Game Music, Reviews

Who’s Bad? Metroid Arrange 25th Anniversary (Review)

December 19, 2011 | | 4 Comments Share thison Facebook Who’s Bad? Metroid Arrange 25th Anniversary (Review)on Twitter

While The Bad Dudes announced their 25th anniversary tribute to the Metroid franchise back in August, we haven’t heard a whole lot about it leading up to its December 20th release date. I felt there was much more hype behind CHRONOTORIOUS, which I loved to death, but I admit I actually preferred having this album a little more nebulous before I was finally given the opportunity to listen to it.

The album is out tomorrow, and we’ve checked out all it has to offer. Will it hold your ears in captivity with each and every piece?

Find out in our review after the jump.

The Bad Dudes sure know how to pick them. First Chrono Trigger, and now Metroid. I’m disappointed by how Nintendo has largely ignored the 25th anniversary of the Metroid franchise in favor or heaping attention (kind of rightfully) on the Zelda franchise. I’m glad to the Bad Dudes giving this franchise the attention it deserves, however, as the works of Hip Tanaka, Kenji Yamamoto, Minako Hamano, and the others have been some of my favorites over the years.

I think fans are going to want to immediately draw comparisons to the CHRONOTORIOUS album, although I don’t think anyone would argue that the music from the two game franchises are vastly different. Metroid has always been about ambiance and exploration, and as such, the music here is much less ‘out front’ compared to the melodic Chrono Trigger themes.

This is reflected right from the start in Tim Sheehy’s arrangement of the title theme from the original Metroid, titled “The Theme.” While Sheehy adds in chugging electric guitar work and some snappy percussion that had me thinking Linkin Park, there’s still that pervasive sense of darkness and mystery in the pads.

Knowing the Bad Dudes, I was expecting some classy jazz fusion, and they certainly deliver. Ailsean gives us “Super Funktroid,” an excellent fusion piece with his signature live guitar work and jazz organ. I love the rhythmic variation on the theme.  Also in terms of rhythmic variations, Mustin delivers gold with his take on Kraid’s theme, “KR44441D,” providing a laid back vibe and a fresh feel that makes this one my favorite track on the album.

The ever-prolific Mazedude offers three tracks in all. I usually give him a hard time for his characteristic ‘tracked’ sound, and his contributions here are not any different. I actually found myself enjoying them a whole lot with his take on the Metroid Prime menu theme, “Grand Metroid Island,” which takes a wonky and pitch bendy approach with a Caribbean twist and “Diselbrainage,” an explosive drum ‘n’ bass version of “Mother Brain” from Super Metroid. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard the latter somewhere else before (maybe OCR?), but it’s still one of the best tracks here. “Tallon et Nox,” on the other hand, doesn’t particularly stand out, and I hardly recognized it until the synth lead came in.

In terms of atmosphere, DiggiDis offers “Spikes Are Everywhere,” an arrangement of the red soil swamp area from Super Metroid, bringing fat bass, chopped vocal snippets of “The last metroid in in captivity,” and some heavy electronic breakdowns to the same mellow ambiance of the original. zykO also gets ambient with his 7-minute long “Drift,” an arrangement of “Ice Valley” from Metroid Prime with belltones and droning pads. The added filtered electric guitar and jazz bass reminds me of Brink of Time, which is one of the biggest compliments I know how to bestow. Mustin strikes again with another excellent track (he’s definitely the MVP on this album), “Singularity,” which visits Maridia from Super Metroid. It slowly builds from a repetitive almost siren-like tone into a melancholy and haunting take on the theme that picks up when electronic percussion is added.

There are also a lot of surprises on this album.  I love Kunal Majmudar’s super funky Daft Punk-esque “Phazon Punch” (an arrangement of “Emperor Ing Battle 1” from Metroid Prime 2), although his super happy “Credtroids” from Metroid II is totally out of place among the other material on this album. Posu Yan also gives us a shocker with “The Next Sunrise,” an 8-bit remix of “Brinstar” from Super Metroid with an added rap that I swore was zykO before I had the artist list. The lyrics are actually pretty interesting, talking about the different creatures encountered on Zebes, and there’s a nice electric piano part towards the end that lends the track a cool R&B with great production throughout. “Bubble Tea” is a piano solo of “Norfair” from the original Metroid by dhsu, and is quite lovely, taking a surprisingly sweet note, while Joshua Morse creates a 13-minute long continuous medley that follows through the story of Super Metroid from landing on Zebes to several areas and boss themes. It’s very well produced and has a very cinematic quality about it, reminding me of Kunal’s long track from CHRONOTORIOUS (I was again wrong in assuming this was Kunal’s track before seeing the artist list).

Then there’s the hidden track, “Like a BOSS!” by Mustin, which meshes Ridley’s theme with the spore boss theme, which is easily one of the most under appreciated pieces from the game. The arrangement is a much-appreciated bonus.

The packaging sports some great comic-style artwork as well as liner notes for each of the tracks from their respective arrangers. In all, it’s a nice package.  But there’s still the question: did this album blow me away like CHRONOTORIOUS did? Not really, but the arrangements are a perfect tribute to the source material, capturing the essence of what made the original music so great while adding fresh interpretation.  It’s certainly a great tribute to a series that has wowed fans for 25 years. The printing is limited to 1,000 copies, so you better claim yours before they disappear. And they will.

What do you think of Nintendo’s neglect of the Metroid franchise? Are you happy to hear the Bad Dudes take matters into their own hands to ensure the series gets the attention it deserves for this momentous occasion?

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