With the release of their brand new EP Carbon Based Anatomy, pioneering progressive metal act Cynic have seemingly stripped away the extreme aspect of their music for good and are forging straight ahead towards more experimental and progressive waters. 2008's Traced In Air was a welcome return for the band, and though it still retained some of the extreme technical metal edge of their early 90's debut Focus, you could sense that Cynic had changed over the years and were slowly developing into something different. Last years EP Re-Traced once again gave every indication that a more mature Cynic was in place, and with Carbon Based Anatomy that evolution seems to have fully been born.
Opener "Amidst the Coals" is a short piece with ethereal soundscapes and Middle Eastern tinged female vocals, which leads into the more lengthy title track, a textured song that could have come off of Traced in Air. Paul Masvidal's vocals are dreamy here, as he also delivers layers of guitar patterns over Sean Malone's nimble bass work. "Bija!" once again brings the Middle Eastern themes back into play, with some piano and Sitar mostly featured in the mix, and "Box Up My Bones" sounds like a mix of Radiohead, Porcupine Tree, and Pink Floyd, with waves of guitar effects and soundscapes interspersed with heavier sections that have an almost 'alternative rock' edge. Cynic go for a form of 'trippy alternative/progressive rock' on "Elves Beam Out", an odd but enjoyable piece with Masvidal's dreamy vocals over layers of samples, heavy riffs, Sean Reinert's pounding drums, and liquid guitar lines. The more atmospheric & ambient "Hieroglyph" closes out the EP in tranquil fashion.
Those expecting the mix of technical death metal with progressive rock & jazz fusion of the past will no doubt be in for a shock with Carbon Based Anatomy. Quite frankly, there's little 'metal' to be found here, and there's not a lot of anything 'technical' either, but what you do get on this EP is nearly 25 minutes of intriguing, atmospheric progressive rock with a wide range of sounds of styles. It makes for a fascinating listen as long as you go into it with an open mind, and all we can do is see where Cynic go from here.
01. Amidst The Coals
02. Carbon-Based Anatomy
04. Box Up My Bones
05. Elves Beam Out