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Cynic - Focus CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.16 | 547 ratings

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Time Signature
5 stars Textures...

"Focus" was really different from anything else released within the extreme metal scene of the early 90s, and, like Death and Atheist, Cynic managed to come up with something unique and ahead of its time. In fact, "Focus" was som much ahead of its time that a lot of people just didn't get it, which is one of the factors leading to the band splitting up shortly after the release of the album.

Listening to "Focus" with its ever driving complex metal riffage and very clear influences from jazz fusion (and there's enough jazz fusion there for the term jazz metal to be a fitting one, I think) and the mix of Paul Masvidal's robotized high pitched vocals and death growls is probably a challenging experience to both metalheads and jazz fans alike. Fortunately for me, I was able to appreciate "Focus" upon first listen.

I totally love the robotized vocals, which, I might add, are very popular in mainstream pop and R 'n' B music now (another indicator of Cynic being ahead of their time), and the dynamics between this type of vocals and death growls just works wonderfully. The guitar riffs are merciless and extremely complex and incorporate many unusual (at least to the listener who is not into jazz) jazz chords, while Sean Reinert's drumming is dynamic and add a whole other percussive element to the album. Also, the bass lines, rather than being clones the guitar riffs, often consist of independent ostinatos, and, luckily, the bass is audible enough for the listener to be able to hear and appreciate this. Another force of the album is the way many of the compositions oscillate between overdriven and crystal clear clean guitar sections, creating an interesting dynamic tension.

Especially mentionable songs are "Veil of Maya", "The Eagle Nature", "Uroboric Forms" (my favorite) and the jazz fusion-based "Textures" (my other favorite).

I'd recommend this album to any fan of Atheist and Pestilence's "Spheres" as well as any open-minded adventurous fan of metal, progressive rock and jazz fusion.

Time Signature | 5/5 |


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