CYNIC have been a tour de force in progressive metal for decades but lately they’ve been forced to bear far more tragedy than any band should. The recent deaths of two members has left an unfillable hole in the makeup of the band and the scene as a whole, and that tragedy is writ large across their fourth album, Ascension Codes. There are some interesting choices; for one, the bass is played instead with a bass synthesiser, a respectable choice given the circumstances and one that adds an interesting texture to the parts on the album. What Paul Masvidal, with help from Dave Mackay and Matt Lynch, has crafted this time is not just a transcendent piece of progressive music, but one that’s deeply informed by grief, loss and sorrow. Those emotions permeate the record without ever dragging it down into despair, but nevertheless their impact is profoundly felt.