Cacophony - Go Off!
Shrapnel Records
Speed Metal
8 songs (40'13")
Release year: 1988
Shrapnel Records
Reviewed by Erik
Archive review

The world of "shred guitar" has always been kind of that oddball loner type, like that prodigy genius in high school that's taking advanced calculus grad courses while the rest of us dolts are remanded to trying to remember the squares up to 12 X 12 and doing burnouts in the parking lot. With the kind of talent on hand that is required in this elite circle, it's often a difficult enigma determining how best to inject their skills into a band or project. Will their playing overwhelm the rest of the band? How do you utilize their contributions without diminishing them into the background?

What we have with Cacophony is sort of the opposite -- two astounding guitarists making their own genre-domination album, with mixed results. That's the beauty of a dedicated shred project like this one, everyone knows from the start that they are here to support Jason Becker and Marty Friedman. Of course, you'd expect something titled Go Off! to amaze in every aspect, and on the playing front it delivers. Pavement trembles. Children hide behind parents. Blazing riffs and lightning solos abound, as they should, but whoever decided they should bring in Peter Marrino to yowl away on most of the tracks like a cat being thrown off a cliff should be locked in a room with Ralf Scheepers for a month.

The listener is bombarded from the absolute get-go with savage neo-classical shreddery, and anyone who has already heard Speed Metal Symphony or listened to Racer X will know to expect technical perfection and fretwork that scorches the ground beneath them. Those who haven't will need to bring an extra pair of pants, and those desiring an intelligent storyline or even competent lyrical content will be sorely disappointed, as the extreme cheesiness within is severely laughable, almost to the point of being truly sad. What a waste, in retrospect, as with more depth and thought put in this could have been so much more than it is.

X-Ray Eyes sets you back on your heels with the sheer blinding licks and riffing right out of the gate. The intro to E.S.P., by contrast, sets up an exotic classical guitar intro that almost makes the listener wish for more by the time the heavy distortion rips through. On Black Cat you can really differentiate between the styles of Becker and Friedman, with the former displaying a harder, quicker pace and the latter emoting a bit more texture and melody. As you may have gathered already, it's the instrumentals Images and the title track that really dominate the album, not shackled by Marrino's near-intolerable singing and free to roam the skies. The latter, in particular, is the mack-daddy of light-speed soloing, putting the likes of Chris Impellitteri and Yngwie Malmsteen in the back seat. It seriously numbs the brain with pure speed. More interesting, though, are the leads and solos within the non-instrumental songs. Floating World is a great example, as well as Stranger and Sword Of The Warrior. These tracks seem to present a slightly higher level of songwriting than Speed Metal Symphony, if only from a purely song structure standpoint.

Ultimately though, aside from the flat production, it's the vocals and lyrics that bring the overall level of Go Off! crashing down from the perceived parapet that its stigma set it upon. Seriously, with two hyper-fast axe masters and a quirky title like that one, this should have rocked the world of shred metal in a way that it just didn't. Of course, today the legend of Becker and Friedman keeps the pair of Cacophony albums on a bit of a pedestal anyways, and you may wish to seek out Becker's solo album Perpetual Burn for a better representation of what was trying to be communicated here. But one can't help but wonder what Go Off!, despite its commercial failure, could have been with perhaps a different vocalist . . . or none at all.

Killing Songs :
X-Ray Eyes, Images, Go Off!, Black Cat
Erik quoted 76 / 100
Other albums by Cacophony that we have reviewed:
Cacophony - Speed Metal Symphony reviewed by Brent and quoted 75 / 100
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