellent. Highly technical song structures with riffs and passages that go everywhere. That sounds good, but I’d also like to point out that things feel overly dynamic. The album is a constanty exploding, and therefore lacking a constant flow. This is excactly why I find the album to be somewhat tiresome (and therefore uninteresting) and feel it tends to drag.

Somewhat enjoyable, but in the end tiresome, those are my main thoughts on this album. If you’re looking for some highly technical extreme metal, you might enjoy this. If you want the album to have a nice flow rather than being 34 minutes of non-stop climatic moments, you might like this album much less. Anyway, despite my negative words, I don’t find Traced In Air to be a really bad release, it just fails to enjoy me as much as some other music does.
topofsm
Traced in Air is a difficult album to describe. There are definite metal elements to Cynic's work on this album. However, the sound can hardly be described as brutal, dissonant, or heavy. Rather, Cynic combines large amounts jazz and atmospheric prog rock to their technical death/thrash metal to create an album that is beautifully etherial. The sound on this album is wonderful, and makes for a wonderful listen.

Probably the most prominent instrument is the guitar by Paul Masvidal. While sometimes having a standard metal crunch to it, a lot of the guitar on the album is rather melodic, with technical and quick paced string picking a large part of the sound. Also notable is the excellent drumming by Sean Reinert, and while technical playing is to be found all over the album, it matches the energy and atmosphere of the songs perfectly. What really makes the album unique though is the vocals. Most of the album is laden with high-pitched vocoder vocals, accenting the more melodic sound of the album. Metal fans may be slightly dissapointed to only find death growls buried behind the melodic ones, but they should recognize that the vocoder makes Traced In Air quite possibly one of the most unique- sounding metal albums of all time, and certainly within the last decade. This 'celestial metal' sound goes to show that there is still progression to be found in rock and metal, and Traced in Air certainly is progressive in the most literal sense of the word.

All the tracks stand out in one way or another. The opener "Nunc Fluens" is a short intro, with tribal rhythms and outstanding wailing vocals and technical guitar. The next three songs expand upon this sound wonderfully, though in slightly more standard song structure, rather than in an almost instrumental album opening form. Also notable is "King of Those Who Know", which starts off softly with quiet clean jazz chords and female vocals, and except for the album closer it is probably the softest song on the album. The final track "Nunc Stans" leaves the listener hungry for more, and with an album at the 30 minute length, prog and metal fans will most likely want more. This is probably the only negative aspect of the album, though it just goes to show how keeping an album shorter can bring out the best in the band.

In any event, Traced in Air is a killer album. Metal fans need to get it, as do any prog fans, since it is a wonderful show of technicality, atmosphere, melody, heaviness, and energy.
Negoba
A Unique, Essential Piece of Space-Jazz-Technical-Prog Metal

While I will attempt to describe the sound of this brilliant band, this is a work that truly must be heard to believe. No other band sounds like this, and the elements combine so well that I have no problem saying that Traced in Air is a masterpiece of progressive Metal. If someone asked for 5 albums to describe the genre, this would be one of my picks.

The most obvious sonic feature of this band is the vocoder / computer / robot vocals. At first, this seems like a gimmick, but it actually fits the nature of the music and the lyric themes quite well. The degree of effect varies between sections, though I don't think there are any completely clean vocals, and it is often backed by a dragonvoice vocal and the combination is surprisingly effective. Over the course of the album, there are actually quite a variety of different vocal tonalities used, and they all work well.

The second, though less singular, feature of this band is the use of double-note palm muting arpeggios as the primary rhythm guitar form. That guitar speak is a technical description of the continuous chugging on the low strings that, combined with the very busy drumming, form the rhythmic basis of the music. Cynic uses this technique extensively, and the feel is at once loose, on top of the beat, but very technical and precise. Always, this feels like live humans playing off each other, never like a computer-corrected, click-track governed sterile sound that is common to the genre.

The album also features a fair bit of clean jazz chording which is extremely tasty and offsets the heavy distortion well. The guitar soloing is fluid, seemingly effortless despite some nice chops in places. All of this evokes sonic images that like the cover artwork are complexly colorful. This is a rich music, you can feel the musicians pouring their energy into the work, and unlike most death metal, the emotion they inject is not hate or anger. I feel love, fascination, fear, wonder, suffering, hope, sadness, and strength within this music, though never naked aggression.

What holds this all together is a great sense of melody. When the storm dies down and the refrain of Evolutionary Sleeper is sung in all its computer assisted glory, what hits home is the melody, one of the most basic of musical elements. This is what will bring back non-metalheads, even musical snobs who might not even venture often in rock to say: Now that's some creative music. The band has the wisdom to keep the album short, so the listener is left satisfied.

If metal has masterpieces, this is one of them. Essential for those who care about the current state of progressive music.

This album has grown in appreciation for me to the point to think that it may be among the best prog metal albums ever made. Beautiful, deep, magical, amazing.

Members reviews

Isa
A great revival for Cynic.

It's easy to be suspicious of bands that get back together after a long period of being disbanded, for the output is almost always dreadful. But with Traced in Air we do in fact have a quality release from a band that has been disbanded for around decade and a half, then out of the blue reunites, produces an album, and even goes on tour for it. I wouldn't be all too surprised if this album has become so popular just because it far surpassed most peoples' expectations.

For anyone who doesn't already know, Cynic is a band that blends speedy death metal with fusion, the heavier parts being the former and the softer parts having qualities of the latter. They use many effects in their music in many ways, especially with the vocals and guitars. Their debut album Focus is considered by many death metal fans, especially on the artistic side, to be a staple of the genre , up to par with later Death and Atheist. The musicians certainly hold nothing back in showing off their musicianship, and not for the sake of itself, but for the sake of creating great music, which itself makes me have great respect for this band overall.

To be far, this album is a lot less heavy than their debut. There is much more emphasis on the "progressive" quality of their sound and less on the "death" aspect of their debut. This of course does not automatically make it a superior work obviously, and even though I'm very much a prog-metal listener I prefer the debut simply because it flat out isn't quite as good, in that the melodies and riffs are generally weaker for whatever reason.

Objectively, however, this is a highly polished album, very few if any awkward spots, and well thought out writing and production overall. The best track is by far the second one, The Space for This, which in my mind is an instant classic of prog-metal. The other tracks, however, were not nearly as thrilling for me, though each had some very good sections. Had they all been as great as that second track, this album would be a hands down masterpiece. And after listening to this album many times times, I don't thing they'll grow on me much more, or at least anytime soon.

To further compare this to the bands debut, here we have more use of clean vocals; the guttural vocals almost serve as more of a backing vocal line, rarely having any featured time. This aspect I prefer over that of Focus' somewhat below par sounding guttural vocals. What makes me slightly prefer their debut overall is how the music here has less textural variation than Focus, or at least from track to track. They overall sound all too similar to me, and I don't personally find the material as interesting overall, though I do appreciate everything that's done with the writing in logical terms.

I can see why many people are excited about this release considering the circumstances with the band and the progression in their sound. I find it an entertaining album but nothing to highly recommend or listen to often enough to learn every note. If you're interested in what's happening right now with prog-metal scene, or if you loved Cynic's debut and want to hear where the band has headed with their music after quite some time, this is a quality album for you to check out. It'll be very interesting to hear what their next album will sound like.

Ratings only

  • Primeval Scum
  • ProgHead
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  • jahkhula
  • Anster
  • Immortalis
  • Zargus
  • Stooge
  • kogaionon
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