Evil Dr. Smith : It's Cynic's sole album 'Focus' why Sean Malone is for the rest of his life connected with the metal scene. But besides some guest roles on a few progmetal albums (like OSI, Aghora, Spiral Architect and John Wesley) this bass virtuous is more a jazz/fusion player than a metalhead the last fifteen years. He did release two albums with Gordian Knot on Sensory Records (back in 1999 and 2003), together with a lot of VIP's from the prog scene (guys from Dream Theater, Cynic, Watchtower, King Crimson and Yes), but Gordian Knot's symphonic fusion can't hardly be called metal. On the contrary. So this is no review for the average metalhead reader, but more like a warning. Just like reviews from the albums you might come across from the Trio of ex-Testament guitarist Alex Skolnick: watch out, this music contains no metal!
In the years between Cynic and Gordian Know Sean Malone recorded and released this first (and up till now only) solo album on the tiny Audioimage Records (back in 1996). Due to a lack of interest and proper distribution this album fell pretty fast into oblivion. However, a small amount of requests to this album kept throughout the years (especially Cynic fans), so now, almost twelve years later, the album gets his first decent release on The Laser's Edge. Sean got assistance Sean Reinert (Death, Cynic, Aeon Spoke, Aghora and now C-187) and fusion guitarist Bob Bunin, while guitarists Trey Gunn (ex-King Crimson), Adam Levy (jazz) and Reeves Gabrels (David Bowie, The Cure, Ozzy) play guest roles.
This album is especially relevant for admirers of bass virtuosity: it's no surprise that you see the name of Jaco Pastorius countless times on Malone's website. Malone also plays the Chapman Stick, like in the solo instrumental 'Sinfonia', which is a tribute to Johann Sebastian Bach. Furthermore you'll hear mainly jazz (the song 'Giant Steps' must be a hint to the same album by John Coltrane), jazzrock and fusion on this album, together with an occasional hint towards world music (like the percussive 'At Taliesen'). There's one semi-vocal piece on the album, 'The Big Idea', which resembles a fierce Weather Report. All in all it's not much excitement for the average metalhead, although the fusion of 'Splinter' is certainly firm and compelling. This reissue contains one bonus track, which is 'Unquity Road' and that was originally a Japanese bonus track on the first Gordian Knot album. The music on this reissue isn't remastered, remixed, re-recorded or re-whatever, it's the original stuff. Considering the fact that Malone thinks it's nothing more than improved demo's, I must say the recordings sound pretty bright, sharp and clean.
For the rockers and metalheads who prefer to hear Malone in a heavier modus, I'll recommend the 2006-released CD/DVD 'One Night In Chicago' by Cygnus, where Malone is playing covers from Rush together with Mike Portnoy, Paul Gilbert and Jason McMaster.