This is another disc I could add to my CD shelf labeled, “Anti-Insomnia”. It’s real good music for putting you to sleep, yo! With such a screw-the-rest-of-the-world kind of name, a casual observer might go, “Oh, another run-of-the-mill death/black metal band.” But Cynic is really a had-been progressive tech death band, and they play friggin’ prog rock now.

This second EP by the cult American duo sees them departing from their earlier late-Death-influenced sound on 1993’s critically acclaimed Focus and 2008’s equally well-received Traced In Air, and builds on the less-technical, all-clean-singing-only approach of 2010’s Re-Traced EP, which was basically a five-track recording with four “re-interpretations” of tracks found in Traced In Air and only one new song.

Cynic are one of those bands with a wide variety of stylistic influences, and aren’t afraid to meld them together to craft a sound so modern that they can be easily added to the hate list of kvlt, “old-school-metal-only” purists. Synthesized vocals? Check. Middle Eastern-style chantings? Check. Vocal harmonies? Check. Jazz-influenced drumming patterns? Check. Dreamy guitar synth effects? Check. Dashes of piano here and there? Check. Man, they sound less metal than the current incarnation of Dream Theater (if DT is even considered ‘metal’ anymore), and more like a succinct and harsh-vocal-less version of Between The Buried And Me.

With such an eclectic sound that is influenced by the likes of already eclectic sub-genres such as shoegaze, jazz fusion, and electropop, Cynic’s Carbon-Based Anatomy is probably not going to be the average metalhead’s cuppa tea. The focus here is the Nirvana-ish (NOT the band, but Buddhism’s ideal state of the mind) ambience and sensual flirts with exotic soundscapes after all, and not adrenaline-pumping riffs and shredding solos. If you told someone this was Ladytron’s latest release, they would probably believe you… until they hear what little bursts of the usual rock trio (guitar, drum, bass) there is present on this record.

This EP won’t get many shaggy heads banging, since it lacks the conventional metal spirit of aggression and outright against-the-world attitude, but it still makes for a good respite from the usual dose of heaviness and no-brainer explicitness.

Track Listing:

01. Amidst The Goals [2:11]
02. Carbon-Based Anatomy [6:24]
03. Bija! [2:27]
04. Box Up My Bones [5:46]
05. Elves Beam Out [3:59]
06. Hieroglyph [2:34]

Run Time: 23:19
Release Date: November 15, 2011 (USA, Worldwide), November 11, 2011 (Europe, Australia)

Check out the song: “Carbon-Based Anatomy”