It was the beginning of a chain reaction triggered by the appearance of Cynic in the metal scene with their debut album Focus (1993). They influenced almost all the other metal bands in the late nineties. Back then Cynic was based in Miami, Florida − nowadays in Los Angeles, California − and was founded by guitarist-vocalist Paul Masvidal and drummer Sean Reinert. Unfortunately, we had to wait fifteen years for its successor. In 2008, they recorded their second studio album Traced In Air. They continued where they had left, yet with a more modern sound. After two studio albums they released two EPs: Re-Traced in 2010 and Carbon-Based Anatomy in 2011.
During the fifteen-year gap Paul Masvidal, Sean Reinert, Jason Gobel (guitars), Chris Kringel (bass), who also played in ∆on Spoke, and Aruna Abrams (vocals, keyboards) formed the band Portal that existed between 1994 and 2006. It is rather important to dig through this interval to understand how their musical journey was formed from early demos to their latest album. One of the remaining parts was the recording of Portal as we already know about the releases of ∆on Spoke. Therefore the release of The Portal Tapes by the Season Of Mist label in March 2012 will enlarge our knowledge about the evolution of Cynic.
The Portal Tapes can be defined as a collection of recordings rather than a studio album. When you listen from the first to the last track you can feel some clues for the forthcoming album Traced In Air and some similarities with ∆on Spoke. If you had listened to the Miami, Florida based Aghora before, you would have found similarities as well since Sean Reinert played drums on their debut Aghora. The general atmosphere is quite similar to Aghora and another reason is probably related with the way Diana Serra performed the vocal parts. After all those comparisons it's obvious that Cynic has a big influence: starting local, reaching global.
The opening track Endless Endeavors contains soft touches of fretless bass parts and very nice slippery vocals. The rhythm section is expectable to be the same Sean Reinert usually uses. The second track Karma's Plight exactly explains the title both with the music and the lyrics with its mystic atmosphere created by sonorous vocals. This track contains the best guitar solo of the album reminding me of Cynic. Circle has the essential patterns observed in Cynic, stereo chorus guitars and key changes that creates an inner atmosphere. Costumed In Grace starts with a rhythmic keyboard intro than turns into a soft mode fed by a fretless bass. A different mood appears in the middle-section which was played at double speed; this also applies to the closure part of the song.
Cosmos should be the most prominent track of the album, because it was performed live at Hovefestival, Norway in 2007 during the reunion days of Cynic. The most distinctive vocoder vocals appear in this track as well. Crawl Above reminds me of the indie stuff of ∆on Spoke, while Mirror Child is the messenger track for Traced In Air in the sense of song structure, melodies, guitar riffs, key changes, and so on. Road To You holds a nice, smooth and remarkable keyboard solo and Belong has similarities with Aghora. Final track Not The Same has a light rhythm section together with brush sticks. I would recommend this album to all people who are interested in Cynic and their development.
**** Zafer YŁksel (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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