Concept-album, Melancholic, Technical
"With "Ascension Codes", Cynic perpetuates the tradition of an exciting technical progressive metal placed under the combined signs of melancholy and sadness."
PROGRACER (07.12.2021)  
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The founding band of technical death in the 1990s, Cynic lost two of its historical and founding members in just 11 months in 2020. Sean Reinert passed away in January and Sean Malone killed himself in December, unable to recover from the combined deaths of his friend and mother. It's only half a surprise, however, to see "Ascension Codes" arrive this fall since Reinert had been replaced since 2015 by gifted drummer Matt Lynch and Paul Masvidal had announced the album in late 2020.
This "Ascension Codes" consists of ten songs and seven interludes, all remarkably well linked, providing a feeling of "everything" when listening. Of course, the concept is here again, as on all the band's productions. Gone is the death metal of the beginnings and now Paul Masvidal's clear vocals with an ethereal voice, often vocoderized, always distant, bring a mystical and solemn dimension to the songs. The few rare growls are distilled with moderation, always to serve the song and the concept.
Musically, the technical aspect is very present since the complex rhythmic structures, the compositions with drawers, the tortuous riffs and the cascading melodies are abundant. The solos of keyboards and guitars follow one another, supported by an incredibly elaborate rhythmic section. The presence of Matt Lynch is imposing and his propensity to multiply the strikes and the polyrhythms is impressive. He is well helped in that by a complex rhythmic structure that the most complete musicians will appreciate and will have fun to decipher. 
The musical intensity is striking. The phases follow one another with fluidity but at a sustained rhythm, so much so that it will take many listenings to grasp all the technical and melodic subtleties of such an album. The emotions conveyed by "Ascension Codes" are multiple but a pervasive and understandable sadness emerges mostly from Paul Masvidal's compositions.  
The recent release of the video clip 'Mythical Serpents' gives a good idea of the density of the whole album and the emotion that it is able to create. It is however difficult to single out particular tracks as the album can be appreciated in its entirety. The Winged One' is however representative of the sequence of riffs, solos and meticulous arrangements and is an ideal ambassador. This diversity could be the only weakness of the album, risking to lose a part of its audience. Fortunately, the contained length of barely 50 minutes limits the damage.
Has the recent loss of his two friends inspired this "Ascension Codes" to Masvidal? It certainly did. Does this album sound the death knell of Cynic's career or is it a second birth? The future will tell us. After such an album, it is certain that nobody wishes the end of the band and the fans of technical progressive rock and metal will feverishly wait for a sequel to this abundant and exciting album. And so are we.

More informations on

01. Mu-54* - 0:32
02. The Winged Ones - 5:08
03. A'-va432 - 0:28
04. Elements and their Inhabitants - 3:09
05. Ha-144 - 0:30
06. Mythical Serpents - 6:24
07. Sha48* - 0:19
08. 6th Dimensional Archetype - 4:07
09. DNA Activation Template - 5:25
10. Shar-216 - 0:23
11. Architects of Consciousness - 6:20
12. DA'z-a86.4 - 0:34
13. Aurora - 4:34
14. DU-*61.714285 - 0:30
15. In a Multiverse Where Atoms Sing - 3:48
16. A'jha108 - 0:28
17. Diamond Light Body - 5:43
18. Ec-ka72 - 0:47

Dave Mackay: Basse / Claviers
Matt Lynch: Batterie
Paul Masvidal: Chant / Guitares
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(1) COMMENT(S)    
J'ai toujours eu du mal avec les choix de production de Cynic. Et c'est encore le cas cette fois-ci. Les voix très en arrière et passées systématiquement au vocoder ne font que mettre en évidence l'absence crucial de basse. C'est bien sûr voulu mais ça pénalise vraiment l'écoute de l'album qui possède pourtant beaucoup de qualités, même si les nombreux interludes musicaux sont loin d'être tous indispensables. Impression très mitigée donc eu égard à l'attente que cet album pouvait susciter.
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