If Miami prog-metal purists Cynic were still around, this album would be the modern-day equivalent of their one and only release, 1992’s unrivaled Focus. Ironically, Miami’s Aghora are one-half Cynic-the better half, in fact, of bassist Sean Malone and drummer Sean Reinert, along with guitarists Santiago Dobles and Charlie Ekendahl and female vocalist Danishta Rivero.

 Imagine The Gathering’s Anneke van Giersbergen fronting a more metallic version of fusion jazz outfits Attention Deficit or Scott McGill/Michael Manring/Vic Stevens. Since Dobles studied guitar with Cynic leader Paul Masdival, naturally Aghora’s chordage resembles that of Cynic but with a distinctly different Middle Eastern tonal quality. The blistering interplay between Dobles and Reinert in “Transfiguration” will make any prog fan salivate uncontrollably, while “Frames” spotlights Rivero’s beautifully lilting echoes, ending with two long minutes of ambience constructed exactly like Robert Fripp’s Soundscapes. “Mind’s Reality” is driven by Reinert’s masterful polyrhythms, opening up dramatically with massive leaden sheets of Dobles/Ekendahl riffage, while “Kali Yuga” flaunts exotic Santana-like chords before delving into comfortably dense prog structures. “Satya” bubbles along with Rivero’s double-tracked vocal harmonies and mechanical guitar synths like Thorn. Dedicated to John McLaughlin’s Shakti and Mahavishnu Orchestra for their musical vision, the 11-minute free-form instrumental “Jivatma” also features Cynic’s Jason Gobel with “guitar textures.”

The disc also contains CD-ROM features that include video clips from the studio, a demo version of “Immortal Bliss” as a bonus track, an exhaustive history and FAQ’s, and merchandise info, all of which fully utilize the CD-ROM’s capabilities.

While clearly worshipping Cynic, Aghora ultimately transcend the short-lived career of those pioneering proggers and float effortlessly on a metal-lined cloud all their own.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Dan Woolley
October 27th, 2000


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