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Cynic – Ascension Codes Award winner

Ascension Codes
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 06 December 2021, 1:49 PM

From their EPK, “CYNIC’s continual state of development has met its share of challenges over the years, hurdles that threatened to dismantle the entity’s forward surge. Yet through hurricanes, breakups, and assorted acrimony both personal and existential, it remains inspired to create. Their name is synonymous with what it means to be truly progressive in music.” The newest album here contains eighteen tracks.

“Mu-54*” leads off the album. It’s a very brief instrumental that leads to “The Winged Ones.” What follows are very pretty melodies and some exquisite musicianship. The bass synth is a wonderful instrument and it allows the band to explore more freely. The connections they make are very tight but the music flows easily in their hands. “A’-va432” is another very short track that is over before it establishes anything significant. “Elements and their Inhabitants” features more wondrous melodies that both attack you and surround you with their warmth. “Mythical Serpents” begins with some forceful guitars and drums, before lessening to more pensive sounds along with some brief vocal parts. The drummer is on fire here. It picks up steam as it moves along, with crashing cymbals to accentuate the mood.

“Dimensional Archetype” is yet another exercise in expert songwriting that borders on the preposterous…are these gentlemen serious? At times they nearly lose me in a groove that can go right out of the stratosphere and into the heavens. “Activation Template” features ominous sounds and a steady, easy sound that carries you through to a dream. Was your body just invaded by cosmic aliens? When you wake, you are not sure. “Architects of Consciousness” opens with more easy, spacy tones. Vocals kick in an it rolls forward with both staccato and legato notes. “Aurora” features some spicy musicianship with an ear for nice, smooth melodies. The combination here is what really allows the band to stand out.

“In a Multiverse Where Atoms Sing” aptly describes the band’s approach to the album in my opinion. Atoms cannot sing, at least not in our universe of what’s real. But in their universe, atoms do sing, and quite beautifully. The vocals are the star here and revel in harmonies that touch your soul. “Diamond Light Body” closes the album. It begins with thumping bass notes that move freely through space and time. Lead guitars join the fold along with some fantastic drum work and some vocals. This beast they have created grows and grows, fueled by the band’s outer-worldly sense of the magnanimous. When it finally materializes, it is poised to take over the earth.

Impossibly tight passages are dealt with ease, and absolutely absurd levels of musicianship are bested here probably only by the band’s vigorous and energetic sense of songwriting. I have to question the use of the shorter, nearly insignificant tracks that are just too short to register. I am sure they serve a purpose, but I just don’t know what it is. It’s very easy to get lost in this nine-course meal of Progressive music, served up with enough sides to fill a family of eight. But the music is not at all stale, it’s alive and pulsing with melody. Even this Progressive Metal fan is speechless.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

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
Paul Masvidal – Guitars, Vocals, Lyrics
Dave Mackay – Bass Synthesizer, Keyboards
Matt Lynch – Drumscapes
Record Label: Season of Mist


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