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Focus

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Average Rating
★★★★½
(25 Reviews)

Cynic Biography - Cynic Discography - All Heavy Metal Bands

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No Description AvailableNo Track Information AvailableMedia Type: CDArtist: CYNICTitle: FOCUSStreet Release Date: 10/05/2004<Domestic or Import: DomesticGenre: ROCK/POP

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  • If you enjoy innovative music and appreciate the craft, you will love this album. For some people it had to grow on them and I totally understand why. For me, I had parts of many songs stuck in my head after the second listen. This album is simultaneously a celebration of metal and a tribute to jazz. It’s almost like they wanted to say “I know you think metal is all regurgitated and uninspired so listen to what we (metal musicians) can really do. We know where we come from.”

    If you like good music buy this album. If you do not like good music (ask your buddies), buy two copies so that after you’ve been transformed you can help one of your friends.

    Posted on November 28, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • This is one of those lesser known metal CD’s that just blew me away in the 90’s. Amazing compositions that combine many different styles, from metal to progressive, not to mention all the acoustic break downs. Many of the songs are epic, and everyone gets to display their talents; The drums and bass are especially of note! And while the ’synth-style’ vocals at times can be repetitious, I really can’t complain about this CD at all. The remaster has done this CD justice; It seems like a lot of care went into it, and the bonus tracks are a very welcome addition. If you have the original CD, I would recommend picking up the newer version to check out. I think you will find it rewarding. And if you haven’t heard this CD, and you like heavy experimental metal, this should bring a smile to your face!!

    Posted on November 28, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I honestly can’t think of another instance where a band had released a genre-defining album and just faded away. Imagine if Queensryche had debuted with Operation: Mindcrime and then broke up. That’s similar to what happened with Cynic. They released Focus in 1993, bringing a whole new dimension to both the death and progressive metal genres, and then drifted away.

    It’s hard to adequately describe this album. The band had amazing technical prowess, and they used it to create a death metal album that would make a Dream Theater fan’s jaw drop. I’m not talking about Malmsteen-esque guitar heroics either. Cynic’s style owed more to jazz fusion than shredding, and the result was this free-flowing, yet highly technical sonic platter. And while it was highly technical, it is still very enjoyable and easy to listen to. Sometimes a band will go all out on technical showmanship and forget to write songs (see Spiral Architect). Fortunately that is not the case here. Focus can be appreciated on many levels. Prog fans will marvel at the musicianship and death metal fans should appreciate the uniqueness Cynic brought to the genre, even if they weren’t as aggressive as most death metal bands tended to be. After Focus was released, the band split up. Some of the members resurfaced in bands like OSI and Gordian Knot, but the now-legendary Cynic was never heard from again.

    Focus is an absolutely essential album for anyone who is a fan of death and/or progressive metal. It’s just a breathtaking listening experience, and when you hear it you can “see” the blueprint for just about every technical metal band that followed.

    Edition Notes: In 2004, Roadrunner took a great album and made it even better. The re-released version of Focus features remastered sound, 3 remixed tracks, and 3 demo tracks from a Cynic offshoot called Portal. The remixes really don’t add much, but the Portal demos are quite cool. Featuring female vocals, they have almost a Cynic-meets-The Gathering sound. I give it my highest possible recommendation.

    Posted on November 28, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • What?? No one has reviewed this masterpiece yet?
    For those who don’t know, Cynic started out w/ two Demos before they released “Focus”. The demos had none of the jazz fusion breakdowns that Focus had become famous for. Surprisingly only one track from those demos made it on to Focus. Hunt down the demo tracks because they are well worth hearing (there is a demo on one of the “At Death’s Door” comp cd’s).
    This might be an album that takes a few listens to absorb all that is encompassing your ears. The drumming by Sean Reinhert is some of the best death metal drumming ever. His unique blend of death metal style and jazz fusion makes the drums certainly an instrument of their own in case anyone ever had doubts. Bassist Sean malone switches between bass and chapman stick. His talent is as equal to Reinerts in the fantastic ways they have paced their songs coming in at the right time but in a unique way. The two guitarists (Gobel & Masvidal) have the most memorable licks and chops out there. I can’t remember the last time I was so enthralled with the guitar sound other then when I first heard Fates Warning.
    the bonus tracks on here (other than the three remixes) are surprisgly taken from the post-Focus project “Portal” with a girl singer. The tracks are much more lighter and airy…I have NO idea why they didn’t choose trax from their “Reflections of a Dying World” demo …..but who knows.
    The latest I’ve heard from them now is a group called Aeon Spoke but sadly it is mainstream sounding compared to the almighty Cynic.
    Anyone in to to the Florida death scene or a fan of Meshuggah, Candiria, Fates warning, Death, Spastic Ink, Mahavishnu Orchestra or any other great prog project should check this out ASAP.

    Posted on November 28, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • REVIEW OF REMASTER: …now it actually sounds GOOD! For an album that had SO much going on, it really sucked to have such a compressed sound with the instruments, vocals, and drums all meshed together. Now you can hear everything. Guitars are seperated left and right nicely. The vocals are front and center and the drums and bass are nice and tight behind everything. The keyboards are everywhere they need to be. Enveloping at times. It gives the album a 3D quality to it. This is the kind of album that deserves to be listened to in a big movie theater on an amazing cd player (maybe a $20,000 Linn Sondek CD12 Anyone?) and amazing speakers with HUGE 5.1 surround sound. But since you can’t do that, a nice home setup still makes it sound infinitely better than the original. If there was ever any doubt in my mind what the best metal (not just death metal anymore) album of the 90’s was, this remaster just cleared that doubt up.

    As for the bonus tracks, i disagree with the first reviewer that said the remixes barely sound different. Maybe my ears are trained to hear differences in sound and tone better (from playing guitar all these years), but i can definitely hear a differece. The remixes have a MUCH more “in your face” quality to them. As a result, alot of the ethereal beauty is taken away. Guitarists, drummers, and the people who like the more headbanging /Vetal moments on the album will probably like these remixes better than the originals. It’s too bad they didn’t do Uroboric Forms in this manner, as i’ve always considered it the most metal song on the album.

    The three new tracks, as the first reviewer mentioned, are not Cynic, and not metal at all. They’re still really cool and if you ever thought Cynic’s softer, jazzier, moodier moments would make really good songs on their own, you’ll no doubt like these tracks.

    Anyway, this remaster is DEFINITELY worth picking up for fans of the album, even if you already own the original. The improvement in sound quality is IMMENSE and the extra tracks are just icing on the already perfect cake.

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    REVIEW OF ALBUM: The 90’s were certainly the apex for death metal. Between the years of 1990 and 1999 death metal evolved from an un-melodic, testosterone fueled, raw form of metal to a genre that matured and began incorporating prog rock, jazz, electronica, and even classical into the music.

    Death kicked the door down with the release of “Human” in `91. At the time it was easily the most ambitious death metal album ever and helped pave the way for a new breed of death metal bands that were actually intelligent as well as incredibly brutal. `93 saw the release of Sepultura’s masterpiece, “Chaos A.D.” and Death’s brilliant follow up to “Human”, called “Individual Thought Patterns”. In `94 Tiamat’s “Wildhoney” broke new grounds in death metal by experimenting with psychedelic, ethereal, and even beautiful Pink Floyd-esque soundscapes and melodies that showed death metal didn’t have to be ALL about pure aggression.

    `95 was unquestionably the biggest year death metal had ever seen. Meshuggah’s “Destroy Erase Improve” literally shattered the concept of what “progressive death metal” could be with its mathematical riffs, bass, drums and vocals. At The Gates “Slaughter of the Soul”, Dark Tranquility’s “The Gallery” and In Flames’ “The Jester’s Race” all broke new melodic ground, with each featuring a unique take on the genre and all being undisputed masterpieces.

    But despite all of that, perhaps the pinnacle of the decade was Cynic’s 1993 stunning tour de force “Focus”. “Focus” was unlike anything that had come before or after it. With one album, Cynic created a sound and music that was so original and so staggeringly amazing that no death metal band has equaled it since.

    “That’s a pretty big claim” you say… well, yes it is, but it’s all very true. Cynic threw in everything but the kitchen sink on “Focus”, seamlessly melding progressive death metal, distorted jazz riffs, solos, and often drumming. Then came the biggest innovation: the interplay between the computerized voice that “sings” half the lyrics and the more traditional death metal growls.

    But all of that wouldn’t matter if the songs themselves weren’t good. And the songs on “Focus” AREN’T good, they’re amazing! It just takes one listen to “Veil of Maya” before you realize how truly talented & original these guys are. Through the entire album, there are NO weak spots whatsoever.

    That being said, picking a favorite song or moment is almost an exercise in futility. “Veil of Maya” is perhaps the catchiest song on the album. “Celestial Voyage” is beautiful, heavy, and complex. “I’m But a Wave Too…” is perhaps MY personal favorite. It builds on ethereal, jazzy guitars (one clean, one distorted, and one using feedback like sounds to create texture) before exploding into a series of mind-blowing riffs. “Textures” is a great instrumental that never loses `focus’ (hehe) and will keep your attention throughout. The closer, “How Could I”, is perhaps the most varied song on the album, shifting effortlessly between styles to create a perfect portrait of the entire album.

    It’s such a shame this was the band’s only album. I can only imagine where they could’ve taken this fascinating sound with future releases. I seriously can’t recommend this album to metal fans enough. Also, if you’re a fan of “Focus”, check out all the other albums I’ve listed in the review, along with Opeth’s entire catalog (they happen to be my favorite band of all time). A good start would be “My Arms, Your Hearse” or “Still Life”. And I can’t forget to mention Death’s “The Sound of Perseverance”.

    May metal be as spectacular in the 21st century as it was in the last decade of the 20th.

    Posted on November 27, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now