Personnel: Peter Marrino (vocals); Marty Friedman (guitar, bass); Jason Becker (guitars); Atma Anur (drums).
Cacophony's Speed Metal Symphony is one of the more extreme entries in the Shrapnel Records catalog. Rather than being a showcase for merely one guitar hero possessing superhuman technique, Cacophony brings you two guitar virtuosos, Marty Friedman and Jason Becker, who are equally capable of blowing your head off with their state-of-the-art neo-classical chops. As if that weren't enough, their angular compositions are delivered at warp-speed tempos, with tons of dissonance and odd time signatures thrown into the mix. Imagine twin Yngwie Malmsteens playing simultaneously over a bed of Megadeth rhythm tracks, and you'll get the basic idea. The sheer note density on this album is tough to digest, and the brash production (standard for most Shrapnel releases) makes it all sound like it's happening in a wind tunnel. But underneath the cacophony, two extremely gifted guitarists are at work here. Friedman's and Becker's later solo albums are both superior to this slightly convoluted work (and all the better to sample the guitarists' styles individually). And both of them ultimately went on to score high-profile sideman gigs (Friedman with Megadeth, Becker with David Lee Roth) where their skills are sharpened and focused within the contexts of more conventional song structures. Abrasive singer Peter Marrino adds vocals to most of the tracks on Speed Metal Symphony without necessarily making them any more accessible. This is some of the most indulgent music ever recorded. If you've got the constitution for it, dig in. ~ Andy Hinds