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Cynic - Focus CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.19 | 503 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars CYNIC had surely the potential to be an amazing band. They released only one album which has been heralded as a masterpiece for a long time. I think the album is good, it's important in the history of metal, but it's not as great as many people think.

For sure, the musicians are terrific, and we get constant displays of prowess throughout the album. Of special importantce in my view is the rhythmic section: Reinert and Malone really push the boundaries of extreme music with techniques that weren't so popular in metal music at the time when Focus was released. We can hear lots of amazing playing out of these two guys who are the backbone and the most interesting part of this album.

The guitar playing is skillful, in a way innovative, but the sound of the whole album (even in its remaster) it's not clear enough to let me appreciate the 6-string work. I hear a lot of riffs (that remind me of DEATH; this was their biggest fountain of inspiration I guess) played at increible speeds but not much in the way of melodies. Well, this is extreme metal after all, melody is not the main point of this genre (but there are plenty of extreme albums out there that don't forget to include good tunes). There are some interesting textures, but again, it's all a little bit noisy.

I have two big problems with this album (and mostly with all extreme/tech metal): the vocals and the songs. Some extreme/tech bands have great vocalists but weak songs, some have better songs and awful vocalists. This one has a little bit of the bad side of both.

The vocals are plain annoying. There's two kinds: some growling (high-pitched, which I usually tolerate less than deep growling a la OPETH) and some electronically-produced voice which sounds kind of cool at the beginning, but wears out quickly as it's the blandest voice ever heard. It has no tone, no key, no nothing. It's like a true computer voice, with no soul. I'm not saying that's not an interesting idea, to devoid the music of any soul; but when the rest of the music is also so tune-less, the whole experience gets difficult to swallow.

Another problem I have is the song structure. Other than Veil of Maya (which really stands out miles above the rest of the package) I can't seem to recall any other one, try as I might. They're chaotic, and the noise doesn't help to tell any structure apart. Veil of Maya it's a masterpiece of extreme metal, but we can't survive this whole recording with just one song.

An influential album, an essential album in any extreme/tech metal fan's collection, but not masterpiece of music. I give it 3 stars as there's not enough music for me.

A second album by this group would've been a masterpiece, somehow I'm sure of that... Sadly, we'll never know.

The T | 3/5 |


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