Cynic, Carbon-Based Anatomy (EP)

Cynic are pretty much the only really progressive metal band I like, but I really enjoy them (see here); Opeth is another, but they’re not as obviously progressive and I’ve a limit with even them; Cynic, on the other hand, get a full pass from me. I’ll buy pretty much anything Cynic put out.

This lil’ EP is 6 songs, though it’s essentially three full tracks with “intermissions.”

Track 1, “Amidst the Gods” is a chant [note: if you’re listening to this stoned, you’re just asking for an in-all-probability-wonderful psychotic episode]

Track 2, “Carbon-Based Anatomy,” fades in, sounding like the sad fade-out of a particularly well-made art film that’s probably in black and white and about the struggles of some admirable protagonist from a country where horror and genocide spatter like rain in Seattle. It’s loaded with gorgeous gossamer clean guitar tones; at 4:10– a beautifully symmetrical, logarithmic solo hits (“loga-rhythmic,” more like, amirite?), stunning and sublime… with that constant undercurrent of sadness and regret– there’s genuine pain and longing in all the sounds contained here that can be hard to listen to, even in the relatively-simple music of Carbon-Based Anatomy— proves that old adage that “everyone’s got a story that’ll break your heart.”

Track 3, “Bija!” another instrumental, with its Indian tabla and obvious Eastern influence ends up sounding a lot like Tirtha, an ostensibly jazz record by pianist Vijay Iyer, which I don’t mind at all, also being a jazz writer/reveiwer, but be forewarned if that’s not your bag, baby.

Track 4, “Box Up My Bones,” is beautiful gossamer tones, with a female voiceover of a whisper darting in and out. The song’s refrain:

When I feel scared
I declare
I have everything I need
Box up my bones, I’m free

…Doesn’t that sound very doom metal? Very Mournful Congregation?

The lyrics are much simpler overall and more obviously personal than Traced in Air, their previous full record. As a whole, Cynic, on Carbon-Based Anatomy, are masters of the acoustic arpeggiated riff. Which I did not know existed before listening to this. Which also explains probably why I get drawn back to it– it satisfies that same basic internal need for riffs. You know what I mean.

Track 5, “Elves Beam Out,” is loaded with the type of sci-fi or fantasy lyrics that doom metal loves; at 1:45 a riff surfaces, and the track ends up sounding like Yes or a soft Opeth.

Track 6, “Hieroglyph,” starts with the by-now-requisite angelic/ In Paradisum fade in… which makes me think: Cynic in general and Carbon-Based Anatomy specifically, are unique, in a way, in the metal world– rather than depict and discuss the many ideas there are of Hell, they envision Heavens; they’re the Paradiso to most metal’s Inferno.

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