Cynic
Focus


5.0
classic

Review

by Technical101 USER (3 Reviews)
December 24th, 2008 | 27 replies | 6,829 views


Release Date: 1993 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Cynic create a flawless work of art

In 1993 four amazing musicians released one of the defining moments in music history with Focus. Fusing death metal with jazz, speed with passion, aggression with beauty, and the present with the future, Cynic created a highly original work of art that has to be heard to be believed. They weren't the first to mix metal with jazz but they perfected it with their debut album. There are so many new things this band tried but it all worked and came together like it always belonged that way. From programmed drums mixed with Reinert's impressive playing, to jazz-tinged interludes, to death growls mixed with robotic singing, to the occasional female vocals, Focus is all over the place but it doesn't sound inconsistent. The entire album flows easily through every song, never ceasing to amaze from start to finish.

Paul Masvidal − guitar, guitar synthesizer, vocals
Sean Reinert − drums, percussion, keyboards
Jason Gobel − guitar, guitar synthesizer
Sean Malone − bass, Chapman stick
Tony Teegarden − death grunts, keyboards

Guitars: Masvidal and Gobel perfectly intertwine their riffs and melodies around each other creating a deep, detailed sound. They both go in different directions but, when put together, they mesh into one coherent force. Solo duties are shared between the two, usually one each per song, and they're quite capable at doing so. Masvidal and Gobel form an amazing guitar duo, perfectly complimenting each other's strengths. They're use of synthesizers only adds to the all around Cynic sound.

Bass: This is arguably the best bass performance on any metal album ever. Sean Malone plays his fretless bass with precision and perfection. It's always audible and is one of the driving forces of Focus. It adds a smooth feeling rather than the pounding attack of most metal bassists. He also contributes a stunning and masterful bass solo in Textures. His bass playing really is something to behold. On top of that, he also plays a chapman stick in a few tracks, introducing yet another unique aspect of the band. It's almost impossible to describe the amazing work that Malone lays down here...

Drums: Reinert is one of the best drummers out there, in any style of music. He's quite possibly the best member of Cynic as far as mixing the heavy metal playing style with that of traditional jazz. There are no blast beats and he rarely uses the double bass drum, though there are key moments that he injects them to add emphasis to the heavier parts of the album. He skillfully uses accents and fills to keep everything interesting and his cymbal work is astonishing. Malone also encorporated programmed drums on some tracks, that further enhance the futuristic sound and approach they were hoping for.

Vocals: Cynic used not only the typical death growls of Tony Teegarden but Paul Masvidal sang through a vocoder-type effect. These two contrasting styles are split almost perfectly down the middle. Just as the music goes from soft jazzy parts to hard-hitting metal, the two vocal styles transition perfectly from one to another. The growls are not as deep and guttural as most death metal growls but are just as aggressive and add the right atmosphere throughout the album. The synthesized vocals are a clear highlight (in an album full of hightlights), making the music sound decades before it's time (and it was). The full futuristic sound is realized through Masvidal's unique vocals. In addition there are a few instances of some well-timed female vocals that don't feel out of place.

Lyrics: The lyrics range from mystical and spiritual in nature to bettering oneself and various philosophical ideologies. Every song is inspirational in it's own right, something that is rare throughout all metal genres. Cynic were giving the world new ideas and directions with every facet of their music and the lyrics are no exception.

Production: In order for all these amazing musical qualities to perfectly come together there must be a superb production job and that's exactly what we get here. Scott Burns outdid himself with Focus. Every little direction each instrument ventures off into can be perfectly heard and focused on individually. This kind of crystal clear production allows multiple listens just to take in the diverse sounds and arrangements. The guys in Cynic couldn't have asked for a better production job.

Overall Focus is an album for the ages. An album that should forever be remembered for everything it accomplished. Modern bands still haven't caught up to this level of songwriting. This is an absolutely flawless work of art, a masterpiece in every sense of the word.


user ratings (1898)
Chart.
4.3
superb
other reviews of this album
Garrett H. (4.5)
"Focus" is a unique, enjoyable experience that can't really be found anywhere else....

Brendan Schroer (5)
An absolute classic....

Andy H. B. (5)
Cynic's Focus is like Chex Mix. Every earful is different. Simply one of the best progressive metal ...

Bartender EMERITUS (5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Si1v3RfaNg
December 24th 2008


815 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Its wierd, you have very good poetic writing moments, you just don't organize them correctly, creating this wierd mixture of awesome sentences.

I won't neg it or pos, since I'm in between.

bastard
December 24th 2008


3435 Comments


you need not use this format.

I used it like 6 or 7 months ago on two or three reviews, suffice to say, those were my least favorite reviews.

still you say what you need to say most of the time.

magictikkleCwicked
December 24th 2008


272 Comments


Format is decent for this type of band, cool review.

DeathThrashProg
December 24th 2008


500 Comments


Hmm. I think you need some song examples of the features you mention, but i agree with all of your points.
For example you could use Veil of Maya as an example of the use of well timed female vocals.
I like your sentence structure, but try not to use the instrument dissection formula for all reviews. The album as a whole is a much better Focus
See what i did there?

McP3000
December 24th 2008


3941 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i like the number at the top

magictikkleCwicked
December 24th 2008


272 Comments


The 0 out of 1 mirite
This album is like a 0 out of 1.

Psyclone
December 24th 2008


432 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i like your writing style a lot, but the actual format of the review needs to be revised. good work nonetheless.

Wizard
December 24th 2008


19389 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Not too shabby of a review. You nailed keys points and that's what counts, right? Anyways, I would strain away from this type of format (ie. sub-headings like vocals, lyrics, production etc.). Makes it sound like a report hahaha. Oh, and welcome to the site too. Glad to see you're taking risks with some of your reviewed albums.

Digging: Mistigo Varggoth Darkestra - The Key to the Gates of the Apocalypse

willfellmarsy
December 24th 2008


3849 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

best and perfect best and perfect best and perfect best and perfect best and perfect best and perfect best and perfect best and perfect best and perfect best and perfect best and perfect best and perfect best and perfect best and perfect best and perfect best and perfect best and perfect best and perfect best and perfect best and perfect best and perfect

Wizard
December 24th 2008


19389 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album is nowhere near. What's your point?

willfellmarsy
December 24th 2008


3849 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

read review

Wizard
December 24th 2008


19389 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I don't think he exaggerated that much hahaha.

fireaboveicebelow
December 24th 2008


6837 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Modern bands still haven't caught up to this level of songwriting.
bullshit

Lunarfall
December 24th 2008


3179 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this albums ok

DeathThrashProg
December 24th 2008


500 Comments


Merry Christmas fools

bastard
December 24th 2008


3435 Comments


ho ho hos

rattlehead42147
December 25th 2008


1345 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

review doesn't live up to the album tbh
and this may be the only time i agree with silverfang, theres an awkward phrasing going on here that prevents this from being as good as it could be. good for the most part though, if i wasn't so lazy i would write one for this. its my favorite album of all time so i'd like to put my own spin on a review eventually.This Message Edited On 12.25.08

LaidToRest329
December 25th 2008


158 Comments


[quote=review]Paul Masvidal − guitar, guitar synthesizer, vocals
Sean Reinert − drums, percussion, keyboards
Jason Gobel − guitar, guitar synthesizer
Sean Malone − bass, Chapman stick
Tony Teegarden − death grunts, keyboards[/quote]
[quote=review]In 1993 four amazing musicians[/quote]
One of these might be off...

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
December 25th 2008


16088 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yes this album rules.

SylentEcho
December 25th 2008


1570 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm gonna check this out. Nice review.



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