Under The Influence #38: Karmatik on “Focus” by Cynic!
Founded in 1987 in Miami Florida by guitarist and vocalist Paul Masvidal and drummer Sean Reinert, Cynic incorporated elements of Progressive and Alternative Rock into Extreme Metal and after four demos in four years they signed to Roadrunner Records in 1991 and began work on the debut album. Both Masvidal and Reinert were part of American Death Metal band Death at that time and after recording “Human” with them were touring Europe for that release before their equipment was seized by a promoter looking to settle debts. As a result of that and Hurricane Andrew, not to mention a few line up changes, it was 1993 before “Focus” began to take shape. Considered one of the landmark Progressive Metal releases, it blends Technical Death Metal with Jazz influences to create something experimental with complex arrangements. As an album, it might not have been as well received at the time of it’s release but over the years it has grown in stature like the work of a painter and when bands like Veil Of Maya and Textures have taken their names directly from song titles on the album, that speaks volumes.
Carol Gagné of Karmatik comments: “I fell into Metal music in the late 80’s with Thrash and Speed Metal bands such as Metallica, Sepultura, Kreator, Testament, Megadeth, Iron Maiden and others! I started playing guitar at this time and Metal become a life style and by the middle of the 90’s, I was struck by the quality of Death Metal legend Chuck Schuldiner from Death. Now all Death albums are a musical revelation and an eternal inspiration for me but curiously, my most influential album isn’t a Death album, it’s rather “Focus” by Cynic. When I discovered this amazing and surprising album, my musical vision and my inspiration had a blast of power! A lot of walls and limitations in my mind fall one by one each time I listen “Focus”! Unexpected jazzy guitars and rhythm, unreal intergalactic robotic voices, through a perfect and melodic Death Metal riffs and growls supported by a lots of incredible melodies and solos by each instruments. The musical arrangements between guitars and bass are really intense and the drum playing is just amazing, innovative and so original. In addition, the philosophical and spiritual elements of the whole concept with lyrics and artwork really struck me. These highly talented musicians created a masterpiece that opened my musical spirit wide and transformed my way of creation… So I’m very grateful for them!”