Thursday, 12 April 2012

Mac at PAX East: Metroid Metal ~ Varia Suite

     In today's Mac at PAX East, I take a look at an awesome Metroid cover band. So grab your Energy Tanks and throw up the horns for Metroid Metal.

     The moment you put in the Metroid Metal CD, you are in for a real treat. Mixing the classic metal line up with Kenji Yamamoto's and Minako Hamano's music sounds like a recipe for disaster. Well it is not. What happens when you mix the two is a gorgeous album. It is a heart pounding, pulse racing affair and afterwards, you will be wanting more.

     The way the songs flow into one another is so near flawless that it is difficult to discern when one song ends and one starts. This is not a bad thing. In fact I think this is one of the albums strengths. Much like the Lord of the Rings Soundtrack, the fact it flows so well from one song to another with no gap in between. That is the mark of a good album. While a couple second gap doesn't seem like a lot, it can easily break the mood that the album has been trying to set.

     It's time I started talking about the band itself. On the guitars there is Grant Henry (Stemage), Dan Behrens (danimal/armcannon), Michael Molnar (Kirby Pufocia). On the Bass there is the talented Dan Taylor (chunkstyle) and on drums is Kevin Lawrence (Cheddar). You notice something missing? A lyricist. Well, unlike The Protomen, they are in no need of a lyricist. Once again, this is not a mark against either band as they have their own unique sound. The Protmen have crafted a Rock Opera using the original Megaman universe as its backdrop while Metroid Metal have made metal covers, which again is not a bad thing. Both bands have their own unique touch and it is not fair to compare the bands to each other.

     Now it is time I talk about the actual songs on the disk. As I said before the songs are fantastic but there are a few that stick out as something special. I will not be covering all the songs on the track, just the ones I think really sell this album.

     Starting with the third song on the LP, Lower Norfair is bombastic tune that in parts feel very much like a military theme. The way the guitars are played during the chorus allow me to visualize the start of a military conflict on some distant world. It is a great tune to listen to.

     While I said early that the lack of lyrics does not hamper the album and I still stand by that, I feel that the song could benefit from something said. But again it depends on how it could be pursued. Would it be more orchestrated like how the Protomen would perform, or would be more thrash and screaming. When adding lyrics, what do you add. Therein lies the question because as easily as good lyrics can add to a song, terrible lyrics can outright ruin the song.

     But I digress.

     Following Lower Norfair, both on the CD and on the list is the classic Brinstar theme. Taking the original NES chip-tune, they upped it with strong solo's and a constant drum line. Whereas Lower Norfair felt like a military march, Brinstar feels like an adventurers theme. The guitars, when they play together, mesh very well.

     The next song on this list is track number 5. Taking the 20 second Item Collect, they turned it into a somewhat more softer and somber tune. Even if it for less then a minute, it allows us to catch our collective breaths and allow us to prepare for the next onslaught of metal.

     Phendrana Drifts is the first cover we see from Metroid Prime. When Retro Studios announced they were making the next Metroid Game and not Nintendo, I admit I was a bit worried. Not including Super Smash Brothers, it had been almost a decade since we had last seen the bounty hunter. Another fear was that they had put the game into the first perspective which had gamers up in arms. Metroid is a sidescroller, not an FPS. But when the game was released, it received critical acclaim.

     What does this have to do with the music? Well, even growing up, when it came to music in my games I was a bit of a snob. However with Kenji Yamamoto assisting Kouichi Kyuma on the music side, I was put at ease. The remixes from Metroids past as well as well as new songs really sold me on this game.

     But that is for another article. Right now I want to talk about what the group did to Phendrana Cliffs. Like the landscape, they made the song feels cold and desolate. But there is a certain familiarity to it. The song itself obviously styles itself after the 80's romantic rock songs. I don't mean soft rock, but rock songs that had an actual romantic edge to it. A sense of comfort and love. The song wraps you up and wants to protect you from the harshness from outside.

     The Tunnel is the tenth track on the LP and the first Metroid 2 song to be covered. Taking the 8 bit tune and giving it a metal sheen is a nice touch. Dare I say this song is fun. This is a song I find myself playing the air guitar to on a regular basis. Yes I am that geek you find in the music session thinking he is the next rock-star. But with this song, It makes me feel I am onstage as a guitar hero playing in some rock band. I think it is safe to say that The Tunnel is my favourite track from this LP.

     If you are a fan of metal and video game music, grab this album. If you are a fan of Metroid, this is a must have. With solid guitar work, a great bass and drumline, this song is worth it. You can find their album for sale at their site or you can sample their stuff on the bandcamp site at

     Saturday, I put away the glam and pyrotechnics and get dressed up because we are going to the Orchestra. This is Daimo Mac and I am lost in the music.

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