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Cynic: The Portal Tapes

I think at this point, most of us are going to have to stop comparing the current incarnation of Cynic to the band that released one of the most groundbreaking progressive extreme metal albums of all time with 1993's Focus. Cynic here in 2012 is a completely different beast, as they've now morphed into a progressive rock act with with jazzy, metallic, and psychedelic tendencies. The Portal Tapes have been legendary demo recordings from the band that until now have not been officially released. In the mid 1990's, Cynic members Sean Reinert, Paul Masvidal, Jason Gobel, bassist Chris Kringel and vocalist/keyboardist Aruna Abrams formed the short lived band Portal, and these are those demo recordings that longtime fans have sought out. Ironically, the sound & style here is not unlike the recent output from the reunited Cynic.

From one track to the next, the dreamy, often times 'trippy' quality of the music sounds very similar to what Cynic have been delivering on albums such as Traced in Air and Carbon Based Anatomy, except with more emphasis on keyboards and the addition of female vocals. Each song is highly atmospheric, filled with bubbling keyboards, elastic bass lines, jazzy drum work, and layers of guitar textures. Masvidal's soothing vocals add a nice counterpoint to Abrams' gentle crooning, and though there's certainly no 'metal' to be found on these songs, it's a safe bet that proggers and those into more ambient styles will find lots to love here.

Once you separate The Portal Tapes, and anything else coming from the Cynic camp these days, from Focus, it's easier to appreciate this kind of music. For some, especially those that like the progressive metal side of the band, there won't be enough going on here to satisfy your thirst for musical virtuosity, but if you are in the mood for rich, atmospheric jazz & psychedelic inflected prog rock, with just enough tasty instrumentation and soothing vocals, this will be a rewarding listening experience.

Track Listing

  1. Endless Endeavors
  2. Karma's Plight
  3. Circle
  4. Costumed in Grace
  5. Cosmos
  6. Crawl Above
  7. Mirror Child
  8. Road to You
  9. Belong
  10. Not the Same

Added: February 19th 2012
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band @ Season of Mist
Hits: 3383
Language: english

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