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Cynic - Focus CD (album) cover

FOCUS

Cynic

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.22 | 399 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

FloydWright
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Come chill out and relax to...death metal??!

Strange as it sounds, there's no question. CYNIC's Focus deserves every bit of the "hype" it's getting here on ProgArchives. Before adding my own rating the average is 4.88, and I'm about to send it up just a touch higher. Especially if you like OPETH or VOIVOD, this is an absolute must-have; your collection of prog-metal is incomplete without it. Even if you are not as much into prog-metal, I think it's worth a try if you're willing to be adventurous and get yourself used to the death vocals that appear through some of the songs. This album has only a few small weaknesses--the sound quality is not what a bigger band would have, and I wish some of the songs were longer. The death vocals aren't that bad, either, but can take a little bit of getting used to at first...but they are complemented very nicely by computerized vocals (yes, you read that right), and some other singing.

Lyrically...I think this album would prove attractive to many who are put off by the darker content of some metal. They center around Eastern spirituality, and even if this is not your faith, it makes for some pleasant reading and meditation as you listen to Focus. But the real focus on this album is the musicianship, which is outstanding. My favorite among the musicians is bassist SEAN MALONE, whose style reminds me quite a bit of JOHAN DE FARFALLA, formerly of OPETH. DE FARFALLA played on Orchid and Morningrise--and I actually found myself thinking of Morningrise quite frequently while listening to Focus in other aspects besides the bass work. If you liked Morningrise-era OPETH, then you are really missing out by not listening to this. Metalheads will also enjoy the incredible speed demonstration in "Uroboric Forms" by drummer SEAN REINERT.

The music itself reminds me of what VOIVOD only wishes it could be--at times dissonant but still managing to be melodic and flowing...sometimes brutally heavy, but always gorgeous. The opening track, "Veil of Maya" does a good job of setting the tone for the entire album and demonstrating this style--but don't make the mistake of thinking all of the songs follow the exact same formula. And even though they're short for the most part, you'll feel as if you've been listening much longer...and I mean that in the best way possible. "I'm But a Wave to..." is a fantastic demonstration of CYNIC's ability to walk the line between dissonance and melody without ever managing to cross too far as VOIVOD did on Nothingface, and for this it's one of my very favorite songs on the album. There's a very "spacey", atmospheric, almost psychedelic feel to many of the softer sections, such as the outro to "The Eagle Nature" and the beginning of "Sentiment", which seems a bit creepy at first until you realize that the words being spoken are really a very positive sort of sentiment. Another standout is "Textures", which actually manages to incorporate a fusion/jazz feel, complete with Rhodes keyboard synth!

If you are at all into prog-metal, you must find a way to track down a copy of this. OPETH fans especially...don't miss out; believe the hype!

FloydWright | 5/5 |

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