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Cynic - Focus CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.16 | 551 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars |B| A staple in the history of the jazz-fusion death metal scene.

An excellent addition to any prog collection indeed! The album Focus is the debut of the well-known band from the jazz-fusion/death metal scene called Cynic. It was forged in the early-mid nineties, when this sort of metal was most popular in the metal scene, hence the uprising of bands like Atheist, Pestilence, and Death. There is a great variation of sound on the work: metal with styles of speed, death growls, and technicality, and progressive jazz-fusion with clean chorused-guitar, asymmetric meter, clean vocals with effects, and complex composition.

The musicianship here is staggering. There is a studio split of two guitars, and the bass is fret-less (!) and you have alternating usage of the death vocals and clean vocals, which is very charming. Many of the electric guitar riffs have the double picked riffs (where the rhythm is sixteenth notes while the melodic riff is eighths), very characteristic even in the band, including in their follow up album Traced in Air. The composition is often head spinning, usually either sounding like a fast version of Death or a sort of prog-rock sounding Chick Corea, and everything in between. This is an album that definitely takes multiple listens to understand very well, to say the least. This music would be incredibly fun to play for the few who would be skilled enough to play it decently.

To compare to the recently released follow up Traced in Air, this album is definitely on the heavier side (the band became much more tame on their follow up), more technical and less melodic. However, the riffs and composition overall is superior and more interesting in the opinion of this reviewer. While Tranced in Air probably has a few tracks that certainly are up to par, the overall album is less consistent in quality. The only even slightly mediocre tracks on Focus are "Eagle Nature"and "I'm But a Wave To..." and the rest are superb, my favorite being Textures, a very fun and complicated heavy jazz-fusion piece.

This is an album every fan of progressive metal ought to hear, and is essential to the fan of the jazz-fusion/death metal era from the nineties.

Isa | 4/5 |


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