CYNIC

Progressive Metal / Death Metal / Technical Death Metal / Metal Related • United States
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Formed in Florida, United States in 1987, Cynic is a progressive metal band that recorded a few thrash metal demos before moving to a highly complex form of jazz-fusion influenced experimental/avant-garde death metal, manifested in their seminal album, 1993's Focus, which for over a decade was the band's only official release.

Cynic disbanded in 1994 due to artistic differences while working on their second album, but regrouped in 2007 to perform a series of shows. The reunion was successful, with the group also performing a new song, entitled Evolutionary Sleeper, a composition in the unique style of Focus. This was a harbinger of things to come, as the group recorded two additional tracks, Integral Birth and Adam's Murmur and then signed a contract with Season of Mist for two albums. Their second album, Traced in Air, was released on November 17, 2008 in Europe and November 25, 2008 in North
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Focus (Remaster)Focus (Remaster)
Remastered · Extra tracks
Roadrunner Records 2004
$13.13
$8.13 (used)
TRACED IN AIRTRACED IN AIR
Season of Mist 2012
$9.98
$10.98 (used)
Traced In Air RemixedTraced In Air Remixed
Season of Mist 2019
$12.06
Uroboric Forms - The Complete Demo RecordingsUroboric Forms - The Complete Demo Recordings
Special Edition
Century Media 2017
$4.51
$8.42 (used)
Kindly Bent to Free UsKindly Bent to Free Us
Season of Mist 2014
$6.84
$4.47 (used)
Re-TracedRe-Traced
Season of Mist 2012
$4.58
$1.68 (used)
CARBON BASED ANATOMYCARBON BASED ANATOMY
Season of Mist 2012
$4.22
$4.41 (used)
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CYNIC Discography

CYNIC albums / top albums

CYNIC Focus album cover 4.07 | 65 ratings
Focus
Technical Death Metal 1993
CYNIC Traced in Air album cover 4.06 | 56 ratings
Traced in Air
Progressive Metal 2008
CYNIC Kindly Bent To Free Us album cover 3.67 | 15 ratings
Kindly Bent To Free Us
Progressive Metal 2014

CYNIC EPs & splits

CYNIC Re-Traced album cover 3.48 | 15 ratings
Re-Traced
Metal Related 2010
CYNIC Carbon-Based Anatomy album cover 3.75 | 20 ratings
Carbon-Based Anatomy
Progressive Metal 2011

CYNIC live albums

CYNIC demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

CYNIC '88 Demo album cover 2.15 | 5 ratings
'88 Demo
Death Metal 1988
CYNIC Reflections of a Dying World album cover 2.11 | 5 ratings
Reflections of a Dying World
Death Metal 1989
CYNIC '90 Demo album cover 2.50 | 4 ratings
'90 Demo
Death Metal 1990
CYNIC Demo 1991 album cover 3.06 | 5 ratings
Demo 1991
Death Metal 1991
CYNIC Promo 08 album cover 3.00 | 4 ratings
Promo 08
Progressive Metal 2008

CYNIC re-issues & compilations

CYNIC The Portal Tapes album cover 3.28 | 5 ratings
The Portal Tapes
Non-Metal 2012

CYNIC singles (1)

.. Album Cover
3.58 | 2 ratings
Humanoid
Progressive Metal 2018

CYNIC movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

CYNIC Reviews

CYNIC Focus

Album · 1993 · Technical Death Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
UMUR
"Focus" is the debut full-length studio album by US, Florida based progressive metal act Cynic. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in September 1993. Cynic had been around since 1987 though, and had been an integral part of the early Florida death metal scene, releasing no less than four demo cassette tapes in the years 1988-1991. It took a while to find the right label and get signed, and the release of "Focus" was further delayed by the session work/touring that the members of the band did for/with other acts in the early 90s. Original bassist Tony Choy (who was replaced by Sean Malone for the recording of "Focus") recorded with both Pestilence and Atheist (and eventually joined and toured with the latter), guitarist Jason Gobel recorded the "Imperial Doom (1992)" album with Monstrosity, and drummer Sean Reinert and lead vocalist/guitarist Paul Masvidal recorded the "Human (1991)" album with Death and subsequently toured with Death in support of the album. Masvidal also recorded guitars for the "On the Seventh Day God Created... Master (1991)" album by Master. So they were definitely a busy bunch in those years.

So Cynic were known as a death metal act and therefore the sound on "Focus" came as a bit of a surprise to the contemporary death metal community. Stylistically the album features occasional death metal heaviness and aggressive snarling vocals (courtesy of session vocalist Tony Teegarden from Epitaph as Masvidal had serious issues with his voice and couldn´t record the extreme type vocals for the album), but there is a major jazz/fusion influence in both the choice of notes/chords, the guitar solos, and the on the drumming style. Add to that Masvidal´s robotic vocoder delivered "clean" vocals and spiritual/philosophical lyrics and a generally ambient ethereal atmosphere to the music, and "Focus" is anything but a regular early 90s US death metal release. The fact that they were often refered to as a death metal act, when a label like technical/progressive metal would probably have been more appropriate, and they ended up touring in support of Cannibal Corpse and receiving quite a hostile reaction from many audiences at the time, were probably contributing factors when they decided to call it quits already in 1994. They did reach an audience who praised the bold originality of the album, but "Focus" has become more retrospectively recognized than it ever was upon release. Not completely unlike the story of "Spheres (1993)" by Pestilence. The contemporary metal scene apparently weren´t ready for that revolution yet.

"Focus" is an exceptionally strong and original sounding release though. The alien sounding vocoder vocals are probably an aquired taste, but they create an almost futuristic sounding counterweight to the raw snarling vocals, and provide the album with a very distinct vocal sound. Guitar synthesizers are also used (so what sounds like keyboards on the album are actually guitars played through synth effects) and further enhances the feeling that you are listening to something completely alien. The two guitarists play different guitar lines, chords, leads/rhythms constantly, and are complimented by the fretless bass playing, and the ever changing time signatures and rhythms. It´s multi harmony and rhythmically very complex music.

"Focus" was recorded at Morrisound Recording in Tampa, Florida with producer Scott Burns, and while he successfully captures the essence of heaviness, the album does feature a slightly thin sounding production job. It´s mostly the distorted guitars which could have prospered from a more meaty tone, but on the other hand, it is a sound production, where the listener is able to hear all details. Overall the sound production suits the music well.

The material on the 8 track, 36:13 minutes long album are well written, quite catchy and melodic for music as complex as this generally is. It´s a varied and dynamic album too, where each track stand out as something special and outstanding. Tracks like "Veil of Maya", "I'm but a Wave to...", and "How Could I" are all tracks featuring both atmospheric acoustic moments and more aggressive heavy moments (the latter also features one of the most beautiful guitar solos (the closing solo) I´ve ever heard), while tracks like "Sentiment" and "Textures" stand out for other reasons. "Sentiment" is an atmospheric track with spiritual lyrics and "Textures" is an instrumental jazz/fusion track (with some metal elements).

Upon conclusion "Focus" is a unique release. It was unique in 1993 and it´s unique today. Sure there had been other artists like Watchtower, Sieges Even, and Atheist, who before Cynic did, had incorporated jazz/fusion elements to their brand of metal, but Cynic still managed to create their own sound with a focus on atmosphere/spiritual ambience. It´s not only a unique release it´s also an outstanding one and a 5 star (100%) rating is deserved.

CYNIC The Portal Tapes

Boxset / Compilation · 2012 · Non-Metal
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UMUR
"The Portal Tapes" is a full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Cynic. The album was released through Season of Mist in March 2012. It´s not really a Cynic album though and it was probably only released under the Cynic monicker to capitalize on the wave of success that Cynic were riding after their comeback in 2006. The material featured on "The Portal Tapes" were originally recorded under the Portal monicker after Cynic disbanded in 1994. Although Cynic split-up Paul Masvidal (guitars, vocals), Sean Reinert (drums), and Jason Gobel (guitars) opted to continue playing together and formed Portal with Cris Kringel (bass), and female vocalist/keyboard player Aruna Abrams. Portal recorded enough material for a full album, but the project ended up shelved until 2012 when Season of Mist picked it up and released it under the Cynic monicker.

Stylistically there are many similarities between Cynic and Portal, but there are also some fundamental differences. First off Portal features female clean vocals as well as male clean vocals, and no extreme distorted vocals. Next there are no hard edged riffing or anything remotely aggressive about the music. The material on "The Portal Tapes" is a dreamy atmospheric/new age type of music with fusion oriented rhythms as the foundation (maybe new age fusion isn´t the worst description). There´s an almost ethereal spiritual quality to the proceedings, which song titles like "Karma´s Plight", "Cosmos", and "Mirror Child" also suggest.

The musicianship is on a high level on all posts. Aruna Abrams is a skilled vocalist, and Paul Masvidal´s sedated dreamy vocals compliment her well. It´s all very pleasant sounding and relaxing but by no means simple or easily accessible. You´ll have to dig for hooks and the tracks aren´t instantly easy to tell apart either. The latter is a slight issue to my ears, and the songwriting could have prospered from a bit more variation and more catchy moments. The album is very well produced, featuring a clean, clear, and detailed sound, which suits the atmospheric music well. So while the music doens´t make as much impact as it could have, "The Portal Tapes" is still a pretty interesting release for fans of atmospheric music with fusion rhythms and clean female/male singing, and the high level musicianship and professional sounding production pull in a positive direction too. A 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is deserved.

CYNIC Humanoid

Single · 2018 · Progressive Metal
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UMUR
"Humanoid" is a digital one-track single release by US progressive metal act Cynic. The single was released through Season of Mist in January 2018. It´s the first release with new original material since the band´s third full-length studio album "Kindly Bent to Free Us" from 2014. I expected the single to be a successor to a new studio album in 2018 but at this point (January 2019) a full year later, Cynic still haven´t released their fourth full-length studio album. Since the release of "Kindly Bent to Free Us" there´s been a major lineup change as drummer and founding member Sean Reinert left in 2015. He is replaced here by Matt Lynch, who has some pretty big shoes to fill.

Stylistically "Humanoid" sounds a bit more like the progressive metal oriented material on "Traced in Air (2008)", than the more progressive rock oriented material on "Kindly Bent to Free Us (2014)", but it´s not a particularly heavy track. Paul Masvidal only sings using his clean voice, and his almost sedated and slightly melancholic vocal style is probably as much an aquired taste as always. He has the sort of voice and singing style which would fit perfectly on an alternative rock album.

The musicianship is on a high level on all posts, and the sound production is professional and detailed, so while "Humanoid" to my ears isn´t a mind blowingly great track, as it brings little new to the Cynic palette, and therefore doesn´t stand out much in their discography, it´s still a good quality atmospheric progressive metal track like only Cynic can make them. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

CYNIC Kindly Bent To Free Us

Album · 2014 · Progressive Metal
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siLLy puPPy
CYNIC puts out exactly what i personally like in a band, namely quality over quantity and absolutely no one can accuse this unique band of flooding the market with throwaway filler. The mystery with CYNIC has always been since releasing their debut album “Focus” and then calling it a day if they would ever put out another bizarre hybrid recording. After 15 years the answer was yes! reappearing with a followup in 2008 with a new sound in with “Traced In Air” which shifted gears a bit but pretty much carried on a lot of what was expected from “Focus” with the unique death metal / jazz / space rock / ambient thing neatly assembled into a nice little package that only this band could create.

Luckily the world would not have to wait another decade and a half for a followup. The band was ready for some serious business and began releasing EPs. With “Re-Traced” we got a taste of CYNIC dropping a huge swath of their metal sound and then with “Carbon-Based Anatomy” where they cemented the toning things down in the metal department by going down an atmospheric post rock and ambient path.

That brings us to their much awaited third album KINDLY BENT TO SAVE US arriving 21 years after the debut and 6 years after their second. Anyone who follows CYNIC should expect the unexpected by now. The band has their influences dipped in so many cocktails that strangeness is guaranteed to emerge in unforeseen ways and ideas evolve as sporadically as their songs shifting from one complex time signature to another with as many tones and styles to match.

KINDLY BENT TO SAVE US may have jettisoned all traces of death metal growls and replaced them with indie rock type vocals but the musical compositions remain as complex if not more so than anything the band has released before. It’s too much to grasp on a single listen. This one has taken me a while to appreciate because it is so dense and, well, unique. Of course there is a lot of what came before but on top of the sci-fi and Buddhist inspired lyrics, we get plenty of progressive metal, clean guitars, lots of staccato, complex rhythms that fuse the world of rock and jazz so seamlessly that it deserves some kind of new designated style nomenclature.

Overall, this album is a mixed bag with me. I agree with all the others that this is not as memorable as the first two releases in its scope or intensity but i totally disagree with anyone who writes this off as mere crap. The sophisticated approach on this release is phenomenal. I enjoy every single track musically and the only reason i cannot rate this album higher is because of the vocals of Paul Masvidal which don’t have the inspiring effect that the music does. The consistency of the clean style of vocals just seems a bit weak in the mix. I do miss the growls for they added some much needed contrast that matches the music.

If there were to be a huge swath of vocal influences on top of the music maybe like that of bands like Darkology or Hell, then this could have been another full-fledged masterpiece of epic proportions, but that it is not, yet i really enjoy this album a lot despite the disappointment factor and my own desire to micro-manage the project to please myself. Despite it all i am certainly not sorry it was released but i hope they can improve upon this formula in the future.

CYNIC Focus

Album · 1993 · Technical Death Metal
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siLLy puPPy
This is an album that is guaranteed to piss off the purists. It's not death metal enough. It's not jazz enough. It's not progresesive enough. Waaa! Get over it. This album has taken me a long time to appreciate and not to come off as some BS elitist but geez. Such complex music doesn't hit you upon first listen or even the tenth. Yes. There exists music that takes multiple listens to fully take in to “get.” FOCUS, the debut album by CYNIC is one of those such albums. There are definitely hooks to be had on this album but they will surely rub you the wrong way as they unfold unless you are a fan of a multitude of genres of the musical spectrum.

Let's start with metal. They are indeed a metal band but only in amplification, death metal vocals and thrash metal performance of the chords. The chords themselves are firmly placed in the jazz-fusion branch of progressive rock. In fact dare I say that CYNIC is the Mahavishnu Orchestra of extreme metal? Perhaps so. Electronica. God forbid. What are these funky Floridians thinking for frack's sake? Yes, they use a strange electronic embellishment to enhance the vocals but there is also a sound of electronic music mingled in with the wholeness of this project. Sacrilegious? Perhaps. Satisfying because this band knows no arbitrary boundaries? Fer sure.

CYNIC were simply in their own world. They took their influences and put them together in a way they saw fit at the time. Would I have done things differently? Of course. But I am judging this album because this band simply did things their way in a time when that wasn't very popular to do so. This album has become much more popular over time as many a progressive rock album has since its release. What can I say? They melodies are a brilliant mix of melody, harmony, dissonance, brutality, tenderness, accessibility and avant-garde all jumbled together. Yes, it is easy to find faults with this album at first listen because it doesn't measure up to YOUR personal take on how this fusion should have arisen but did you do anything better? If taken on its own merits from the time it was released it is a musical masterpiece that not only takes many listens to fully comprehend but rewards greatly once those walls of “getting it” have fully been broken down.

Genres are simply nomenclature that someone else created to sort things into digestible arenas but when one realizes that music is a series of spectrums that demand careful assignment and occasionally tagged exceptionalism then it is easier to embrace albums such as FOCUS that don't easily fit into any. Upon first listen I liked this album. Upon quite a few I love it. This is not only a cornerstone in metal music but a brilliant piece of art that works on so many levels once a full comprehension of influences has fully been embraced. I hope you don't let your initial impressions impede you from letting this album grow on you. It is one of those rare pieces of music that can take your breath away after countless listens. Absolutely brilliant.

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