If you’re a fan of virtuoso metal guitar playing then you probably know these guys. If you don’t it’s time to take a break, put on your rock and roll metal shoes, and check out this fabulous group. These two musicians took metal to an entirely new level. It’s like what Miles Davis and Chick Corea did with traditional jazz in the 1960s. Cacophony was an American heavy metal band formed in 1986 by guitarists Marty Friedman and Jason Becker. They came together in San Francisco and were part of the Mike Varney-produced Shrapnel Records roster, known for highlighting guitar virtuosos. The band is considered one of the pivotal acts in the development of neo-classical metal and shred guitar music.
Formation and Early Years
Marty Friedman and Jason Becker met through Shrapnel Records, a label specializing in the shred and neo-classical metal genres. Friedman, already an established musician with his work in the band Hawaii, was looking for a like-minded guitarist to push the boundaries of heavy metal guitar playing. Jason Becker, a guitar prodigy still in his teens with a penchant for intricate compositions, proved to be the perfect counterpart.
Cacophony released their debut album, Speed Metal Symphony, in 1987. The album was a showcase for Friedman and Becker’s masterful guitar work, blending neo-classical phrasing with the speed and aggression of heavy metal. It set a new standard for guitar heroics and featured tracks with complex dual harmonies, which became a signature for the band.
Following the success of their debut, Cacophony released their second album, Go Off!, in 1988. It continued in the vein of their first release but showcased a musical evolution with more melodically structured songs and technical prowess. The tracks from this album demonstrated the band’s growth and musical maturity while retaining the high-energy shred that fans expected.
Musical Style and Influence
Cacophony’s music was characterized by its technical and intricate guitar work. Both Friedman and Becker were heavily influenced by classical music, which was evident in their compositions. They often incorporated the use of exotic scales, arpeggios, and complex rhythm changes, which set them apart from other metal acts of the time.
Their music also had a strong melodic sense, with Friedman’s more fluid, eastern-influenced playing complementing Becker’s neoclassical style. This blend of influences created a unique sound that would inspire countless guitarists in the future.
Legacy and Influence
After the band disbanded in 1989, both Friedman and Becker continued their careers. Marty Friedman joined Megadeth, contributing to some of their most critically acclaimed albums, while Jason Becker released a solo album, Perpetual Burn, and briefly joined David Lee Roth’s band before being diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
Becker’s diagnosis was a tragic blow to the guitar community. Despite losing his ability to play guitar, he continued to compose music with the aid of computer software and has become a symbol of courage and determination.
Speed Metal Symphony
Cacophony’s first foray into the world of shred metal, Speed Metal Symphony, introduced a new realm of guitar technicality. I mean we are talking some killer smoking stuff that will make you open the windows to cool off. Marty Friedman and Jason Becker’s dual guitar harmonies and counterpoint arrangements defined the band’s sound and pushed the limits of what was thought possible on the instrument. With tracks that ranged from the blistering title track Speed Metal Symphony to more melodic pieces, the album is a landmark release for shred enthusiasts.
On this album, guitars were helmed by Marty Friedman and Jason Becker, displaying their virtuosic talent. Atma Anur provided the backbone of the compositions on drums, and Peter Marrino contributed the vocals that complemented the high-octane instrumentation. The bass lines were executed by a combination of Marty Friedman and studio musicians, showcasing the collaborative effort behind the rhythm section. The album was produced by the renowned Mike Varney and recorded at Prairie Sun Recording Studios, laying down the tracks that would resonate with metal fans for years to come.
The album’s lineup featured Marty Friedman on guitars, Jason Becker on guitars, Jimmy O’Shea on bass, and Atma Anur and Deen Castronovo on drums.
CD Track Listings:
- “Savage” – 5:50
- “Where My Fortune Lies” – 4:33
- “The Ninja” – 7:25
- “Concerto” – 4:38
- “Burn the Ground” – 6:51
- “Desert Island” – 6:25
- “Speed Metal Symphony” – 9:35
- Marty Friedman – Guitars, Bass
- Jason Becker – Guitars
- Atma Anur – Drums
- Peter Marrino – Vocals (on some tracks)
Go Off! saw Cacophony expanding their sound with more melodic structures and the same level of instrumental prowess as their debut. The album is notable for its diverse influences and musicality, solidifying the band’s place in the metal community. The songs were characterized by their complex structures and the interplay between the lead instruments.
The lineup on Go Off! included the return of Marty Friedman and Jason Becker on guitars, each contributing intricate solos and rhythms that created a tapestry of sound. Jimmy O’Shea handled the bass duties, providing the grooves and foundations for the tracks. Deen Castronovo brought in his exceptional skills on the drums, driving the rhythm with precision and flair. The vocal duties were again managed by Peter Marrino, whose voice added another dimension to the instrumental assault. Recorded under the guidance of producer Mike Varney at Fantasy Studios, Go Off! captures the essence of a band that was both of its time and timeless in its technical accomplishments. This album will leave you sweating!
The album’s lineup featured Marty Friedman on guitars, Jason Becker on guitars, Jimmy O’Shea on bass, Deen Castronovo on drums and Peter Marrino on vocals.
CD Track Listings:
- “X-Ray Eyes” – 5:10
- “E.S.P.” – 6:08
- “Stranger” – 3:25
- “Go Off!” – 3:46
- “Black Cat” – 7:45
- “Sword of the Warrior” – 5:08
- “Floating World” – 5:10
- “Images” – 3:44
Complete List Of Cacophony Albums And Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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