With the news of the recent reforming of the Floridian extreme metallers Cynic, one of the real pioneers in death metal return. Alongside Atheist they were ahead of their time with their 1993 landmark release Focus, an effort that fertilized the ground for a new generation of progressive and experimental bands. In the light of the recent news I could not pass on the opportunity to ask guitarist Paul Masvidal about Cynic and of course their only album Focus.

Paul Masvidal interviewed by PSL

What was it that finally put the reunion in motion?
A series of synchronicities. We knew it was time, but the decision wasn't really ours. We were simply responding to messages from the universe. We just surrendered and trusted in it.

The successful reunion of Atheist is that something that also helped fuel the idea of getting back?
A phone call from Kelly Shaefer of Atheist was one of the synchronicities. So indirectly, yes.

Obviously the missing presence of Shawn Malone and Jason Gobel is something that is bound to be questioned. Why are they not partaking in the reunion?
Malone can't participate because of teaching and work commitments. Jason can't because of family and work commitments.

You've teamed up with Tony Teegarden, Chris Kringel and Santiago Dobles. Chris have previously been involved with Cynic, but what about the other two?
Tony sang all the brutal vocals on Focus and also toured with us. Santiago was my guitar student in the early 90's. He's been a good friend and around us a long time. Sean also played drums on his first and most recent Aghora record.

Just like Atheist and to a degree also Nocturnus you were ahead of your time. In hindsight do you think people had difficulties understanding the music back then?
There were some that understood, but most people seemed a bit perplexed.

Focus is widely considered a landmark release. It still sound as fresh and pioneering today as it did in 1993. Back then did you have the feeling that you had made something out of the ordinary and with such durability?
I wasn't concerned with anything other than making a solid work. The results were not in our hands. We just created music and "focused" on the details. I'm grateful that the work has transcended time. It makes sense now that it has.

A song like "Uroboric Forms" has a few similarities with Death. Did it affect the music that you played a period with Chuck Schuldiner and Death?
On some level, I would imagine it was. Chuck was the pioneer of catchy death metal and I got to understand that style very intimately by playing with him for many years.

It must have been exciting being a part of the creative hotspot the Floridian death metal scene was back in the early nineties?
It was an incredible period. Amazing many memories and experiences. There really was a strong scene with many unique bands.

I can't recall having heard effects like those you used on Focus anywhere else, at least not before that release. How did you get the idea of applying effects to the guitars and vocals?
It all began as a dilemma that needed a solution. I knew the brutal vocals were not expansive enough for the music, and that something else would have to appear. Regular clean vocals were not going to do the trick. I wanted an otherworldly alien like voice that had an emotional quality to complement the music. When I discovered that sound, I knew it was right.

It sounds like you were influenced by all kinds of music. Which genres had the biggest impact on you?
Early on it was metal and then we got into jazz, fusion, pop, experimental, ambient, classical.

I've seen lots of different tags put on your music. Personally I would categorize it as progressive and experimental death metal, but that tag isn't even that accurate. What do you call it?

That's pretty good. Experimental progressive fusion rock/metal. Descriptions are difficult with Cynic. It had metal elements, but also other styles so a big vague word like rock seems to encompass all. Ultimately, I'm not sure what to call it either.

Why did the band disband after doing only the Focus record?
We didn't disband after Focus. We parted ways with Malone and began writing new material with Chris on bass. We then added Aruna on vocals and morphed into Portal. We decided the new material was too different from Focus to continue as Cynic, so we changed our name. We disbanded after Portal due to a combination of music business troubles and personal changes.

With the renewed interest for Cynic is there a possibility of the early demos as well as the much-sought-after Portal demo being released on CD, just like it has been done with the Massacre and Nocturnus demos?
Yes, possibly.

With Cynic back in action would it be complete utopia to expect a successor to Focus if this reunion turns out to be a success?
If we do another progressive record in the vein of Cynic, we will probably give the project a different name.

How does the remainder of 2006 look for your concern?
Good. Busy and disciplined. 2007 will be a lot of touring for Cynic and Aeon Spoke.

Anything you wish to add to conclude this interview?
Thank you Per, for the interview and to those who took the time to read it. Also thanks to the Cynic / Aeon Spoke fans for the ongoing support. Please visit www.cynicalsphere.com and also www.aeonspoke.com for news and updates. Come see us live in 2007!

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