Personnel: Peter Marrino (vocals); Jason Becker, Marty Friedman (guitar); Deen Castronovo, Kenny Stavropoulos (drums).
Recording information: Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, CA; Prairie Sun Studios, Cotati, CA; Studio D, Sausalito, CA.
Cacophony's second (and last) effort improves on the formula established on their Speed Metal Symphony album. The brainchild of guitarists Marty Friedman and Jason Becker, Cacophony is basically an arena in which the two shredders can indulge their most decadent instrumental ideas. Their songs are as influenced by speed metal as they are by neo-classical prog rock, which makes them even more intense than many of their Shrapnel brethren. On Go Off!, the duo clean up the sound a bit and pare back the guitar excesses just a tad, allowing for a slightly more song-oriented approach (similar to what Racer X does). "Stranger" even has a decent pop hook in its chorus. Lead singer Peter Marrino adds some rather overwrought heavy metal braying and some truly ridiculous lyrics (sample: "Don't mess with a black cat/if you believe in superstition/never mess with a black cat!") which may turn off some listeners. But Friedman's and Becker's guitars are still the stars of the show here. Their preference for dissonance, odd time signatures, and unpredictably complex arrangements make Go Off! a very interesting listen at times. There are even some beautiful moments, like the outro of the title track, where the noise gives way to breathy keyboards and a lyrical solo. For a better sampling of these guitarists' talents, without the annoying vocals, check out their individual solo albums: Marty Friedman's Dragon's Kiss and Jason Becker's Perpetual Burn. ~ Andy Hinds