Cynic – Carbon Based Anatomy

Reviewed: December 2011
Released: 2011, Season of Mist
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz

Paul Masvidal has the most gorgeous guitar tones that I’ve ever heard. Sorry, I just had to get that out of the way. CARBON BASED ANATOMY is the new EP from the now genre defying Cynic, and following in the progressive leaps that began with TRACED IN AIR, it’s an excellent teaser for where the band is currently at creatively. Slowly drifting away from the confines of what we know as “metal,” it’s still a powerfully heavy and emotive collection of tunes that’s sure to get the fanboys riled up again.

Though there are six tracks listed, there are only really 3 songs – the title track, “Box Up My Bones,” and “Elves Beam Out.” The balance is rounded out by moments of chanting, eastern instruments, and supporting atmosphere. It’s a generally serene affair that marries the progressive song structure of TRACED IN AIR with the stripped down intimacy of last year’s RE-TRACED EP. Gone are the growls, the vocoder effects and the overt sci-fi elements, but what remains is a complex core of excellent metaphysical tomes that we’ve come to expect from Cynic.

The title track slowly ascends from Sean Reinert’s drum rolls and Sean Malone’s bubbling bass, eventually opening the door to Paul Masvidal’s charismatic introspection. Layers of sound swath the tune until it builds towards Masvidal’s closing rallying cry. “Box Up My Bones” is the most upbeat and accessible track yet in the Cynic catalog, while “Elves Beam Out” is a spacier tune that’s probably the closest to the Cynic mythos . Each track seamlessly flows into the next, with the interludes providing a bridge between them. And while you can’t really classify those interludes as “songs,” they’re just as important to the total listening experience as the 3 core tracks.

If you’re still waiting for Cynic to pony up with FOCUS part II, you’re not going to be happy with CARBON BASED ANATOMY. But if you’ve continued to follow the band through its musical evolution, you’ll likely appreciate this as the next logical step in the band’s progression. It’s another collection of superb songwriting and even more impressive performances; if nothing else, it hints at the direction Cynic is headed for the next leg of their musical journey.


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Track Listing:
1. Amidst the Coals
2. Carbon Based Anatomy
3. Bija!
4. Box Up My Bones
5. Elves Beam Out
6. Hieroglyph

Paul Masvidal – Vocals, Guitars
Sean Reinert – Drums
Sean Malone – Bass