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Jason Becker - 100%

nuklearkrieg, January 8th, 2005

Jason Becker, although terribly underrated, might be one of the best (if not, the best) artists in the Neoclassical/shred genre. I've yet to come across something more beautiful, complex, or inspiring as this album. Becker, currently battles ALS, can no longer play guitar, and thus his musical genius is locked away in his mind. Every person that’s ever taken an interest in masterful guitar work must hear this CD.

Altitudes begins with an atmospheric and somewhat saddening keyboard introduction, followed by some amazing soloing from Jason. The drums are bluesy and hypnotic. The song then explodes into a masterpiece of arpeggios, keyboards, and drum work. One can only wonder how hands can possibly move this fast. This song is one amazing piece of guitar work after another; it’s totally relaxing and uplifting. The end of the song is mind-blowing. This riff is unbelievably haunting yet complex. One of the best songs I’ve ever heard.

Perpetual Burn throws you right in with a blast of sweeps and arpeggios. The riffs in this song are so complicated and difficult, yet they are playing with surprising ease. I cannot imagine how Jason possibly came up with these songs, since they’re so fast. He has so many ideas packed into each song, they’re almost too hard to keep up with.

Mabel’s Fatal Fable is my favorite song on the album. It’s chaotic, incredibly fast paced; a delightful piece of insanity. The solo around one minute is amazing. After that the guitars drop down to a heavier riff with another solo above them. It goes on and on, yet never gets boring. The end of the song is equally as chaotic as the first, with some strange half-spoken segment somewhere.

Air also begins with a keyboard introduction. It literally throws your focus back and forth. This piece is entirely clean. The song then moves to a beautiful riff. Although somewhat slow in the beginning, this song puts the listener in a state of quiet and peace. The song then picks up speed slightly, and gives a more upbeat feeling. This piece of classical brilliance is almost too good to be true, I’ve never listened to something more thought-provoking. Becker is, without a doubt, a modern-day Chopin.

Temple of the Absurd tosses you back with heavy riff and some more soloing. This is by far the heaviest riff on the album; pure speed metal at its best. This song is total insanity, and very entertaining to listen to. Very headbang worthy.

Eleven Blue Egyptians is also pretty heavy and crushing. The solos paint scene in historical Egypt. Very triumphant and upbeat song.

Dweller in the Celler begins with a mysterious introduction and some soft drumming. The guitar slowly makes its way into the song, and blends wonderfully with the atmosphere. After a wail from the guitar, the song slows down and rolls on with a demolishing riff.

The last song, Opus Pocus, ends the album on a high note. Becker is a kid at heart, and exemplifies it through this song. The gorgeous keyboards and insane guitar work create an amazing sound. The song takes a turn around 2 minutes, and bursts into a complex web of guitar mastery. Becker successfully ends the album in a victorious way, as if he has accomplished something difficult yet great.

Not one song on this album allows the listener to become disinterested. Each song is unique, beautiful, and the work of a great artist. Jason Becker is a truly inspiring guitarist, who, through his music, paints a picture of the complicated aspects of his mind.