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Cynic - Focus CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.18 | 534 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars I feel like the band sent me a message with this album: Cynic, focus! So for this review I will be completely serious and will not digress with strange puns or anecdotes.

I've never been one to own, enjoy or recommend albums based on their importance in the development of music. I understand why Jimi Hendrix is arguably the most important guitarist of all time, but his compositional or playing skills have been far out done since his depature from the world, so I see no need to listen to him. I see music as a constantly evolving mass, where artists continue to discover new territory and/or build on the foundations laid out by those who have come before. Sure, some bands from the past reached a level of brilliance that gave their work lasting power even to this day, but to say that no one has been able to do better (or at least achieve similar heights in their own way) is absurd.

Cynic is one of those bands who created a brand new sound but was never able to perfect it. Focus, the group's only release, is a strange blend of death metal, jazz and computerized vocals. The group sports a clear technical prowess, backed by the Sean's Malone and Reinert, who play in ways that no one could have fathomed in metal. Surely it must have been difficult to make such an album as this and even harder to make a masterpiece out of it. When the first track plays, one might be pleasantly surprised at how well it all comes together. "Veil of Maya" is a fantastic song, and worthy of repeated listens up to this day. It's unfortunate, though, that the rest of the album doesn't live up to the groups potential as the first song did. The songs tend to sound empty, probably having a lot to do with the vocals. Death vocals for the sake of having them usually don't work very well. And obviously an electronic voice isn't going to sound natural, and it won't be able to convey emotion very well. Today's technology would have turned the idea out pretty well, but unfortunately it doesn't work out here. The songs in general also lack memorable qualities. I couldn't remember a single track other than the opener on the first listen, but sadly the rest of the material didn't leave me with much of a desire to go back for another spin. Still to this day I have trouble getting through it. It is just too empty in too many places. And the production was just awful!

Due to the unique nature of the album, and the fact that this is the band's only output, people tend to herald this as a masterpiece. Such is not the case. While being important in the history or progressive metal, and displaying a sound that hasn't been attempted exactly by anyone else, it is not as good as it gets. Their next album may very well have been a true masterpiece. If only, if only...

The members of the group have gone on to play in other projects, though. My favorite is, by at least a mile, Gordian Knot. That group features the Sean's and is more melodic and memorable. Nothing at all like Cynic, but much more worth my time.

Moatilliatta | 3/5 |


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