Welcome to the first OSV review of the monthly video game music arrangement competition Dwelling of Duels (DoD). This competition has a few major rules: each song must be (unless otherwise specified) greater in length than two minutes and the primary instrument(s) (there must be at least one) be live-played. Backing tracks that are sequenced are permitted.
Having recently celebrated it’s 10th anniversary and still going strong, there should be no shortage of material to get down and dirty with. The structure of the content may change from time to time but for this first article, let’s hit it with a review of each song.
Also worth noting: if you tend to listen to only the top 3 songs or so, you’re missing out on some incredible music! (you’re also “doing it wrong.”)
Having said that, here we go!
#1 ansgaros – The King of Dragons – “Hooooo!!”
By and large, ansgaros is our king of medleys of games that frequently have nothing to do with each other. Having something come straight out of and staying with King of Dragons is quite the surprise. The song never ever gets boring though! Plenty of variety within the confines of the excellently arranged and well-produced track. Efficient engineering and skillful guitar playing make for a track that is easy to listen to and enjoy. Plenty of replay value.
#2 NesTalgia – TMNT 2: The Arcade Game – “Sewer’s Gone Djent”
“Djent” is probably the most ridiculous word I’ve seen in a long time and I’m waiting for history to play out before someone finally says “this is ridiculous.” In my own personal dictionary, it goes up there with non-words like “irregardless” and current usage of “decimated.” Having said that, NesTalgia’s track certainly hits the nail on the head of that current definition. If Animals as Leaders decided they were going to do an arrangement of a video game song, I imagine it would sound quite a bit like this. The only comment I would make is with regards to the bass guitar line: the attack comes through strong but the actual tone of the notes gets buried in the mix. Would love to hear more of it.
#3 VankiP – Street of Rage 2 – “Under Logic”
Funky! Immediately followed by latinesque piano work and right into guitar octaves. The rhythm section is fantastic throughout and a more unique sound than quite a few entries from over the years. Mixing all those elements together actually works surprisingly well. Great job on this track!
#4 hoha – TMNT 2: The Arcade Game – “Stoner Turtles”
Plenty of TMNT 2 Arcade love this month. The title is misleading though: way too much energy to be much of a stoner track! The verbal cues are very cute. This is a very well mixed track with great instrument playing and a consistently solid rhythm line. Nice double-bassa at the end too!
#5 Harmsing – Lethal Weapon – “I’m Getting Too bald For This Shit”
There’s a bald joke in there somewhere.
It’s ironic to me that this track isn’t the track with something related to “Stoner” in the title. Seriously. This is the arrangement where King Crimson and Dave Weckl got together and said “Hey, those dudes in the American states of Colorado and Washington State just legalized recreational marijuana smoking. Let’s arrange something from a video game and commemorate that milestone.” And it was so. If you’re listening in order of top to bottom, this is a fantastic break in the cycle of hard-hitting songs.
#6 Ivan Hakstok – Viewtiful Joe – “Not Your Above-Average Joe”
Happy metal! This was my favorite of the entries this month. Good playing, variety in the theme, it almost sounds like an early 90s cartoon theme song in the way it’s played. Very enjoyable! Difficult to stay in a cranky mood when this track is going.
#7 Kroth – Battletoads – “I Have A Rash”
Starts out borderlining somewhat of a Doom Metal feel to it and then dives right into the Battletoads familiar sounds. The breakdown at 2:23 is a great deal of fun to office-mosh to.
Bonus points for the Quantum Shot at the end. The King approves. May your tribe increase.
#8 GearX2 – Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (Genesis) – “The Justice That Power Rangers Do”
Arpeggio city! Great driving rhythms and overall feel. Even if it’s Power Rangers. Disclaimer: I missed the Power Rangers boat. If you are a fan of Power Rangers material, this is THE song for you.
#9 Demonstray, Maxiamaru – Double Dragon Neon – Neon Bunghole
If this was the mid-80’s and Duran Duran decided they needed to arrange music from the future of video gaming, this would be that track. So much synthy goodness in the back of some nice rock feel going on. Eventually the synthy stuff takes a lead and drives us into the 6/8 Shattered Dreams ending. Seriously. 80s all up in this.
#10 Mak Eightman – Double Draon 3 – “Doppel Drache Ist Fur Alle Da”
Being thankful that I don’t have to actually pronounce the title, moving onto the LOUDNESS WAR. Ladies and Gentlemen and Demonstray, it’s official. The loudness war is over and Mak Eightman won. Hands down. I’d love to know how he managed to keep the kick as punchy as it was and have it be that squashed. Holy moly!
Great feeling track too although the brickwalling did add a bit of pulsing to the overall mix.
#11 streifig – Scott Pilgrim vs. The World – “Scott Pilgrim’s Lesbians Song”
This may very well be the first “coming of age” track that I can remember hearing in Dwelling of Duels. It’s the kind of track I would expect to hear when going to a nice folk festival. I can actually in my head imagine the view of a girl and a boy walking down the street together, their shoulders bumping slightly, then they blush a bit and look at each other then quickly away at something else before their hands gently brush, almost as if by accident, and then slowly their fingers intertwine and the walking scene continues, fade to black, roll credits.
Love this song.
I’m guessing this has something to do with floppy disks as opposed to flaccidity? I hope? Maybe?
Also, this track definitely brings the funk into the house. Love the wah guitar combined with piano playing, and Wild Cat’s bass playing is superb. Great feeling track.
#13 Daniel Alm – The Adventures of Bayou Billy – “Redneck Gays of Funk”
Two funky tracks in a row in the listings. All anonymous. Sometimes the group fiction writes itself.
The interspersed voice tracks definitely make this track fun. Well, so does the music, but it’s a nice twist on the usual thing. Great source material done good justice here.
For a moment it felt like the track was starting out like Unfoirgiven from The Black Album. Then it gets all heavy and stuff. Good times! I enjoyed the changeups from straight to swing rhythms during the song. A nice bit of variety and of course having the familiar Danny Elfman Batman theme throughout is always fun!
Another Scott Pilgrim track! And a completely different feel to it compared to the previous one in the list. I like the combination of clean and dirty guitars all at the same time. The intonation on the guitars needed some adjusting I think though. Not too huge a deal but it was a bit distracting.
16 Hyde209 – Alien Storm – “We Are Busters!”
The voicings cracked me up. So much. In that good way. Great ambience. Probably one of the more unique tracks this month. The timings were a bit distracting but otherwise it was a fun track to dive into. The drive-thru motifs still crack me up.
17 Cyan – The Combatribes – “The Demon Clowns”
This had some of the more unique guitar sounds this month and I really dug it. Definitely worth listening to. (see? we’re near the bottom of the list and it’s still good material!)
I can’t decide if finishing out the 2 minute minimum mark with sound effects is cheating or not but that’s not for me to decide. Good job!
18 valence – Double Dragon 2 – “The Unloved Ones”
Harmonies, harmonies, harmonies. There were a couple of them that didn’t exactly work.
Having said that, great track overall. A new and unique take on Double Dragon 2. The guitar octaves were mixed well without one overpowering the other.
19 chimonstray – Altered Beast – “Rise from your Vage”
When I saw Altered Beast on the track list, I did not expect to start out with pianos and strings. Great! Variety is something that make DoD as great as it is and a piano and strings track is always welcome. New and fresh takes are needed to keep our little scene alive.
That’s it for this month! Come back next month for a review of SunSoft month!
-= norg =-Tags: Competition, Contest, DoD, Dwelling of Duels, Quantum Shot, Reviews, stoof