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5 cliche speed metal nods, and 2 symphonies. - 77%

hells_unicorn, September 23rd, 2011

The fine art of shredding up a hurricane while still managing to pass as a songwriter is a difficult one, most often associated with the likes of Joe Satriani, whose many instrumentals and few sung works are impressive enough to wow most 6-string enthusiasts yet infectious enough to be all but outright plagiarized and dumbed down further by the likes of arena rock whores Coldplay. Throughout the 80s a number of outfits from Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force to Michael Angelo Batio's now defunct 80s sleaze on speed project Nitro tried to bring a similar formula with a full time vocalist and a lot more notes, with varying degrees of success. Somewhere in the mix of all of this lay Cacophony, a somewhat more archaic blend of old NWOBHM/speed metal influences, highlighting not one, but two dominant shred personalities cutting heads from one number to the next.

It should be disclosed immediately that, though lead guitar extraordinaire Marty Friedman is known best for his contributions to Megadeth, this outfit is of an older persuasion musically, drawing much more from the pre-Metallica mindset of speed and fury more often associated with Judas Priest and early Metal Church. Vocalist Peter Marrino is somewhat of a weak link in the mix, coming off as a generic middle ground between Jeff Soto and David Wayne, matching a cliche gravely growl with the occasional air raid wail, but his work is sufficient for the style employed during the regular songs found on here. Many have often pointed out that the strong points on this album are found in the instrumental work on here, and from a standpoint of forward looking, stylistic intrigue and technical prowess, this is accurate. However, "Savage" and "Burn The Ground" are solid tunes that meld the Malmsteen meets Vai mayhem with a riff set heavily influenced by Diamond Head and Accept.

Nevertheless, the primary target audience of this literal onslaught of note flurries doesn't get a full dose of this band's capabilities until the 2 instrumentals kick in. Of the two, the self-titled celebration of virtuosity "Speed Metal Symphony" clearly sticks out for the relentless barrage of blinding leads clocking in at over 9 minutes, invoking just as much of the chaotic, anti-melodic tendencies of Vai's noisier style with the motive based, Baroque cliches of Malmsteen. "Concerto" is more of a straightforward nod to classical music with too much distortion and a speed metal backdrop, sounding almost like an overblown answer to Malmsteen's "Far Beyond The Sun" minus the symmetrical songwriting.

From a standpoint of history, this album points more directly to the current fixation that many have with Dragonforce, right up to the almost mechanical tendencies of the harmonized guitar duo segments, though Malmsteen and Stratovarius can claim equal credit in shaping the textural dimensions through keyboard usage and vocal input. But with regard to its contemporaries, "Speed Metal Symphony" comes off mostly as a two guitar version of Malmsteen's "Marching Out" minus about 35% of the songwriting capability, meshed with a bit of the same artist's shred driven debut when approaching the instrumental work found on here. It's not quite as unintentionally tongue-in-cheek as The Great Kat, but it is definitely an album that shows its age and will probably not be as accessible to those who don't really have much love for the archaic sounds of the 80s.