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In Speed Metal Symphony, Marty Friedman and Jason Becker has made a completely fucking nuts piece of shredding speed metal.
The album is of course made around the guitarwork of these two axe wizards, and they certainly do deliver. They blast out countless of maddening speed metal centered riffwork, with riffs reminiscent of something from Battalions of Fear in Where My Fortune Lies, some monster thrash styled beasts in Burn The Ground and some midpaced, devastating headbanging material in Savage and The Ninja.
But the most fun part of the album is the insane soloing- on that part, the album is a complete shredfest! It's very varied, going through various speeds and moods, but always with a dead on sense of melody and coherency even during the most intense shredding assaults.
But the rest of the album ain't no slouch either. The bass is just right in the mix, and along with the catchy and aggressive drumwork builds a solid base for the album. And also the vicious, gruff vocals of Peter Marrino add a very likeable, rough edge to it all, which is only enhanced by the aggressive riffage.
The album consists of seven songs, that are all excellent in their own right.
The opening track Savage has some devastating riffwork, mindblowing soloing and most notably insanely catchy vocal lines- especially the chorus, which is just a blast to sing along to. "Savage! I'm the savage! Oh oh! In the night!"
The Ninja has that awesome intro, which alternates between some beautiful acoustic tunes and occasionally bringing in oriental influences and a guitar sound that well strengthens the feeling. The lead guitars that kick in later are also enchanting, and the most emotional moment on the album. After this awesome intro, the song turns into a raging, midpaced crusher that again turns melodic during the mindblowing solo. This is definitely the highlight of the album.
And the two instrumentals are also pretty fucking awesome. First off we have concerto, which draws certain influences of highly melodic and at times even neo-classical moments revolving around their traditional sound, making for a very melodic and memorable masterpiece.
The second instrumental, Speed Metal Symphony, is a total shredfest in all it's glory. The shredding only pauses for a melodic segment in the middle that lasts about a minute before the boys go berserk on their guitars again.
These two tracks are also among the definite highlights, and in fact are two of my top five instrumentals of all time.
Desert Island also deserves special mention, with yet another mindblowing solo section and an insanely catchy, melodic-but-rough chorus that totally sticks on your mind.
In conclusion, this is pretty much what needs to be said: If you like guitars, you'll fucking love Speed Metal Symphony. And if you don't like guitars, you suck.