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Cynic - Focus CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.19 | 503 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars From the late 80's early 90's burgeoning Floridian technical death metal scene comes this one album band... But this is no mere metal album. Focus was, and remains to this day, one of the most groundbreaking metal albums ever made. Not only were they the first to blend metal with jazz (complete with fretless bass and all), but to add a new age and fusion flavor to an already improbable mix and actually make it work ? Who else managed that ?

From the first seconds of the album, you know you are facing something unique. Metal punches on jazz chords with keyboards (or synth guitars), electronic AND acoustic drums, and a robotic voice... That voice annoyed many, but not me, I found it to be fitting and original. After a drum driven intro, the band dives head first in metal territory with 'Veil Of Maya'... but wait, do I hear a jazz break ? From death brutality to jazz subtlety, without distorted guitars, but beautifully interwoven clean guitar parts, fretless bass and jazz drum motifs, and back to metal again ?

That's what we are treated with here (treat is the right word) throughout the album. The musicianship on this album has yet to be surpassed by ANYONE in prog metal territory (Dream Who?). The riffs are monstrous, the interplay between the two guitars (either clean or distorted) unmatched and highly creative, the drums are mind-boggling and diverse, from electronic to acoustic drums, from full on double bass drums beats masterfully executed and tight as... well you think of something tight (!!!), to wonderfully light jazz patterns, the jazzy fretless bass parts (handled by bassist extraordinaire Sean Malone, who would later play with Gordian Knot and on O.S.I.'s excellent debut album) incorporated in death metal music was unheard of and TRULY original, and even if it's been done by others since then, it was never even close to what Malone pulled off on this album.

I don't know if it's because Cynic only released one album that they became a cult classic, but let there be no doubt in your mind about the quality of this album. Rarely have I taken such a trip listening to metal (apart from Opeth, of course), and rarely have I been so amazed with each and every song on one release.

A five star album, timeless, classic, 100% original and flawlessly executed. A shame they never released anything else, but in a sense I understand, how in the world could they have topped Focus ?

Melomaniac | 5/5 |


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