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Graveyard Grooves with The One Ups New Album (review)

October 25, 2014 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook Graveyard Grooves with The One Ups New Album (review)on Twitter

It’s that time of the year when creepy music is what’s blaring on everyone’s stereos, be it from games, movies, television or what have you. Halloween is perfect for that niche portion of those who love all manner of spooky and scary to really indulge in the excessive amounts of what the season has to offer. What equally great about this time of year is that you usually get at least one new album from a band or group that focuses squarely on horror and scary-themed music, and The One Ups have decided to be the forerunner this season with Songs for the Recently Deceased.

This album features an assortment of tunes from a variety of games that are either fully immersed into the spooky and the horrific, or select stages that sport a creepy feel and fall into the category. It’s not just your Resident Evils and your Silent Hills, either; though they do make appearances. And of course, everything sports that smooth and chill tone that The One Ups are known for dishing out in high quality. So sit back, relax and let your brain switch to the mellow macabre.

A friend of mine described his impression of this album as “Like it was made for me.”, and I honestly have to agree 100%. Just taking a look at the track list put a huge smile on my face for its inclusion of games that you wouldn’t normally see from a band of The One Ups caliber. To be fair, though, the band has a history of choosing songs from games that aren’t heavily covered by other VG bands, if at all.

“Dance Off at Silent Hill” is a cover of the main Silent Hill theme by Akira Yamaoka, and it caught me off guard as to how the song segways from the chilling familiar strum we’re used to hearing at the beginning of the tune into just straight chill and an almost upbeat rhythm for the bulk of the rest of the track. (“Chill” being what a good chunk of this album consists of) Gone is the morose undertones that were iconic in the original version of the song, and yet it’s not something that ruins the arrangement, and is in fact one of the freshest takes on the song I’ve heard thus far. If you’re looking for something that sticks closer to its original tune, however, “Tristram Und Isolde” carries a lot of the spirit of the Tristram theme from the original Diablo composed by Matt Uelmae. Guest artist Ryan Cockerham’s violin work does an excellent job of recreating the familiar melody of one of the most iconic town themes in gaming. “The Bane of Kanto”, from the original Pokemon Red/Blue is about as smooth as you can get and flows consistently through the entire song with some gorgeous harmony permeating the entire thing.

The A Nightmare on Elm Street NES game composed by David Wise is admittedly something I never had the chance to ever play (though the movies caused a fair bit of trauma in a younger me years ago), so the rather cheery tone of “Bedtime is Deadtime” seems almost out of place given my knowledge of the theatrical source material the game is based on. Regardless, the band brings the funk hardcore with the track with some fun guitar work. “Some Day My Vince Will Come”, based off of Vincent’s theme “The Nightmare Begins” by Nobou Uematsu, features guest vibraphone work by musician Adam Collins that makes the song akin to something you’d hear in a posh night club. Just imagine Vincent in a suit and tie, sipping a martini and being James Bondesque instead of brooding and you have an idea of what this song is like.

“Ballad of Raccoon City” comes from the Resident Evil: Outbreak game, which was not nearly as well known as the numbered titles. More guest appearances, this time featuring Nathan McLeod on saxophone with some great melody guitar work, giving one the impression of the most relaxed zombie apocalypse in history. Then we get into a piece that was just made for smooth grooves with “Vampire Roadshow”, covering the Marble Gallery from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night by Michiru Yamane that has some very interesting and fun aux drum work towards the middle and, again, great sax play. It’s a great bookend of Castlevania tunes, the other being “Demonic Rainforest” that covers Mad Forest from Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse that I reiterate was simply made for The One Ups to cover. Sandwiched between these vampire-killing tunes is “Ghouls ‘n Ghosts ‘n Goblins ‘n Gypsies” that covers the iconic first level of the ‘Ghosts games and has some very folksie violin work, playing back and forth between melody and dissonance nicely. The bass work on this song in particular I thought was some of the most notable of the album.

“Labyrinthos” comes from the dungeon theme of The Legend of Zelda, and again it brings to mind not the dark and monster-filled caverns where you’re fighting for your life, but something more akin to a low-light waiting room whilst you sit, reading the latest issue of The Hyrule Times and waiting to be seen by Dr. Bad Guy. Returning is some very singular vibraphone work that lulls you into an almost uneasy calm. “The Hardest Duck in Show Business” is a cover of the Transylvania level from the NES Ducktales game by Hiroshige Tonomura, and may I say how refreshing it is to have something that’s not the Moon Theme being done? That in and of itself should intrigue you, but some more great saxophone melody and guitar playing should be a welcome plus also. There’s a fun energy in the tune that stands out in the album meant to more or less be spooky-themed. Zombies Ate My Neighbors gets some love from “La Noche de los Muertos”. Again, I didn’t have the pleasure of ever playing this game so my basis of reference is limited, but the tone change to a more latin-style flavor adds some nice variety. Finishing up the album is “Blood-Splattered Rose”, which is one of my favorites of the album. Covering the ending theme by K. Tajima of the original Splatterhouse game, the intro going from “Kiss by a Rose” by Seal into the game music is a nice, if a bit odd, twist that threw me a bit the first time. Turning the theme from a very simple, somber tune into a sort of  subtle power ballad was something I personally loved.

If I missed any credits as to the massive amount of guest musicians on the album, my apologies. There were a bunch of you but I give you all kudos!

Edit: I asked the band, and the following were additional guests on the album:

Adams Collins
Anthony Lofton
Nathan McLeod
Ryan Cockerham
Garrett Jones
Hannah Baxter
Fernando Valencia

Songs for the Recently Deceased is a fun album I was kind of taken surprise by, and pleasantly so. With the amount of horror and eerie games within the history of gaming to pull from, it’s always nice to have something special for the season come out and pay homage, and The One Ups did that nicely this year.

The album has a physical release coming in the near future according to the band so keep an eye on their website and social media for announcements, but until then can be grabbed in digital format in several locations.



Google Play

Amazon MP3

Go grab the album and have a Groovy Halloween!

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