I waited until our Megadeth tribute cover was posted before uploading this because I didn’t want to detract from that release, so it is a little later then the original release day (sept 14th), but better late then never.
Cynic’s “Focus” came out in September 1993. For the 25th anniversary in 2008, my band Aletheian recorded a cover of “How Could I”. I wanted to post it this September because our original cover was released as a bonus track on the IronClad Recordings re-release of “Dying Vine”, and that is not available anymore. We can also no longer SELL the cover because we don’t have the license agreement with Roadrunner Records anymore (they took a flat-rate of each album sale as a part of the deal), so here it is as a freebie tribute with a slightly updated mix.
A little history: We recorded this is a BIG hurry, so the quality is not stellar, but it still came out okay, but the guitar performance and mix were a bit looser than I would have liked because of a few technical issues. Joe tracked the drums with Carson Slovak at http://www.atriumaudiopa.com in Lancaster Pennsylvania (where Black Crown Initiate tracked their EP, and the first August Burns Red demo was recorded), and sent me the tracks to mix. We had a bit of problems with syncing the click and some of the song sections, so that was a nightmare. Donnie recorded his solo with Chris Keeney (PA-based musician and Recording Engineer, and occasional Aletheian guitarist). The rest was tracked by me wherever I could.
Most people really liked the cover, but we got a bit of heat from a few people because of the changes we made. I messed with the rhythms and guitar harmonies, as well as the song structure, which did not sit well. I also sang the original vocoder vocals in a power-metal style… that REALLY annoyed some purists, but what are you gonna do? We wanted to bring something different and make the sound more ‘us’, otherwise why bother doing another version of the song if you are just going to play the exact original. I’ll take the heat for that because I really like what we did with the vocals.
Donnie took the first solo and changed it up quite a bit. The original was a qusi-atonal affair with a dissonant harmonizer on it. Donnie played it with a more jazz-fusion style. The end solo/section was a massively-transformative musical experience for me, so I took that one and played it pretty straight, apart from a few tapped runs that I tossed in to make it sound more ‘me’.
My lovely wife Natalie sang the layers of ‘angel choir’ vocals.
The rest of the recording was pretty standard — quad-tracked guitars, a few layers of Joel’s death-growls, a few layers of synths. The bass guitar on the original Cynic track was a fretless Steinberger, so the bass on our cover was the fretless 6-string that I used on the rest of the “Dying Vine” album. It was a Yamaha John Myung model that I modified heavily. I don’t have it anymore because even though it played great, it sounded pretty kinda ‘meh’, and the electronics were super-noisy.
The rest of the album (minus the bonus tracks) is re-posted at https://aletheian.bandcamp.com/album/dying-vine-10th-anniversary-24-bit and the 2008 re-release CD may still be available at the Aletheian merch store at aletheian.com.
Here is a track from the “Dying Vine” album this cover song is from just for fun-sies. You can preview the rest of it on the Bandcamp site, and hopefully I can get the album back up on iTunes and streaming services soon.