Cynic's amazing 1993 debut, Focus, blasted menacing death metal through an odd prog-jazz universe, but it also showed a flair for the melodic. On their latest album, Cynic still revel in virtuosic performances, like the weird staccato patterns and fusion interplay on the title track, which sometimes recall King Crimson. But the focus usually isn't on blinding hyperchops. Instead, Cynic's shredders utilize their skills to construct great melodies and riffs, which often blossom into solid tunes that demand the listener's attention. JEFF PERLAH
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