Cynic – Shepherds Bush Empire, London

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Shepherds Bush Empire, London

20th November 2008

All live photos by HannTu

Review by Trease


The Shepherds Bush Empire had filled out considerably during The Ocean’s set, in time to have a pretty decent crowd waiting for Cynic, the still somewhat underground band  whose music has dominated my Ipod in the last year since being introduced to FOCUS, the band’s seminal album from 1993. I managed to catch Cynic at Wacken Open Air back in August 2008, and with the release of TRACED IN AIR since then, I was excited to hear how the new songs would stack up live.

As at Wacken, the sound check proved to amp everyone up, with cries of anticipation streaming from the crowd as the intro sample from ‘How Could I’ was tested. ‘The Space For This’ and ‘Evolutionary Sleeper’ kicked off a set dripping in technicality, with jazz elements infused within the hypnotic, haunting sounds of ‘Veil Of Maya’, the opening track from FOCUS. Sean Reinert’s drumming is as thumping and precise live as it is on the album. I’m unsure if it was just my position towards the right side of the stage, but the drums really seemed to envelope and serve as a guide through the labyrinthine depths of the guitars. This is particularly noticeable before and after the guitar solos where Reinert throws his band members straight into a deep sea of technical mosaics, only to fish them out again to carry on with the song. The experimental nature of Cynic and the complexity of the music is something that can be overlooked at first, but upon reflection will grab at your inner cogitation.


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The set continued with ‘Adam’s Murmur’ between screams for ‘Uroboric Forms’ and ‘How Could I.’ Paul Masvidal teased “‘How Could I’? Well we weren’t going to play that one…’ before launching straight into FOCUS’s standout track and crowd favourite.

With an epic solo like that, how could you not Mr. Masvidal!

As Cynic finished with ‘Integral Birth’, I was left wanting more. Two songs from the first album were not enough. Although for a half hour supporting slot they did pack a mighty punch and TRACED IN AIR is exceptional enough to warrant domination of a whole set.


Set List

The Space for This

Evolutionary Sleeper

Veil of Maya

Adam’s Murmur

How Could I

Integral Birth





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Thanks to Gunnar Sauermann at Season of Mist

for the guestlist and photo pass!