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I'm Chris. I'm 22 years old and I'm into a large variety of music, from Metal in its many forms (mostly the extreme ones) to Goth and Postpunk, Reggae, Jazz, Prog, Techno, Ambient and Film Scores. This is where I rave about albums I really like, and other stuff.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Cynic - Focus

Album review: Cynic - Focus (Roadrunner Records, 1993)
Progressive tech-metal

Let's be honest. This is NOT death metal. If you listen to this album and expect to hear death metal, you will be disappointed. The technicality associated with death metal (particularly early 90s "progressive" death) is there, as are certain elements also associated with death metal such as the distorted guitars and the fact that half the vocals are harsh...but it is not death metal (although to be fair "Uroboric Forms" does come pretty close in parts). Now that is out of the way, Focus can be discussed and taken for what it is - a powerful, impressive blend of progressive, metal, psychedelia and jazz fusion influences. Stylistically you could accuse it of being a bit of a mess - you might not be far off but I think the daring nature of Focus is what makes it work the most.

The musicianship is absolutely top notch. Paul Masvidal (known to many as the other guitarist on Death's seminal "Human") and Jason Gobel's guitar playing is flawless, both rhythm and solos (they are also using guitar synths here), with an abundance of heavy melodic riffs and brilliant clean parts all performed with absolute precision, the start of the song "Textures" in particular reminds me a lot of "Discipline" era King Crimson - too cool. Sean Malone performs fretless bass and Chapman Stick (on a fucking metal album!!! perhaps the first to do this) - contributing some real adventurous and interesting bass lines, with a great tone that is nice and audible in the mix just as it should be...he has to be one of the greatest bass players I've heard. Sean Reinert (who also played on "Human") is simply an awesome drummer - he does use plenty of double kick when the intensity needs to be turned up but on the whole his performance is quite subtle and fascinating with occasional use of synth drums. Paul Masvidal performs the unusual vocoder singing and Tony Teegarden provides the harsh growls with a Schuldiner-esque touch not too uncommon for the time, and there are some female vocals scattered across the album. Scott Burn's production is certainly of its time but everything is there and it isn't too muddy. I can't fault it really.

This album is a real grower, but it doesn't surprise me a lot of typical death metal listeners don't get it. Because it isn't really death metal, rather a landmark achievement in modern progressive music and IMO with "Traced In Air" even they didn't really top this.

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