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Neoclassical Genius - 96%

invaded, August 2nd, 2006

Neoclassical shred metal can easily get boring. Most of the time you listen to someone like malmsteen and you can show your respect and admit that the guy is a hell of a player, but the songwriting is boring and repetitive. However Jason Becker, despite his young age at this point, was many levels above the competition as far as shredders go.

We all know the story now. Jason Becker was one half of super shred duo Cacophony, sharing the spotlight with fellow guitarist Marty Friedman, who later on joined Megadeth and pursued a solo career. Jason Becker was about seventeen years old when he did the first Cacophony record and was eighteen when he did Perpetual Burn, and I simply cannot imagine what would he could have given us more had he not been struck with ALS(Lou Gherig's disease). The man can no longer speak or breathe on his own, let alone play guitar.

Jason Becker was one of the greatest guitar talents in the history of music, and this album showcases this fact to great lengths. The virtuosic playing is absolutely mind-blowing and out of this world, yet it is the music rather than the playing which captivates me every time. Becker used his great skill to create music that was pretty, sometimes beautiful, some bits that just rocked out, and he even had elements to his music that made it comical. "Mabel's Fatal Fable" comes to mind, with the weird whammy bar intro that just makes you sneer when you hear it for the first time. As far as technique is concerned, every song is filled with shredding passages that have all the elements in them; sweep paicking galore, alternate picking, artifiacial harmonics, tapping, wammy bar dives and tastefully, slosly executed playing at times as well.

The compositions on here are fierce. "Altitudes" is probably his most famous song. The way the arpeggios stream seemlessly over the rythm melodies is simply fantastic and fits perfectly. "Air" is a competely acoustic(although it does sound like clean electric guitar tracks) track which is entierely fingerpicked, giving it a very warm and celestial feeling. This song just takes you on a trip through paradise it seems so serene. "Eleven Blue Egyptians" is another standout with the inclusion of Mr. Marty Friedman. This song has a very middle-eastern flavor to it, ranging in mostly harmonic minor scales until everything slows down into an awesome blues meltdown. It's pure bliss to hear two of the world's best guitarists just wail away mindlessly on a four bar blues scale.

"Opus Pocus" closes things with style,showcase a lead melody, or them if you will that carries the tune throughout its entirety. This is just another solid composition from one of the world's greats.

Besides the guitar playing, Atma Anur delivers a very solid performance behind the drum stool, going through complex time signatures and melodic changes as though he were ripping through a standard rock beat. His deft touch accompanies Jason's extravagant playing perfectly and ever so tightly.

Jason Becker was a player among players, a natural who's career was taken away from him way too quickly. Anyone who gets their hands on this record should cherish it because it's not just another shred record... this one's got class.