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Record 9 of 51
Band's Name:  Cynic
Contributor(s):  Rob Devereux (dev@pair.com)
Last Time Updated:  02-Mar-2000
Band's Country:  USA

Focus (1993)

State(Active or Disbanded):  Disbanded
Biography:  From: http://www.veilmaya.org/cynic/history.html

Cynic was formed in November, 1987, by guitarist Paul Masvidal and drummer Sean Reinert. To finish up the lineup, Mark Van Erp (later of Monstrocity) was added on bass, and a friend (whose name I do not know) was added on vocals. Soon after, Jason Gobel was added on guitar, making Cynic a five-piece. This early incarnation of Cynic was focused on making only brutal death metal, with primarly influence from bands such as Venom, Possessed, Kreator, and Destruction. After Mark and their singer left in 1988, Tony Choy was added on bass, and Paul took over vocal duties. This left Cynic a four piece, which remained intact until at least 1991. This lineup began touring, and bootlegs exist of them as far back as July of 1989. They cut their first demo in 1989, consisting of four songs of speed metal/thrash, with even some punk elements. Soon after, they cut a second demo (in 1990), and gained a following, thanks to their constant touring and cameo appearances in the south Florida area. At this time, the bands influences were already starting to change. While they were still listening to contemporaries like Atheist, and were still inspired by seeing how "sick" some bands get to express themselves. Their technical abilities were growing, and they began listening to more technical forms of music. Their primary influences soon included jazz and fusion, such as Chick Corea and Allan Holdsworth, but also Watchtower and Frank Zappa. This change in technical abilities had already made its way into their songs, as the band took a great leap forward in musicianship for their second demo. By the early part of 1991, Cynic had evolved into a progressive speed/death metal band, although the band themselves didn't really consider it death metal. The music had the technicality of progressive speed metal, with the brutality and vocal qualities of death metal. They cut a third demo in 1991 (financed by Roadrunner records), consisting of three tracks, two of which would (in a drastically different form) make it onto their debut album. In April, 1991, Paul and Sean played on the Death record, Human, with Chuck Schuldiner and Steve DiGiorgio of Sadus. They described their relationship with Chuck as "very laid-back", and were able to help Chuck with the writing by giving him input, which had been missing on the earlier Death records. The result was a classic record, and Death even got some MTV airplay. At the same time, Tony Choy was filling in for the late Roger Patterson on Atheist's Unquestionable Presence, also a great album in its own right, and guesting on Pestilence's Testimony of the Ancients. Paul did some work on Master's On the Eighth Day, God Created Master, and Jason worked with Monstrocity, playing lead on their Imperial Doom album. All of this guest work helped to enlarge the fan base for Cynic, making them, according to Roadrunner records, "the most popular underground act to never record an album." Cynic was planning to record their first full-length album with Roadrunner after doing the Death record, then tour with Death, and come home and tour for their own record. For some reason, they didn't, and apparently went straight into the Death European tour for the rest of 1991. Their lack of touring the states lead to a decline in their apparent popularity, at least in the band's eyes... Cynic was scheduled to go into the studio in October, 1992, with Scott Burns to record their debut album. Unfortunately for everyone (especially us!!), Hurricane Andrew destroyed Jason's house, which also housed the band's rehearsal facilities. Their plans to record were put on hold until March, 1993. This also interrupted Chuck Schuldiner's plans for the next Death disc, Individual Thought Patterns, for which Sean was his first choice for drummer. Chuck instead got ex-Dark Angel drummer Gene Hoglan to fill in... During this time, Cynic was working with ex-Viogression vocalist Brian DeNeffe. Also around this time, a track from Cynic was finally released on CD. "Uriboric Forms" appeared in demo form on the Roadrunner compilation At Death's Door II in 1992, with a note that Cynic's debut album would be released in May, 1993... May, 1993 came and went and no album appeared. Tony Choy left the band to become Atheist's full time bass player, and the band had to scramble to find a replacement. After going through numerous bass players (including Chris Kringle more than once... ) the replacement they finally settled on was Sean Malone, an employee of Morrisound studios, where the band had recorded their demos. After putting together the songs for the new record, they were finally able to record it, and it was released Sep. 14, 1993 under the title Focus. With over two years since their last demo, Focus was a remarkable change from the style of any of their previous material, and quite different than anything else as well... After the release of Focus, Cynic went on a European tour supporting Pestilence. Due to his schoolwork, Sean could not tour with the band, so Chris Kringle toured in his place. The tour was cut short when Pestilence disbanded. Returning to the states in January, 1994, Cynic did a few shows in the Florida area, playing the states for the first time in over two years. By this time, they had added a fifth member again, lead singer/growler Tony Teegarden, who had actually sung the death vocals on Focus, since Paul was in danger of losing his voice. Tony also did the keyboard parts, since Sean was too busy on drums to do them. Next, Cynic toured the States during the summer of 1994, supporting Cannibal Corpse. Their tour stretched over 3 months, and covered most of the United States. During this time, the band parted ways with Tony, and borrowed Dana Cosley (from Demonomacy) to do the death vocals and the keyboards. At the end of the summer, Cynic had to back out of a scheduled appearance at the Milwaukee Metalfest, due to unfortunate circumstances with their record label... After the tour, Cynic began work on a new album. Rumor had it that they were again working with ex-Viogression vocalist Brian DeNeffe. However, while working on their upcoming album, bassist Sean Malone left, citing those famous "creative differences". Apparently, Cynic's music did not have the harmonic depth that he was interested in exploring. His split with the band was amicable, however, and he continued to work with Sean Reinert and Jason. Sometime during the summer of 1995, while still supposedly working on the new album, Cynic disbanded. The members of the band couldn't decide which direction the band should go in, and decided to go their separate ways. The split was amicable, and the members remain friends. The band demoed several songs for the new album, before they decided to pack it in.

Opinion(s) on Band's Discography:  


Cynic was a truly genre-bending band. Their sound was a combination of technical metal, jazz and new age. Instead of using sections of each genre and switching off, they integrated the elements together, into a continuum that was neither metal nor jazz, but both at the same time. The vocals were also different. Some were death metal, some were computerized and some was spoken word. Even with all the technical and weird playing, the music is still very catchy - they never lost site of the concept of the song.

Present and Past Members:  Paul Masvidal: Guitars, Guitar Synth, Vocals
Jason Gobel: Guitars, Guitar Synth
Sean Reinert: Drums
Sean Malone: Bass, Chapman Stick

Former Members:

Tony Choy (bass)
Chris Kringle (bass)

Reference Bands:  Sean Reinert played on Death: HUMAN Sean Malone & Reinert formed Gordian Knot, and both play for Aghora
Links related to the Band:  http://www.veilmaya.org/cynic/

Sean Malone: http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~spm29386/

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