Carbon-Based Anatomy

BY Chris AyersPublished Nov 21, 2011

Traditionally, the EP is an artistic opportunity for a band to eschew their usual musical direction and set sail in a slightly different direction that pleases themselves. For metal bands, however, EPs are often nails in their coffins, uncalled-for experimentation subject to pejorative reviews and fan base estrangement. The response to Cynic's Carbon-Based Anatomy will depend on fans' tolerance of the band's 15-year voyage from prog-death pioneers to jazz-fusion media darlings. Awash with ludicrous song titles ― the worst is "Elves Beam Out," which will surely have diminutive bandleader Paul Masvidal ridiculed endlessly on online forums ― the EP is a hodgepodge of half-baked research in technical ecstasy. With female chants in Chinese, "Amidst the Goals" is a breathy throwaway intro to the throbbing title track, which once again is marred by Masvidal's insistence on processed, robotic vocals. "Bija!" is another pseudo-moody cut, like a disingenuous attempt by Peter Gabriel to emulate Trial of the Bow. Despite its horrid title, "Box Up My Bones" is actually one of Cynic's very best; it's catchy and extremely accessible, like a kinder, gentler King Crimson, circa The ConstruKction of Light. Former bassist Sean Malone shines here on Chapman Stick, approaching the iconic grandeur of Tony Levin. Much like Opeth's boring "evolution" on Heritage, Cynic heave a mixed bag of beautifully tragic metal at fans' feet, with the hope that their next album will transcend ― not simply equal ― the output of countless bands that list Masvidal and co. as major influences.
(Season of Mist)

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