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Cynic - Focus CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.16 | 550 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars Refocusing on a vision. I don't think it's proper to examine Cynic's later albums and EPs without re- examining the group's unique 1993 death metal and jazz fusion debut album Focus. The album may have been genre bending at the time but I think it's safe to say that it was not popular among the death/tech metal crowd or even to the band's record label when it was released (if the prevailing stories are true), which was one of the key reasons for the band's break up one year later. It's eastern mysticism toned lyrics took death metal to quieter places. The combinations of growling lyrics and vocoder enhanced robotic vocals worked well to tell the stories amidst the riffing guitars as brilliant guitar leads were traded song by song by Paul Masvidal and Jason Gobel with Sean Malone revealing himself as a master of innovative fretless bass work as well as Chapman stick while drumming wunderkind Sean Reinert handles the incessant tech style drumming while infusing his own style into his drum work. For someone that's not a big fan of growling vocals, at least these are the type I can tolerate as they are for conveying lyrics and are not just growls for the sake of growling, which I find in many extreme forms of prog metal music. The standout tracks are still Veil Of Maya (probably the album's best),The Eagle Of Nature, I'm But A Wave To.., Urorboric Forms and How Could I. The 2004 remastered album features 3 remixed songs that give greater sound clarity along with 3 songs from the 1994 Portal demos project. I wish that the Portal material was forgone in place of more remixed Focus songs as the Portal material, while interesting, is very different from that of the Focus album, sounding like experimental keyboard based prog rock and are definitely out of place as bonus tracks. Focus is no better or worse than it was when I first listened to it in 1993. It seems to have gotten a bit overrated over time, as most genre defining albums do, but one thing that will never be surpassed is the high level of musicianship that I first encountered with this album. A level of musicianship that few in modern prog metal posses. Focus remains a unique vision that's been unaffected by the passage of time. I believe that single observation is what truly motivated me to write this review in the first place.
SteveG | 4/5 |


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