"'88 Demo" is, just as the name suggests, an 1988 cassette demo tape by US technical/progressive death metal act Cynic. While it wouldn´t be until 1993 that Cynic released their debut full-length studio album "Focus", they were rather busy in the intermediate years. Cynic recorded 4 demos and played as session musicians on many metal albums by other artists (Death, Pestilence, Master, Monstrosity, Atheist) before getting a record contract with Roadrunner Records. The last demo was recorded for Roadrunner Records in 1991. This demo from 1988 is the first demo Cynic released.
The music is on the demo is in the vein of Bay Area mid- to late eighties thrash metal ala Forbidden, Vio-Lence and Testament. The technical/progressive death metal influences that are present on "Focus", are not a part of the band´s sound yet and wouldn´t be until the third demo. The thrash metal sound are mostly due to Jack Kelly´s raw voice and his singing style, but the guitar riffs also point in a thrash metal direction. The tracks aren´t that memorable and the songwriting is obviously a bit imature at this point.
The musicians are not that accomplished yet, which is probably due to their young age. Sean Reinert sticks out a bit though as his drumming is pretty competent even this early on.
The sound production is pretty noisy and lo-fi. It´s very typical for eighties metal cassette demos, so it´s really no surprise. Especially the bass has an odd sound, that are really distracting when trying to figure out what Cynic want to do with their music. The guitar sounds very weak too.
I´d say this demo is only for the really hardcore fans and even some of those fans probably won´t be able to appreciate the demo. Personally I like the bay Area thrash metal style and enjoy this demo moderately and I´ll rate it with a 2 star (40%) rating.