Speed Metal Symphony



by Slaytan USER (16 Reviews)
November 14th, 2007 | 24 replies

Release Date: 1987 | Tracklist


I could leave it at that, but you'd all neg me, so here we go.

In 1987, Cacophony (aka Marty Friedman and Jason Becker) released Speed Metal Symphony, a staple in the world of underground music, and a bomb in the world of shred guitar.

The music on this album is excellent, and at times is jaw dropping. The guitar interplay between Freidman and Becker is superb, and cements their status as one of the greatest guitar duos of all time. Their leads are innovative, and they often break away from the popular guitar scales of the day and play exotic, unconvential sounding leads that both guitarists would become known for on their latter solo albums (i.e. "The Ninja"). Songs like "Concerto" display melodic leads and excellent composition skills, while others such as "Where My Fortune Lies" and "Speed Metal Symphony" are laced with speed and technicality from the very start to the very end. Classical influence is also present on many, if not all of the solos and rhythms. The only downside to having so much lead work on the album is the production; at certain points it sounds as though some of the leads have an excess of treble, and have a very thin sound.

The rhythms and riffs on the album are solid as well. That's not to say that they are ground breaking or overly original, but they always fit the direction of the songs, and transition smoothly from one to another. Riff heavy tracks like "Savage" rarely repeat themselves, and leave a lot of room for the vocals to flourish. The bass work on the album was also handled by Friedman, and surprisingly, it can actually be heard! It follows the guitars throughout the album, and is really nothing to be desired, but the fact that it can be heard is an accomplishment in itself.

Much like the bass, the drumming is fairly basic. There are some interesting fills on such tracks as "Desert Island" and "Concerto." For the most part the drums have a very big sound, in the respect that there is a lot of reverb on them, which makes for a nice, dense wall of sound. In tracks like "The Ninja" however, the drums have some time to shine with Freidman, using odd time signatures and beats to accent the foreign riffs and leads of the song. The drumming was never meant to be technical or flashy though, seeing as Cacophony is basically a guitar heavy band anyway.

The vocals on the album are a bit awkward. At some points they are spot on and great, and at others they sound like just another average vocalist in the 1980's. For example, on tracks like "Where My Fortune Lies" the vocals sound sharp of the music, and quite frankly, get annoying. On other tracks like "Savage" and "Burn the Ground" feature aggressive vocals that fit the mood of the respective songs perfectly. The lyrics on the album are so-so. For the most part they are fairly generic and fall into the same pattern as many other metal bands of the time period did.
"I'm on the hunt
I'm hunting for you
You're going to wish you never crossed me
When I'm through" ~ "Savage"

The production on the album leaves something to be desired. It is apparent that this album what recorded with a low budget, as that will become apparent upon the first listen. It's not horrible, but the reverb that is apparent on all of the instruments is a testament to either a lack of time or money. Could this have been done on purpose? Of course. But one can't help to think that such intelligent musicians as Becker and Friedman, even at such a young age, would have noticed how annoying it is at certain moments.

Fast and technical, that's what this album is. The guitar work is excellent, and the rhythm section (although bland at times) manages to add to the songs. It's a must for any fan of shred guitar, 80's metal, or any fan of the solo albums that would later be released by either guitarist.

Cacophony was...
Marty Friedman - Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Bass
Jason Becker - Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar

With help from...
Atma Anur - Drums
Peter Marrino - Vocals

Recommended Tracks:
"Concerto" - The track follows the pattern of the reverse of a normal concerto in the respect that the tempo goes from slow to fast and then back to slow. It is an instrumental track that really shows how Cacophony excelled in melody. Each part of this song flows like a modern masterpiece, and the mood overall is very calm despite the rapid guitar work.

"Speed Metal Symphony" - It starts out with harmonized sweeps from Friedman and Becker with an off time rhythm underneath. Much like "Concerto" this track shows how much Cacophony was classically inspired. It is amazing to hear how talented these guitarists were at such a young age. The only downside of this track is the production value, but if you can make it past the first 20 seconds or so and you'll be fine.

"Where My Fortune Lies" - Despite having the vocals sound slightly off for most of this song, the music by far the most aggressive, and the solos are blistering.

- Guitar solos
- Arrangements are near flawless
- Aggressive riffing style

- Production value is edgy
- Vocals are slightly off at times

Overall: Despite it's rough spots, this album is a classic, and truly worth picking up if you're into shred, or guitar pyrotechnics in general...5 out of 5

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user ratings (150)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
November 15th 2007


Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Have at it folks. I'll have a review for Go Off! done tomorrow or the day after.This Message Edited On 11.14.07

November 15th 2007


This review is electric. Stay classy with your reviews now. Checking this out is a possibility.

Digging: Crippled Black Phoenix - Great Escape

November 15th 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

Great review. It's about time someone reviewed this album. I agree about the production, it's pretty meh. And Becker's pretty underrated, in my opinion.

November 15th 2007


Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Thanks guys, much appreciated.This Message Edited On 11.14.07

November 15th 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

The music on this album is excellent, and at times is jaw dropping.

did you seriously review this? you have my respect

but i dont know about "at times" the music is jaw dropping, i'd say all the time...

i agree with your rating, i like Go off! a bit more. i have both in hard copy im so proud of myself :lol:

November 15th 2007


Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Haha, as do I. Thanks for the kind words.This Message Edited On 11.14.07

November 15th 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

no problemo. i'm just glad someone got around to reviewing this and apparently go off! as well. I'll keep an eye out for that GO! review. i added these guys to the database on my first or second day at sputnik i think and i didn't think anyone would find them. I had been putting off reviewing both of these albums for a long time.

edit: and click that Tony Macalpine link on the Cacophony main page, you'll like his album if you check it out.This Message Edited On 11.15.07

November 15th 2007


Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I've already heard it, it's badass. I should have the Go Off! review up later, and a soundoff for both albums done later or tomorrow.

November 15th 2007


I want this just because jason becker is fucking incredible.

November 16th 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

you should add the artwork :thumb:

November 16th 2007


Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off


January 2nd 2008


Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Also, jump bumped the rating to a 5. I heart this album.

January 19th 2008


Album Rating: 4.0

This album has mad guitar work...!!!

January 22nd 2008


Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Why yes, yes it does.

March 13th 2009


Album Rating: 4.0

As much as I love this album, the vocals and lyrics almost spoil the experience.

April 29th 2009


Album Rating: 5.0

Concerto is a masterpiece that alone gives the album a 4.0

December 2nd 2011


Album Rating: 4.0

Like reviewer said, Vocals are off at times, and cheesy too. But overall a legendary album.

July 5th 2013


The opening of The Ninja is awesome

Digging: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Dazzle Ships

December 14th 2015


shred machines

Digging: Killswitch Engage - Alive or Just Breathing

May 31st 2016


If this album was instrumental it would be a straight 5 no doubt

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