52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2002
I read a review by someone who was apparently unimpressed with Jason Becker's playing on Perpetual burn, and would like to add a few comments of my own.
Yes, it is true that there are other wunderkind guitarists out there who can play as well as Jason Becker did at age 17. One thing that needs to be mentioned though is that Jason didn't just plug in and start shredding arpeggios and scalar runs with no attention to what he was really doing. He defined his own STYLE at age 17. Jason displayed a very precocious grasp of acid jazz, speed metal (shredding), classical, and blues.
At first listen, Jason's imaginative style and songwriting are almost abrasive because they are so different from all the neoclassical speed metal "clones". But once you have listened to this album a few times, you begin to feel Jason's personality. You begin to understand that he shouldn't only be lauded for his talent at such a young age, but you begin to realize that his musical imagination is far beyond Yngwie Malmsteen, Vinnie Moore, and others. Jason didn't just take his melodies and harmonize them by replaying everything a 3rd higher. He instead showed true musicianship, and incredible songwriting ability by blending 3 or sometimes 4 completely different melodies. The result is what at first seems to be a (excuse the pun) cacophony, but as you begin to pick out each individual melody and feel how they all come together to form a larger cohesive composition, you can't help but marvel at the brilliant musicianship of Jason. To say "Oh wow! He did all this when he was 17!" is somewhat of an insult to Jason. In my opinion, having listened to hours upon hours of different neoclassical metal, Jason's album "Perpetual Burn" would have been an incredible achievement no matter his age.
Just listen to "Altitudes", and you'll understand why Jason Becker was so far beyond all his contemporaries at the time. Personally I don't care that people can "copycat" Jason's playing. What I would like to know is if these same people can show as much style, songwriting ability, musicianship, originality, humor, emotion, aggression, and talent as Jason. I'm sure I've missed some great guitarists over the years, but back when Perpetual Burn first came out, Jason stood apart from all the other guitarists who were basically saying "look how fast I can play! whee!", and said "I can do that too, but hey, check this out, I can do more than copy Bach and Mozart, I can be original."
There are very few people who have as broad a variation of styles that Jason has shown in his tragically short career. Some names that come to mind are Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. And their careers have spanned several times the number of years that Jason's did. Listen to Perpetual Burn and Jason's other recordings, and like me you will most likely longingly and regretfully wonder what he would be doing nowadays. I for one believe that he would have been in the upper eschelon of guitarists with Mr Vai and Mr Satriani.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2000
4-1/2 stars. Ahh...Shrapnel. Growing up as a Shrapneldevotee, I know the names...Howe, Kotzen, Gilbert, Friedman,MacAlpine. The bands - Cacophony, Racer X, Apocrypha, Vicious Rumors. And then there's the mighty Jason Becker. Cacophony's two albums introduced the guitar world to Friedman and Becker, and then _Perpetual Burn_ and _Dragon's Kiss_. It was a pretty unique time in rock/metal music, being as there were as many shredders as there were stars in the sky, so its possible that you might be tempted to relegate this to quaint historic niche. But if you feel the need for speed, or perhaps a little Bach-and-Roll, this album won't disappoint. Becker is similar to Friedman in his use of odd modes, off-kilter time signatures and his general uber-shred capability, but thats about where the similarity ends. The composition is strange, Jason makes odd musical choices and some of them work, some don't. Whereas _Dragon's Kiss_ by Friedman reminds me more of tame heavy metal with thrash leanings, this album, as heavy as it is, reminds me more of what might happen if Al DiMeola might have made an all-shred heavy metal album in the middle of his tenure with Return To Forever. His tone is very sharp, wide and agressive, with definite overtones of Vai. His playing is very dramatic yet abstract, with heavy whammy and loads of bending, all piling on-top of a hyper-blues afficianado-type style. That makes it a bit more of a dynamic listen than some of his counterparts, which is fortunate, being as the trademark awful in-house Shrapnel production tends to be muddy and dark (pity, for Atma Anur is a fine drummer and deserves better treatment than this). This disc begs for a re-master, because the playing is impassioned and without equal in the shred community. His extreme melodic sensibility is very evident, even through some of the sillier wanking passages, and although Cacophony's _Go Off_ is a protoype demonstration of the pinnacle of metal-shred technique that quite possibly will never be equaled, Jason on his own manages technique galore, with plenty of real music, too. Love the undistorted, meditative "Air", which is a pleasant respite from the intensity of the album itself. Its a tragedy that first David Lee Roth, then ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) took away this young genius before his true voice could be heard. Like Jeff Buckley's _Grace_ this album is immensley satisfying and mind-blowing, but you have to wonder what could have been.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 1999
Perpetual Burn: a man with seemingly no technical limitations playing exactly what he wants on electric guitar. Jason Becker makes extremely difficult passages sound easy because they're all over the place! The music is beautiful and interesting: definitely worth it for the guitar lover. I can't get over how awesome the title piece is...
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2004
I think it is sick to be comparing yngwie to becker just because becker was influenced by him. why not just say it is all crap because bach and bethoven were the original inspirations...
anyways, about the cd... this cd literally brought tears to my eyes. i had gone for 3 years listening to zeppelin, metallica and acdc and was bored of easy playing of guitar. i looked into satriani and vai, now dont get my wrong they are good, but they were not what i was looking for. luckily i stumbled upon a recommendation for becker. i bought speed metal symphony and was astonished by the speed and melody exacting the cd. concerto and speed metal symphony are truely inspirational songs. its a shame that they had a vocalist interupt most of their songs on that cd. then after the 100th time of listening to that i needed to get perpetual burn, and thats when the tears of amazement dropped. I waited two weeks for the cd and popped it in the cd player, and was introduced to altitudes. I couldnt believe what i was hearing, steady and extremely melodic, then speedy and melodic. it is hard to believe that someone was actually able to add passion into speed. i then had the priveledge to listen to perpetual burn and mabels fatal fable. my jaw was down to my shoulders by then. air, air is the song that brings forth pure emotion. the intro has a strange sound to it, but still good. the guitars being clean you would think would have the occational scratch or twang in the sound, but not with becker. the playing was so smooth and exact, you just crumble as a guitarist inside knowing how much skill that takes. the next three tracks, temple of the absurd, eleven blue egyptians, and dweller in the celler, all have the more heavy sound of the cd. maybe freidman, who is also an amazing guitarist, added a little heavy flavor to it. in eleven blue egyptians there is a marvelous blues progression. it actually had a unique blues style to it, not the same progressions over and over again. dweller in the cellar i would say is the heaviest song, yet it is still melodic, which is almost nerve racking thinking about it. the finisher opus pocus is a favorite. it almost sounds like a metal lullaby at first, then it transforms into a powerful solo progression, then back into the lullaby. the only thing about this song is the chord progression after the lullaby, though i can tolerate to listen to. i thought becker could do better, but its only 11 seconds so it doesnt ruin the song. the rest of the song is emotion and melody, all you need for a good cd.
There was something going around about how becker has lack of tone and cant pick right compared to malmsteen, but that is far from true. the times becker has the scratching sound to this picks just add to the emotion, almost as if the guitar itself was crying. i cant rightfully say hes the best guitarist ever, simply because i havent heard every guitarist in the world, but he is far by the best guitarist ive ever heard. the fact that he has little repetition in his songs (excluding opus pocus) and has such fresh material no one will ever be able to mimic. malmsteen is awesome and truely great, but does have the tendancy to recycle same licks in different songs.
bluntly... perpetual burn isnt repetative, never gets boring, speedy yet melodic, and especially full of emotion... 10 stars out of 5.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2005
I heard this album six years ago, and I still think it's a very cool CD. The technique in this CD is really spectacular, although other parts sound straight out of an exercise manual. Even John Petrucci sounds like this at times, so it's no wonder Marty Friedman once said Petrucci reminded him of Jason Becker. But anyway, even without knowing that this CD was composed and played by a 17-year-old (not 18 as said below), the musicality is very impressive, albeit still raw and even juvenile to a small degree.
My favorite track here is a tearjerker, not out of sentimentality, but simply because it sounds so powerful; I am talking about the first track, 'Altitudes.' There's even some counterpoint with the keyboards that really adds to the musicality of it. The interlude in the middle isn't very hard technically, but that's beside the point, because it's just plain beautiful and heightens the moment. Very emotional sounding playing, especially right before the last part.
Another favorite, and the most impressive compositionally, is 'Air.' Unlike the intro of 'Images' of Jason's former band Cacophony, the chord changes and the melodies over it fit quite well. I have no idea how Jason composed this, if he actually wrote the thing down, or just added guitar part after guitar part in a more-or-less arranged fashion. The baroque-ness of it really comes across, while still sounding 'Jason-y.'
'Dweller in the Cellar' is another favorite of mine, although I really wish that the slow dragging riff was completely obliterated, it is an unnecessary one minute and a half of the piece.
I love Marty's guest solos here; in a way, Marty's 'slower' style maintains the musical aspect, preventing Jason from wanking the whole thing overboard.
All tracks have their moments, and even if you don't play guitar or care about guitar, there are some melodies that you'd appreciate.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2003
I don't like the constant comparisons to Yngwie, first of all. I'm not putting down Yngwie at all, he's awesome, and inspired Becker anyway. However, Becker AMAZES me. I've seen all the virtuosos, all the gods, and Becker just seems to stand out. I know about Satriani, Vai, Petrucci, Yngwie, Johnson, and all the old schoolers like Page and Hendrix. Like I said, i just prefer Becker. Listen to all the people who praise the song Air.. its the best fingerpicking i've ever heard.
I can't help but compare Becker... not to Malmsteen, but to Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix died when he was 27.. Jason was diagnosed with ALS in his 20s. Both of them were guitar gods. Well that's about all they had in common but whatever. And i love the fact that Becker is still creating music in his mind although he can't create it with his fingers. He is probably the most talented musician i've ever heard and considering his uniqueness and his stamina with the debilitating disease he has, it's easy to understand why he's my favorite "shredder" although he's so much more.
Long live Jason Becker.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2005
Jason Becker is by far the best instrumental guitarist ever. He has such a great sense of melody and this album really shows it. Some people think shred and instrumental guitar is too technical and no feel but this album has so much emotion in it you'll never stop listening to it, all songs on this album are excellent no album fillers, no over the top shred solo just brillant music I recommend this to any and all fans of music. This album is simply exceptional.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2006
Regardless of what anyone else tells about "mindless guitar playing," "wanking," and "non-emotional songs," this album is an essential for anyone with ears. And it's definitely necessary for any guitarist.
Just for a bit of background, Jason had a lot of these songs running through his head back in his early Cacophony days (Check out the Rasberry and Blackberry Jams to find out what I'm talking about). He finally had a chance to write them out and record them with Mike Varney on Shrapnel after Cacophony fell apart. Unfortunately (for us at least), Jason never had a chance to write another all out shred album for us (At least not an album with him manning the guitar) because he was recruited as David Lee Roth's main axe-slinger shortly after releasing the album (Sort of like how Marty was recruited in Megadeth shortly after releasing Dragon's Kiss). But, anyways, now onto the review.
This album is a musical masterpiece, completely instrumental, and full of twisted melodies and 64th note, 6-string sweeps. I love every song on this album, but that's just me. The standout tracks are:
1. Altitudes - The crowd favorite, or so it seems. It's full of emotion and beauty, and it's my belief that this song was Jason's baby. It's a beautiful composition full of amazing melodies and complex guitar licks.
2. Perpetual Burn - The title track, this one is blazing. I wouldn't call it as ripe in melody as Altitudes is, but it's still a great track. The pure speed of the song is enough to impress (Although that's not the only reason to enjoy it).
3. Air - The song that brough Jason into the neo-classical scene. I still don't consider him to be a neo-classical guitarist per se, but I still think this song is a great piece. When I first heard it, I thought it was 2 guitars playing different parts, which is true in a few parts, but for the majority of the song it's just Jason playing 2 parts simultaneously, classical style. It's a great piece, and one heck of a finger twister to play.
4. And last but not least, Eleven Blue Egyptians - Marty's guest solos in this song were enough to make me love it the first time I heard it. In a way, it reminds me of a few Cacophony songs, the heavy riffing and the dual guitars firing off in both channels. It's a great song though, well thought out, and well executed. But the dueling solo between Marty and Jason is really the climax of the song, check it out.
I personally recommend every song on this album, and all of Jason's other works, as well as Marty's, and if you enjoy all of those, look into Cacophony. Just do some digging, if you truly enjoy shred and are a fan of the guitar gods, there's always someone out there who will point you in the right direction.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2002
I first discovered jason becker through Marty friedman, former guitarist in megadeth. Friedman was talking about him in one of his videos and said he was a true composer of beethoven status. That seemed laughable to me at first, and at that time i couldnt think of a better guitar player than marty friedman. But i did my research and started downloading becker songs and i was blown away. The first song i heard was altitudes and my mind couldnt comprehend the sheer technical, structural, and melodic aspects of his guitar playing. It was unbeliveable. I'm a guitar player myself and becker has been 90 percent of my influence. The work on P-burn is nothing short of genius and if you dont buy this album your just lazy, cuz i know you want it, and you know you want it. BUY IT
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2005
Jason Becker is an absolutely amazing guitarist, so is Yngwie. Both have a different stlyes and I love both, sure Yngwie maybe get repetitious some times but (and i might get flamed for this) Isn't it just the same with Guns and roses? Not to mention every punk band that ever existed. So lets just keep talk about Yngwie for Yngwie products =D
This CD really opened my eyes to what really is possible guitar-wise and musically wise, Jason was indeed 18 when he made this album and the music genius erally shows even at this age. Imagine what he would be doing on the guitar now-a-days if he hadn't of been struck down with ALS (I agree with the comment about always taking the good musicians;)) But Jason may still pull through just yet, don't give up hope.
Each song on this CD has it's own feel and uniqueness, you'll love it, I guarentee it! =D