Cynic / Intronaut / Dysrhythmia Opera House, Toronto ON August 2

Cynic / Intronaut / Dysrhythmia Opera House, Toronto ON August 2
Cynic's "Re-Traced / Re-Focused Live" tour features three difficult bands on one bill, but the Toronto stop proved to be a successful demonstration of musical skill and onstage communication. Cynic, Intronaut and Dysrhythmia didn't offer faithful reproductions of their recorded music but expertly transposed their songs into a more volatile context, the dark stage and rear-lighting throughout putting emphasis on sound over image.

Dysrhythmia's short opening set continually built toward a climax that always threatened but never broke. Live, the band are an intensely powerful three-piece, dominated by intricately pounding rhythms and a constant bass rumble. The guitar only occasionally emerged above the onslaught but the effect is less a wall of noise than a huge sonic labyrinth, with so much going on that the lack of vocals is no absence at all.

Intronaut's answer to Dysrhythmia's avalanche was more compelling and jarring all at once. With more happening onstage, they had a habit of enticing the ears only to then bash their listeners over the head. A near comedy routine collapsed into a tumultuous finale as Intronaut's closing song exploded into a crushing guitarist/drummer duet over multiple toms.

For Cynic, Decibel Hall of Fame billing makes this tour a full presentation of 1993's Focus, which was featured as the first part of the band's headlining performance. Cynic ran through their classic material with expertise and passion, but it wasn't until after the acoustic interlude ("Integral" from latest release Re-Traced) that the younger half of the crowd demonstrated its collective enthusiasm.

Though still demanding, the new music is obviously more mosh-able (seen during "The Space for This"). Fans pushed to the front of the stage as Paul Masvidal soloed, and instead of dissipating after Focus came to a close, the energy continued to build. That meant that the encore-free set left the room still wanting more, the heady atmosphere lingering after Cynic offered a polite and appreciative good night.