Sunday, July 27, 2008

There Is No Excuse After Death For Your Ignorance During Life.

Focal Point is a spirit filled hardcore band out of Elk Grove, California who (from what I can tell, so correct me if I'm wrong) released one album during a crowded period for the hardcore scene. I can't find much information about the band, but it should be stated that Ryan Clark played guitar here before joining brother Don with Training For Utopia and eventually Demon Hunter.

"Suffering Of The Masses" is not a bad album, but not unique enough to stand out in an over-crowded hardcore scene. The album begins with a sombre acoustic guitar intro of "Inception" which nicely sets the underlying mood of the rest of the CD. Strategically placed acoustic passages throughout the album is one of the unique features, since acoustic guitars are not often used in the hardcore scene.

"When I Die" kicks in with mid-paced riffing and bleak undertones. "Homicide" adds a darker edge to the heavy crunch. "Broken Bonds" gets a little faster with some pummeling riffs and screeching guitar work.

"Enraged" starts off slow and melodic and is moving before bringing on the crunch at mid-paced speed. "No Return" is aggressive with some riffwork and is solid and heavy. "Upright" adds an element of thrash into the riffs and a touch of groove. It also features the closest thing to a solo here.

"Deception" is melodic and mid-paced and honestly, fairly standard fair. Though the spoken part is nice. The title track starts off melodically with a bit more speed and some nice guitar work. The album closer is the instrumental "Attainment" which uses melodic riffing with electric guitars to ease us gently out of the album.

My favourite track here is "Neglected" with has some unsettling guitar screech mix in with their heavy riffs adding a darker edge while retaining some melody. A bleakly memorable tune with some good crunch.

After several listens I've come to enjoy the album and its epic hardcore structures. The songs range from 3 to almost 6 minutes which in itself is unusual for hardcore, yet I don't feel this album is at all metalcore.

The riffs are solid and the overall sound carries an epic darker feel, akin to Unashamed and later period Focused. I do feel the album suffers some from weaker production mostly in the muffled drums which carry the punch they should and an overly bassy sound. I would have definitely liked to have seen further material by these guys, because in the end this was a pretty solid start.

However, Ryan Clark has moved on to bigger and better projects in Training For Utopia and Demon Hunter. Two very different bands with strong albums.

That said, I'll be taking a look not at either of the previously mentioned bands, but instead at Frank's Enemy starting with their self-titled (aka Not Silent) album.


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