Cynic (band)

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Cynic live 2009-2.jpg
Cynic live at Gods of Metal in 2009
Background information
Origin Miami, Florida, United States
Genres Progressive rock, progressive metal, jazz fusion, technical death metal (early)[1]
Years active 1987–1994, 2006–present
Labels Roadrunner, Season of Mist
Associated acts Æon Spoke, Death, Gordian Knot
Members Paul Masvidal
Sean Reinert
Sean Malone
Past members Jack Kelly
Mark Van Erp
Jason Gobel
Tony Choy
Tony Teegarden
Santiago Dobles
Chris Kringel
David Senescu
Tymon Kruidenier
Robin Zielhorst

Cynic is an American progressive rock band — incorporating experimental music, alternative, metal and jazz fusion[2][3][4][5] elements — founded in Miami, Florida, and currently based in Los Angeles, California. Their first album, Focus, released on September 14, 1993, is widely regarded as a landmark release of the progressive metal genre. Cynic disbanded in 1994, but reunited in 2006, and released their second album on November 17, 2008.[6] Traced in Air was released through French label Season of Mist,[7] followed up by an EP titled Re-Traced on May 18, 2010 and an EP titled Carbon-Based Anatomy on November 11, 2011. Their third studio album, Kindly Bent to Free Us, was released on February 14, 2014.


Demo era (1987–1991)[edit]

Cynic was formed by guitarist (and now singer) Paul Masvidal and drummer Sean Reinert in 1987. In 1988, the band made their first recording, simply called the '88 Demo. After the demo, Paul Masvidal took over vocal duties, while continuing to play guitar. The band also added a second guitarist, Jason Gobel. Another demo followed in 1989, titled Reflections of a Dying World. 1989 also brought the addition of bassist Tony Choy. In 1990, the group went to the studio to record their third demo, plainly titled '90 Demo. In 1991, Cynic signed with Roadrunner Records and recorded their fourth and final demo, known as Demo 1991.

Recording Focus (1993)[edit]

Sean Reinert on drums (with Focus art on bass drum), 2007

The recording of Cynic's full-length debut album Focus did not begin immediately after the band signed a new contract with Roadrunner Records.[8][9] Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert had played on Death's 1991 album Human and were obligated to take part in the supporting tour of Europe. During this tour, Death ran into serious financial trouble, which resulted in Masvidal and Reinert's gear being confiscated for six months by a UK promoter. During this time, the band parted with bassist Tony Choy (who joined Atheist). Choy was replaced by Sean Malone. The band planned to record Focus in August 1992, but the day they were to begin recording, Hurricane Andrew struck Florida and destroyed both Gobel's home and the band's rehearsal space, leading to months of delay. The band used this time as an opportunity to write new material, much of which is featured on Focus. Tony Teegarden was eventually brought in to do the "aggressive vocals", but all the vocoder vocals were recorded by Masvidal.[10]

Focus was released internationally September 14, 1993.[11]

Cynic toured extensively worldwide throughout 1993-94,[12][13] including the Dynamo Open Air Festival in May 1994.

Asked in an interview on[14] about Focus material, Masvidal says:

Hiatus (1994-2006)[edit]

Musical and personal differences halted work on a second studio album, as the group disbanded, with most of its members turning to side projects.

Gobel, Masvidal, and Reinert, with bassist Chris Kringel and vocalist/keyboardist Aruna Abrams, formed the short-lived Portal.[15] Masvidal and Reinert released an album with a more recent project, the indie act Æon Spoke, on SPV Records[16] and Kringel also played with them, touring the UK in 2005. The members of Cynic loosely reunited (playing with Bill Bruford, Steve Hackett, and Jim Matheos on various tracks) on Gordian Knot's second album, Emergent.

Reunion (2006-2007)[edit]

Paul Masvidal, 2007

In September 2006, Paul Masvidal announced that Cynic was reuniting to perform during spring/summer of 2007. During June/July/August 2007, they played 15 shows across Europe, predominantly at major metal/rock festivals. The setlist consisted of songs from Focus, Portal's demo, a cover of Mahavishnu Orchestra's "Meeting of the Spirits," and a new song, "Evolutionary Sleeper."

The reunion line-up featured founding members Masvidal on guitar/vocals and Reinert on drums. Gobel, the longtime guitarist who played on Focus could not participate due to family and work commitments, and David "Mavis" Senescu was brought aboard as a replacement. Malone, who played bass on Focus, was unavailable due to teaching and work commitments, and Chris Kringel, who played bass on the 1993 European tour, was brought in as a replacement. All aggressive vocals were handled by pre-recordings of Teegarden. All keyboards were covered by Masvidal and Senescu using guitar synths.

In early 2008, the band announced plans to complete a second studio album. Malone rejoined the lineup and Dutch guitarist Tymon Kruidenier of Exivious was added, the latter contributing aggressive vocals.

Traced in Air and Re-Traced (2008−2011)[edit]

Main article: Traced in Air

Traced in Air was released internationally November 17, 2008 on Season of Mist, followed by Robin Zielhorst being added as touring bassist.[17]

The band played at the Wacken Open Air festival.[18] The Traced in Air tour cycle began in Autumn 2008 with direct support slots for Opeth on their European tour.

Starting in February 2009, Cynic toured North America with Meshuggah and The Faceless, and beginning April 15, 2009 Cynic toured North America in support of DragonForce.

During the 2010 tour in support of Between the Buried and Me, along with Scale the Summit and the Devin Townsend Project, the band performed live "an experiment" titled "Wheels Within Wheels."[19] Shortly after unveiling this new work, the band announced a new EP coming soon on their MySpace blog. Masvidal revealed in an interview the plans for the coming EP:[20]

Later blogs on MySpace revealed that the new EP would be titled Re-Traced.

In May 2010, Cynic announced plans for their first US headlining tour.[21] Titled "Re-Traced / Re-Focused Live", the tour found Cynic performing their debut album Focus in its entirety, among other tracks. The tour was co-sponsored by Decibel Magazine as its inaugural "Hall of Fame" tour series. It kicked off on July 22, 2010 in Los Angeles with Intronaut and Dysrhythmia as supporting bands. The tour ended on August 13, 2010. The final show of the tour took place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; it was the first time in 16 years the band returned to their hometown to perform.[22]

In December 2010, the band announced that bassist Robin Zielhorst and guitarist Tymon Kruidenier were no longer in Cynic due to logistical and various other reasons. In the same announcement, Masvidal and Reinert set the approximate release schedule for Cynic's next album, stating that "the new Cynic release should be coming in late 2011 on the Season of Mist label", and, in addition, "[t]hey are also working towards a remixed re-release of their classic recording 'Focus.'"[23]

Cynic will remain as a duo, utilizing a collective of guest musicians and situations. Masvidal recently announced on the Cynic forum "Sean and I are keen to the idea of Cynic evolving into a collective of sorts, depending on the album / tour, etc.. It allows for a lot more creative flexibility, plus we get to tailor each situation as it arises. Traced In Air was essentially the beginning of this idea. We love playing with different musicians as it is, so this opens up lots of possibilities."

Cynic are represented by lawyer Eric Greif,[24] whom Masvidal and Reinert have known over two decades since their time in Death.

Carbon-Based Anatomy and Kindly Bent to Free Us (2011−present)[edit]

Although he toured with Cynic only during the Focus era, Sean Malone has recorded bass on all Cynic releases so far (Re-Traced EP being the exception)

Cynic's website announced that the band was working on a new album and the "first baby steps into this gigantic process are being taken right now, creating little embryos of songs that will turn into fully fledged CYNIC tunes over the course of the following months."[25]

On September 6, 2011, Cynic announced a new EP titled Carbon-Based Anatomy would be released on November 11, 2011 in Europe, and November 15, 2011 in the United States. The artwork was designed by Robert Venosa, the artist behind the cover artworks of Focus, Traced in Air and Re-Traced, shortly before his death. All bass parts on Carbon-Based Anatomy were recorded by Sean Malone, who had also previously recorded the bass parts to Focus and Traced in Air.

Paul Masvidal describes this new EP as

“...both a philosophical as well as a musical journey, one that begins in the Amazon jungle on the lips of a shamanic wisewoman (as portrayed by Amy Correia) and ends in outerspace”.[26]

On October 10, 2011, Cynic uploaded one song from the new EP titled "Carbon-Based Anatomy" and announced that Brandon Giffin and Max Phelps would be playing live with the band. Brandon Giffin is a former bassist for The Faceless and Max Phelps will play the second guitar and provide backing vocals. The band completed a North American and European tour in support of the EP in November and December 2011.[27]

Commenting on a musical shift from metal elements in an interview on,[14] Masvidal says:

In March 2012, Cynic released via Season of Mist an album of demos that were produced as a follow-up to Focus back in 1995, entitled The Portal Tapes.

On December 12, 2012, Cynic announced through their official website that Masvidal, Reinert and Sean Malone were entering the studio in "trio mode" to record their fifth release.[28] They revealed the title of the new album and the album cover on the 10th of November 2013, on their official Facebook page. The album, Kindly Bent to Free Us, was released on February 14, 2014.[29]

Musical style[edit]

Cynic's first recordings feature a more punk, thrash and hardcore sound, but in the 1990s their sound changed towards a highly complex, experimental and extremely technical form of progressive metal, while still retaining their death metal roots. Many influences from jazz and jazz-rock fusion[3] can be heard on their debut album Focus. Focus has both "growls" and "robotic" vocals,[3] using a vocoder. The offshoot Portal later released a demo recording that continues even further in the direction of progressive space rock, refining and softening up their sound.

Cynic's 2008 album Traced in Air melded together the styles and influences heard on 1993's Focus with the more progressive-oriented Portal approach. The result had Cynic put less emphasis on its extreme metal elements, with new guttural vocalist Tymon Kruidenier playing a smaller role than Tony Teegarden did on Focus. Additionally, Paul Masvidal all but abandoned his vocoder robotic vocals, opting instead for a more natural singing voice, with a subtler —although noticeable— vocoder layer.

Noting the journey from metal to the progressives, The New York Times proclaimed in a positive review of Traced in Air that "Cynic should be understood not so much alongside any metal bands but along with the radical harmonic progressives in the last 45 years of pop and jazz: composers like Milton Nascimento, The Beach Boys or Pat Metheny."[30]






Studio albums
Compilation albums
  • The Portal Tapes (2012)


  1. ^ Freeman, Phil. The Man-Machine Will Rock You Retrieved on 2011-11-11.
  2. ^ Ratliff, B. From Jazz-Rock Fusion to Progressive Metal, With a Virtuosic Accompaniment, The New York Times, Feb. 2010, (retrieved January 30, 2011)
  3. ^ a b c Christina Henriques (1994-01-26). "Faded Glory - Page 1 - Music - Miami". Miami New Times. Retrieved 2011-07-17. 
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ Photograph: Oliver Faig (2008-12-16). "Music: The best (and worst) of 2008 - Music - Time Out New York". Retrieved 2011-07-17. 
  6. ^ "BLABBERMOUTH.NET - CYNIC's 'Traced In Air' Pushed Back To November". Retrieved 2011-07-17. 
  7. ^ Harris, Chris (2008-05-09). "DragonForce Frontman Not As Impressed As 'Guitar Hero' Fans; Plus Deftones, All That Remains And More News That Rules, In Metal File - Music, Celebrity, Artist News". MTV. Retrieved 2011-07-17. 
  8. ^ Cynic page at Roadrunner Records, (retrieved January 30, 2011)
  9. ^ Opening the Crypts: Cynic, Roadrunner records, (retrieved January 30, 2011)
  10. ^ Wagner 2010, p. 174
  11. ^ Wagner 2010, p. 180
  12. ^ Cynic US tour dates at Cynical Sphere, (retrieved January 30, 2011)
  13. ^ Cynic European tour dates at Cynical Sphere, (retrieved January 30, 2011)
  14. ^ a b Schetter, Michael. "Interview with Paul Masvidal of Cynic - Prog Sphere – A Different View of Progressive Music". Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  15. ^ Portal page at Cynical Sphere, (retrieved January 30, 2011)
  16. ^ Æon Spoke page at SPV Records, (retrieved March 25, 2011)
  17. ^ "Cynical Sphere". Retrieved 2011-07-17. 
  18. ^ "W:O:A - Wacken Open Air : INTRO". Retrieved 2011-07-17. 
  19. ^ "Cynic - Wheels Within Wheels (Live at Club Soda)‏". YouTube. Retrieved 2011-07-17. 
  20. ^ "Masvidal statement on". Retrieved 2011-07-17. 
  21. ^ Dick, C. Decibel & Cynic Announce Hall of Fame Tour!,, May 19. 2010 (retrieved on January 30, 2011)
  22. ^ Cynic To Tour North America With Intronaut, Dysrhythmia,, May 19, 2010 (retrieved on January 30, 2011)
  23. ^ Cynic online - news,, (retrieved on January 30, 2011)
  24. ^ Legal - Eric Greif, Contact, CYNIC online, (retrieved April 30, 2011)
  25. ^ Cynic Online - news,, (retrieved on January 30, 2011)
  26. ^ "Musician Paul Masvidal on Carbon-Based Anatomy". Metal Sucks. 2011-09-06. Retrieved 2011-09-06. 
  27. ^ Tour,, (retrieved January 5, 2012)
  28. ^ Cynic Online - news,, (retrieved on May 3, 2013)
  29. ^ "Cynic - Tijdlijnfoto's". Facebook. Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  30. ^ Ratliff, B. Critic's Choice: New CDs, The New York Times, November 30, 2008, (retrieved January 30, 2011)


External links[edit]