Music / Cynic

Hey comrade
What will it be like on the day we face our mortal life
We’re all given the misfortune of loss
But that’s a gift we call impermanence
—Cynic, "Nunc Stans"

Describe Cynic here.

A cynic is a follower of the ancient Greek philosophy of Cynicism, which taught that people should live a life of virtue in agreement with nature...

Oh, you mean Cynic the band.

Cynic is a band from Miami, Florida. Their music could best be described as a combination of Progressive Metal, Technical Death Metal, and Jazz Fusion. They were formed in the late 1980s by guitarist/vocalist Paul Masvidal and drummer Sean Reinert (both of whom played in Death at one point) as a Thrash Metal band. A notable early member of Cynic was bassist Tony Choy, who later joined fellow Florida group Atheist. After recording several demos and developing their style more towards their current sound, they signed to Roadrunner Records and recorded their debut album Focus, considered a landmark of Technical Death Metal.

Cynic broke up in late 1994 and the members went on to various other musical projects. Paul and Sean reformed the band with a new line-up in 2006; this was followed by extensive touring, a second album, Traced in Air, and an EP, Re-Traced.

In late 2010 Paul and Sean decided to continue Cynic as a duo and use guest musicians on future recordings. Their third album, Kindly Bent to Free Us, was released on Valentine's Day 2014, and featured their regular session bassist Sean Malone rounding the group out into an effective trio. The sound of the album was radically different from Focus or Traced in Air, with no growled vocals and a stripped-down sound.

In September 2015, Sean Reinert announced on Cynic's official Facebook page that the band has broken up again, due to "artistic and personal differences". However, Paul announced on his personal page shortly afterwards that Reinert did not confer with Paul himself or Sean Malone about the breakup or the subsequent cancellation of the band's European tour, and hopes to be able to continue with a different drummer.

A notable element of Cynic's sound is the use of a vocoder on most of Paul Masvidal's vocals, giving them a robot-like quality. This was originally for practical purposes - Paul was in danger of losing his voice while recording Focus - but has since become part of their signature style.

Cynic bassist Sean Malone has a Progressive Rock and Jazz Fusion band called Gordian Knot.

Not to be confused with The Cynic.


  • '88 Demo (1988) - first demo
  • Reflections of a Dying World (1989) - second demo
  • '90 Demo (1990) - third demo
  • Demo 1991 (1991) - fourth demo
  • Focus (1993) - first album
  • Traced in Air (2008) - second album
  • Re-Traced (2010) - EP with re-arranged versions of four songs from Traced in Air plus one new song
  • Carbon-Based Anatomy (2011) - EP
  • The Portal Tapes (2012) - a reissue of the demo recorded by Portal, a band formed by members of Cynic in the nineties after the latter broke up
  • Kindly Bent to Free Us (2014) - third album


  • Ascended Fanboy: Tymon Kruidiner and Robin Zielhorst were both big fans of the band before they joined.
  • Badass Gay: Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert have both come out as gay.
  • Book Ends: Traced in Air begins with the song "Nunc Fluens" and ends with "Nunc Stans", which are two philosophical views on the nature of time.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: From Focus onwards, the band's album artwork has consisted of various paintings by the psychedelic artist Robert Venosa. It's quite possibly some of the most colorful art you'll ever see in a metal album.
    • Unfortunately, it's possible that may not continue past The Portal Tapes due to Artist Existence Failure, although the band may continue using old artwork of Venosa's for covers of their new releases. He was fairly prolific so that's not out of the question. Kindly Bent to Free Us apparently does this, as it features cover artwork by Venosa.
  • Fading into the Next Song/Fake-Out Fade-Out: Done with "Integral Birth" into "The Unknown Guest". The former fades almost completely out, then the latter starts fading in.
  • I Am the Band: Paul Masivdal and Sean Reinert are the only consistent members, and the rest of the lineup is constantly shuffling.
  • Lighter and Softer: Re-Traced, though not in a bad way. Lyrically Cynic tend more towards positive lyrics about philosophy and spirituality than many of their peers.
    • Focus was this when compared to the demos, which were jazzy technical death/thrash. Focus was just barely death metal and was mostly just prog with a very heavy Mahavishnu influence.
    • Traced in Air was this when compared to Focus, for that matter, and Kindly Bent to Free Us seems to be this compared to both of their previous two full-lengths.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: Re-Traced uses some of the same paintings as Traced in Air, but reduced to line drawings.
  • Mistaken for Romance: Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Most of it ranges around 7-9. Re-Traced is closer to 3-7.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: A mixture of death metal, progressive rock, jazz fusion, ambient, and Latin jazz.
  • Soprano and Gravel: Paul and Tony Teegarden on Focus and Paul and Tymon Krudiner on Traced in Air.
  • Technical Death Metal
  • The Man Behind the Man: Sean Malone doesn't tour with the band due to his teaching and family commitments. He is also noted as being quite introverted.

It was not death
It was not life
It was love