Sean Malone of Cynic dies at 50

11/12/2020 Articles Share


Sad news. Sean Malone, the legendary bass player of Cynic/Gordian Knot/Aghora/Anomaly has died. He was only 50 years old. The cause of his death has still not been revealed. Agoraphobic News team sends condolences to his family, loved ones and all the bands he was involved in. Sean MalonŠµ’s band mate Paul Masvidal issued a statement via his official Facebook regarding his death:

"I learned today that Sean Malone has died. I am numb and grief stricken. He had a brilliant mind, a gracious heart and was one of the greatest musicians I’ve ever encountered. I know that this is a shocking loss for so many fans whose lives he touched with his artistry, as it is for me. Please keep him in your thoughts and listen to his playing to celebrate his life."


Sean Malone was one of the most genuine and innovative bass players in heavy metal. He is cited as being one of the first bass players in the genre that played fretless bass and the chapman stick. Sean Malone also played keyboards, piano, and guitar among other instruments. Sean Malone was the founding member of progressive/technical death metal act Cynic. He played bass and the Chapman stick on all 3 Cynic studio albums: Focus (1993), Traced in Air (2008) and Kindly Bent to Free Us (2018).  Sean Malone released a solo album titled Cortlandt (1996). He also played bass in a progressive metal act Anomaly on the album of the same name – Anomaly (1998) which also featured the legendary Sean Reinert on the drums (REST IN PEACE). Sean Malone also played bass on Gordian Knot’s progressive rock debut album Gordian Knot (1999). Gordian Knot featured numerous legendary musicians such as John Myung (Dream TheaterPlatypusThe Jelly Jam), Trey Gunn (King CrimsonKTU), Ron Jarzombek (Spastic InkBlotted ScienceWatchtower), Sean Reinert (CynicDeathAghora) and others. Gordian Knot’s 2nd album Emergent is the only project that had all Cynic band members in it. The 2nd album featured musicians such as Jason Göbel (ex-Cynic), Jim Matheos (Fates WarningOSIArch/Matheos), Steve Hackett (ex-Genesis), Steve Hackett (ex-Genesis) and others.


Sean Malone and Sean Reinert were also band mates in a progressive metal/jazz fusion act Aghora, on their selftitled 2000 debut Aghora. In addition, Sean Malone had bass duties in a progressive metal/rock band OSI between 2002-2004.

Sean Malone was influenced by progressive, rock, jazz fusion, bossa nova, brit pop. Sean Reinert joined Cynic in 1993 by replacing Tony Choy on bass duties. Sean Malone was also an author of 4 books: "Music Theory for Bassists""Dictionary Of Bass Grooves""Rock Bass", and "A Portrait of Jaco: The Solos Collection" (a book of transcriptions of Jaco Pastorius' bass solos) which were released for Hail Leonard Corporation. Sean Malone was also an academic musician who published papers and made presentations for Society for Music Theory, The International Conference of Music and Gesture, and The Glenn Gould Conference. He also taught music at the University of Central Missouri and Carnegie Mellon University where he was an assistant professor of music theory.

Cynic was reformed in 2008 when the band released Traced in Air. Sean Malone didn’t tour for that album due to his academic obligations. In 2011, Sean Malone also played bass on Cynic’s Carbon Based Anatomy EP.

On the Focus album, Sean Malone played  Kubicki Factor 4-string fretless bass. Later, he used Ibanez GWB1 5-string fretless during the Gordian Knot and Cynic's Traced In Air era. He was endorsing Ibanez and started playing a custom fretless Ibanez SR5005E 5-string, most notably on Kindly Bent to Free Us.

Sean Malone was only 50 years old. He will be missed. Sadly, his death was preceded by the death of Sean Reinert.

His musical discography is the following:



Focus (1993)
Traced in Air (2008)
Carbon-Based Anatomy (2011)
Kindly Bent to Free Us (2014)


Solo & Gordian Knot

Sean Malone - Cortlandt (1996)
Gordian Knot – Gordian Knot (1999)
Gordian Knot – Emergent (2003)



Aghora – Aghora (2000)
OSI – Office of Strategic Influence (2003)


As a guest

Roadrunner United – The All Star Sessions (bass on "Dawn Of a Golden Age")
Spiral Architect – A Sceptic's Universe (chapman stick on "Occam's Razor")
Spastic Ink – Ink Compatible (bass on "In Memory Of...")
Anomaly – Anomaly (bass on "Art of War")


Partial discography and other work[edit]

Cygnus & The Sea Monsters – One Night in Chicago

John Wesley – Under the Red and White Sky (1994)

John Wesley – The Closing of the Pale Blue Eyes (1995)

James LaBrie – Prime Cuts

Clockwork – Surface Tension (1999)

Freak Neil Inc. – Characters (2005)

After the Storm – A Benefit for the Survivors of Hurricane Katrina

Sensory Records Sampler CD: “Singularity” from Gordian Knot

Tappistry Volume 2 Compilation – ToeTappin’ Records “Redemption’s Way” with Greg Howard

Open Mic Volume 1 Compilation – Thoroughbred Music “Madman”

Bass Talk Volume 5 Compilation – HotWire Records (Germany) “Deep Blue”

Working Man, A Tribute to Rush – Magna Carta Records

Tappistry: Volume 1, Compilation ToeTappin’ Records

Jim Studnicki: The Second Day

Guitars That Rule the World Compilation: “Explosion”

Curtis Bell: The ABC’s of Song

Southeastern Music Conference Compilation: Todd Grubbs “French Toast”

Randy Goodgame: Randall Goodgame – Red Fish Records

Notes From the Underground: Guitar World Magazine

Lance Rowland: Prince, Poet, Prisoner

Guitar Magazine Compilation CD: “Size 5 Lightning Boots”

Curtis Bell: Sojourner- Independent

Robert Wegmann: Red Hair- Fumiko Records

Tim Mullally: Mountain Hike (independent)

Todd Grubbs: Combination- Appollon International (Japan)

Steel Tears: Palma Negra R&R Records

Southeastern Music Conference Compilation, Steel Tears:

Smashmouth: Seed (independent)

Robert Wegmann: The Wild Party-Fumiko Records

groovediggers: groovediggers (independent)

Steel Tears: Steel Tears-R&R Records


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