Cynic - Traced in Air

Cynic’s debut album “Focus” was such an incredible and groundbreaking work when it came out in 1993 that even today it is heralded as one of the landmarks of Progressive Death-Metal. Their innovative fusion of fierce Death-Metal riffs with intricate Prog melodies and experimental jazz structures lend them a spotlight position in the underground and conquered the respect of fellow musicians. Unfortunately “Focus” was destined to remain the sole testimony of their unique creative abilities since the Florida group disbanded merely a year after its release, a sad fact that might have also contributed to increase the cult-status around “Focus”.
It was precisely such immeasurable adulation that invigorated original band members, vocalist/guitarist Paul Masvidal and drummer Sean Reinert to resurrect Cynic from the dead in 2007 and record the highly anticipated follow-up to their seminal debut.
Although it merely seems like a comeback album to signal their return to the living, “Traced in Air” is much more than that. It can either confirm Cynic as brilliant forward thinking songwriters or on the worst scenario simply place “Focus” as a one-off spark of genius inspiration. While some us had a vague optimism that Cynic would come back with a stronger album capable of surpassing “Focus”, many though that was simply an impossible task to fulfil. It would be an error to replicate the formulas explored on their first album ‘cause honestly in the fifteen years that have elapsed since Cynic released “Focus” a lot of things have changed and Progressive Death-Metal with Jazzy inclinations can’t hardly be called original these days. Cynic obviously had a similar perception of things and had unpretentiously built a record that stands extremely well in today’s music scene without turning their backs on the past.
“Traced in Air” is a slightly different proposition than “Focus”, gone are the fiercer and brutal tendencies of yore since Cynic opted to embrace a mellower, progressive approach more in tow with bands like Opeth and Porcupine Tree than Death or Atheist. Their riffs continue to be intriguing and complex as before, yet it’s definitely a more graceful and sublimely melodic mood that prevails throughout the whole album with only the growled vocals provided by new guitarist Tymon Kruidenier lending the album a sense of ferocity. Gone are also the synth-processed vocals of “Focus”, now Masvidal focuses on a gentler crooning that meshes extremely well with the more organic and progressive nature of “Traced in Air”.
Although it differs slightly from “Focus” and most probably won’t be regarded as a classic work in fifteen years from now, “Traced in Air” is nevertheless a great record with stunning moments done by superb and innovative musicians.

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