Review CYNIC ‘Ascension Codes’

Cynic started in 1987 in Florida, USA and has musical roots in thrash and death metal. Especially in the early phase Cynic had the harsh approach to heavy metal written on the flags, which is reflected among other things in the ‘Focus’ album from 1993. However, from the beginning Cynic showed a passion for intricate sounds, which became the guiding principle over the years.

Cynic is the brainchild of Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert (R.I.P.) and after some promising first years things didn’t exaclty went to wehre it was planned. Cynic disbanded in 1994 before plans for a reunion became more concrete in 2007. After a few festival shows, including the Wacken Open Air, the band released the long-awaited new album ‘Trace in Air’ and nothing seemed to stand in the way of a successful new era. Although Cynic slowly moved away from their death metal roots, the more progressive sound was a feast for the ears. The technical approach to metal is what Cynic has successfully cultivated over the years.

However, there were two strokes of fate that Cynic had to overcome. First, drummer Sean Reinert left the band in 2015 and passed away in 2020, and the tragic fact that bassist Sean Malone also passed away in the same year is more than just a stroke of fate. It shakes the very foundations of a band.

Nevertheless, Masvidal managed to finish a new album with ‘Ascension Codes’. Together with drummer Matt Lynch and bassist/keyboarder Dave Mackay, the band founder has packed a total of 18 new tracks onto the album, seven of them being short interludes. Overall, ‘Ascension Codes’ has become a sophisticated and multi-layered album. The progressive song structures are reminders of the early days of the band and are reflected on a record which is altogether calmer than the wild days in the ’90s. Atmospheric tones predominate, as in ‘The Winged Ones’. Soundscapes and almost spiritual sounds can be found on ‘Ascension Codes’ as well as some harder guitar sounds, which manifest themselves for example on ‘Elements and their Inhabitants’.

One can summarize that on the latest album Cynic put a lot of emphasis on well elaborated songs and big soundscapes. A certain complexity keeps the tension high in this regard, making ‘Ascension Codes’ an album that is catchy in a way, but also wants to be explored. With each listen a layer unravels until after a while you get to the core of the album. After all the difficulties and tragedies, ‘Ascension Codes’ has become an album that impresses. What remains is the question how things will go on with Cynic and the future will give the answer.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Tracklist:

  1. Mu-54*
  2. The Winged Ones
  3. A’-va432
  4. Elements and their Inhabitants
  5. Ha-144
  6. Mythical Serpents
  7. Sha48*
  8. 6th Dimensional Archetype
  9. DNA Activation Template
  10. Shar-216
  11. Architects of Consciousness )
  12. DA’z-a86.4
  13. Aurora
  14. DU-*61.714285
  15. In a Multiverse Where Atoms Sing
  16. A’jha108
  17. Diamond Light Body
  18. Ec-ka72

Label: Season Of Mist

Genre: Progressive Metal

Release Date EU: November 26th, 2021

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