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Cynic - Focus - 90%

mentalselfmutilation, May 2nd, 2008

A often remarked album in the death metal scene, and metal scene as whole for what it is. Cynic's one and only album from the early 90's was right in the advent of the jazzy progression of death metal in technical structure. Bands like Atheist at the time releasing albums such as Unquestionable Presence and Elements, Bands like Death coming off the legendary Human album, death metal as a whole was beginning to be defined as a genre that it would eventually become. Along comes Cynic to throw a whole wrench into the scene with a single album.

Cynic is not your typical band by any means. While bands like Atheist and Death who at the time were taking the death metal archetype and incorporating technicality and jazz related influences into each album, they remained more or less faithful to the genre's extreme factors rather well. However Cynic takes a completely different route with the entire genre. The much acclaimed and much recognized hallmark of the death metal scene strikes many people for its unique elements. The bass itself becomes a driving force which licks more dominant than the usual you hear from the genre, and definitely defines many passage while the dual guitars are going through your ears with combining and sometimes conflicting guitar passages. Some riffs while not being very brutal very reminding of early death metal in genre in the vain of death, especially during the years of albums like Spiritual Healing or Human, then throwing it around into a sudden melodic passage which fits perfectly, which is something many following bands have yet to accomplish with a half dozen albums while Cynic throws it down perfectly on this one single album.

The musicianship as a whole can be complimented. Not one thing about it seems generic or uninspired. Vocals are far from the usual growls, or even the gutteral grunts reminiscent of the early Florida death metal scene. Sometimes clean though digitalized sounding, other times an attempt at the death metal vocals is made, but not with the same strength and aggression we've come to know and love. The guitars aren't just sweeping back and forth or playing generic tremolos or chugging chord progressions often found commonly with modern death metal. The drums aren't sitting there on generic blast beats or anything, this album is just perfect and in its own world. The musicianship cannot be argued by anyone, and the unique factor of this album still remains to this day 15 years following the original release of this album.

I cannot begin to find a place to look in criticizing this album, everything just takes you at full force and brings you to a place unfamiliar in a genre so structured and defined, while at the same time doing it in a way that isn't otherwise ridiculous or overly pretentious. The single album this band has released has in itself become an overall classic from the early 90s wave of death metal that should be owned by anybody who can find it. Cynic has proven themselves to truly be one of the greatest driving forces of the technical death metal scene!