Cynic // Re-traced
Rating: 4.5/5.0 —Well, it can’t possibly be AS good as Traced in Air
Label: Season of Mist
Websites: myspace.com/cyniconline | cyniconline.com
Release Dates: EU: 17/21.05.2010 | US: 05.18.2010
I make no bones about it, I have a total love affair with Cynic. Long have I been a sucker for good progressive metal and Cynic is about as good as progressive metal gets. While I was a bit young to really have appreciated Focus when it came out, I re-discovered it later and fell in love with it. When Traced in Air came out in 2008 I pretty much fell over myself with joy. That record has maintained a constant place on my playlists since it was released and ranks among my top 10 albums of the last decade. So when I heard that they were going to re-do some of the tracks in different styles as an EP I was justifiably excited, but skeptical at the same time. I grew up in the age of the Nine Inch Nails re-mix album: I know what happens when jackasses mess around with an already winning formula. Nothing good.
Fortunately, Trent Reznor had nothing to do with this. Instead, this is basically a re-imagining of songs you know and love and to amazing effect. While there are some glitchy IDM sounding beats going on in “Space” (a re-working of the track “The Space for This”), in general the tracks have a much more brittle feeling and what they lack in the sometimes frantic rhythmic nature of the drum and guitar combination on Traced in Air they make up for with beautiful harmonies and enticing chord structures. The sounds that were only really hinted at on Traced in Air, that is the up-close sound that is way more akin to Porcupine Tree or Guilt Machine, is something that that is used in great contrast to the hiding behind the vocodor that we’re all so used to.
While every song on here is excellent, including the new track “Wheels within Wheels” which closes off the record, the ultimate triumph is probably the track “Integral” which is a re-make of the totally amazing track “Integral Birth”, easily my favorite song from the Traced in Air album. The version on Re-Traced is a stripped down acoustic version that shows off just what an amazing song the track is at its root. I once had a friend who said that he wrote everything on an acoustic guitar, because if it sounded awesome on an acoustic then he was pretty sure that it would be even better with a whole band. “Integral” shows this off with a simple acoustic guitar, a little bit of keyboards some female vocals and a focus on the beautiful song structure and the lights out writing that make Cynic one of the best bands on the planet right now.
Fans of Traced in Air and Cynic in general should buy this. It’s not even a question of whether or not this is worth your time and money. The sheer talent of this band turns me into a blithering fanboy and this EP just gets me excited for more new Cynic in the upcoming couple of years. The only people who shouldn’t buy this album are people who for some reason haven’t gone back and checked out the previous Cynic records, ’cause it’s not exactly representative (with the exception of “Wheels within Wheels” which is much more similar to “standard” Cynic album sound). But once you’ve gone back and checked those CDs, you should rush out and buy this magnificent EP.