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Is this it...? - 60%

capeda, May 21st, 2003

I heard so much about this album before I ever heard it. I heard allegations like "Cynic is the most technical band on the planet" and "Cynic sounds like three Dream Theater discs playing simultaneously if Petrucci had 6 arms and 3 guitars."

....So OBVIOUSLY, I was very disappointed after listening to the whole album. There isn't even any odd-time signatures on the first half of the disc, and it really doesn't touch Dream Theater in terms of technicality (I guess most people are biased against that band for some reason!). Sure, the drum-performance is pretty stellar, and the bass-performance is quite good (one of Sean Malone's worst performances, although still awesome). There isn't really any impressive riffs guitarwise, though. It's cool that Masvidal and Gobel often play parts on guitar that are not parallel (something that most metal guitarists don't do), but none of the riffs are of high quality. There is also some good dynamics... death metal riffs interlaced with clean guitar and synth breaks... but it gets pretty tired by the end of the album, as most of the songs follow the same formula: heavy, light, heavy, light, solo, etc. Many of these tracks are TOO FUCKING SHORT, as well. Why did Cynic want to cram good ideas into little packages? If they would have developed their ideas and songs a bit more and drawn them out longer (around five to eight minutes each would suffice), I may have given Focus a better score. Anyways, this album is not without redeeming value, though, as some of the guitar solos are damn near impossible to conceive, let alone play.

My favorite track is probably the instrumental track, Textures. It features a neat bass solo by Malone, and an all around great performance by the rest of the band.

In closing, this album is decent, but FAR from essential. If you want good progressive metal, check out maudlin of the Well. If you want technical, dynamic stuff, check out Spiral Architect and Dillinger Escape Plan. In my opinion, those bands feature far better and more engaging songwriting.