Long, long ago in prog metal land, the Florida band Cynic released its seminal death metal meets jazz amalgamation, Focus (see the Prog Metal Zone review of Focus here). Back in 1993 when Focus came out, no one could have predicted what a far reaching impact it would have and many young musicians were taken in by this strange but powerful creation. Among those who were the most attuned to what Cynic was doing was the young, adventurous and spiritually minded young guitarist, Santiago Dobles. Dobles formed Aghora in 1995 and did what many Cynic fans would have loved to do – he hired their rhythm section! Bassist Sean Malone and drummer Sean Reinert, both among the best that have ever played metal along with Santiago’s sister Danishta Rivera produced the astonishing self-titled Aghora cd in 2000. For those of you that loved the jazz and Mahavishnu influenced sound of Cynic but didn’t care for the harsh vocals, then Aghora may be for you. There is a decided Indian spiritual influence that pervades the whole album. Often metal, even of the most advanced and progressive sort, rarely approaches the beauty and sophistication of what the band did here and it’s had a special place in my music collection since then.
Seven years later and with a new lineup, Dobles and band came out with the almost equally formidable Formless and then has been pretty dormant since then. Santiago has been establishing himself as a martial arts instructor (his website is here in case you wish to check out the self-defense art of Pencak Silat) and rumor has it that a new Aghora album is in the works. Until then, please check out both of their amazing and unique albums via the Spotify playlist below.
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