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When I found out that Marty Friedman and Jason Becker both had a band together in the past, I couldn't wait to listen to some of the material that this band produced. I mean, two guitar virtuosos in one band, playing neo-classical metal? Hell yeah! However, it seems that the album's greatest premise was also its undoing.
I want to start off here and say that *this is not a bad album at all*. Despite all the shortcomings I'm going to detail, this is definitely an album you should check out, with some great parts such as a great chorus on Savage and some parts of Speed Metal Symphony. However, quite a few things keep it from being the timeless heavy metal classic that it could have been and should have been.
First of all, there's no easy way of saying this - guitar masturbation dominates the album throughout. I mean, I love solos as much as the next guy (the one who isn't a "everything but black / grindcore sucks, you should listen to some *kvlt band that no one but that guy knows* and you'll see what I mean), perhaps even more, but in soloing there's a fine line between tasteful and tasteless, and this album really crosses that line - not too much, but enough for it to ruin some of the fun of listening to it. I mean, I didn't use a stopwatch or anything, but my feeling was that on the average song, the solo parts were far more than 50% of the song. If it's not that way but just felt that way, that just further strengthens my argument.
Second - and this, as I shall say below, is just the other side of the first disadvantage - nothing but the guitar stands out. The lyrics are terrible and cliched, which in my opinion matters quite a lot, but then again I like Accept so maybe you should disregard this part of the review. More than that, none of the other musicians got to show their capabilities. As composers, Friedman and Becker never take advantage of bass lines the way Yngwie Malmsteen does. That there are no interesting drum parts goes without saying. But worst of all, the band makes almost no use of a vocalist who, if to judge by his singing on some parts (the aforementioned Savage chorus and parts of Desert Island), is actually pretty damn good.
Again, this album isn't bad, but it could've been better. I'd expect an album with Becker and Friedman to be something I'd want to listen to once a day, not an album that I just have lying around and that I listen to every now and then just because I'm reminded of one part I like (It's a *really* good chorus). Egotism is never a good thing when it comes to a composer in a band, and this is why Yngwie Malmsteen, in my opinion, will remain the king of neo-classical metal, while Cacophony will probably just come up when you talk to a friend about Megadeth, you mention that Friedman had a band with Becker, and the friend goes "Oh, cool," and that's that.