Thursday, August 25, 2016

Megadriver - Gaming Hell (2016)

The first of three full-length releases from the Brazilian VG Metal stalwarts, this compilation features a lot of material that differs heavily from their Genesis/Megadrive roots, as well as their 8-16 bit roots. There are still some classics to be found, but some of the stuff I found completely uninspiring and not at all memorable. “The Way Of The Assassin” features the band's frontman on vocals, and the guy has not improved any. It's a chore to get through and still makes me wonder as to why these guys have a singer at all. It's absolutely pointless for them. His tone is like an out of range Rob Halford and it's not pleasing to listen to. Most of you will probably skip that one right out. Then we get to “Revolution” which is also an Assassin's Creed track. I've never heard this one before, and am not sure if the original was done with guitar. It is however, one of the stronger tracks. We get a medicore cover of “Sons Of Liberty” from Metal Gear Solid 2, as well as the title theme for GTA Vice City. But then we get a real classic, which is “Streets Of Desolation” from Konami Batman (because that's just what it's called.) I'm thankful that the tune is faithful to the original and doesn't feature any clean vocal pieces from their frontman about Batman fighting the Joker. I'd have stabbed myself in the stomach and bled to death right then and there. I'll also add that this one has a nice solo on the end of it (not in the original, obviously.) Next, we have “Gank-Plank Galleon” from the original Donkey Kong Country. There was more of a funk and groove to the original when it kicked up to add guitars, but this rendition seems to carry more chug with it. After that, we get “Fire” which is actually from both the Ninja Turtles II Arcade cabinet (which you can play on your damn phone these days) as well as the NES port. It's quite close to the original and was one of the tracks that got me into heavier music, along with Konami Batman's “Streets Of Desolation” of course. Keep in mind, I was seven. I had no idea who Slayer or Metallica were. But I knew that I liked the sound of emulated guitars and wanted to hear real ones. Now here I am at thirty-one years of age, hearing more real guitars than I'd ever imagined.

The next one is “Wings Of Liberty” from Starcraft II, which is a game I've never so much as booted up. The next track we have actually has a funny story behind it. Here, it is called “Maximum Carnage.” But those of you who know your metal and rock history might remember the song's original title, “Carnage Rules” performed by Green Jelly. I've loved this song for years and have been chomping at the bit to do a vocal cover of the piece with more of a sinster and black metal edge – kind of like if Carnage himself had sung it. I also think that it's one of the heaviest punk songs I've heard, it has a ton of bite and remains on my playlist to this very day. I jam the shit out of that song and have for years. And yes, the lyrics are loosely based on Spider-Man. Now as for Megadriver's version, it is a little peculiar. I think Nino wanted to change the composition a little to sound different from the Green Jelly version and they also added some extra elements to it. It's not bad, but it has nothing on the original Green Jelly cut. After that, we have the worst abomination in the entire VG Metal genre and something I hope that I never hear again for the rest of my life.

Those of you who remember Valve's first Portal title might remember the little song “Still Alive” at the end. Well, these guys decided to give us a traditional metal version of the cut which is terrible. It has a one-star rating here on my WMP list and it will stay that way. This is just... cancer. I'll pretend that this one doesn't exist. Next we have “Get To The Choppa” from Tiger Heli and man, is it ever a welcome change of pace. After that we have “Area 7” from Blaster Master, and I've never gotten that far. It's a pretty traditional rendition and stands on it's own. Next we have “Warriors Of Metal” (almost to the end here, folks) which comes across as a very clean composition. It's definitely one of the stronger cuts on the record and fills with some very potent nodes in areas. Then we have “Brazil Stage” from a game called Sonic Wings 2. It's actually quite good, and stands as one of the best compositions on the album, if not the best. Now I'm not sure if that was because the piece itself was well composed, or that they added extra elements – but the end result comes off pretty memorable. Following this, we have another sung vocal piece in the form of “Song Of The Lonely Mountain” from The Hobbit. It's actually not too bad and the frontman manages to hit some pretty decent notes here. As you might expect, the track is a mixture of folk and power/thrash.

Finally, we have something a bit “interesting” for me to talk about, as I know this piece very well. Extremely well. I've put my own vocals on it and you can listen to the track right on my YouTube channel, except it'll be buried under gameplay videos. I recorded the cut for my solo record back in 2010 Black Therapy, and it was essentially done as both a hobby project and a way to get the word out about the bands that performed many of the instrumentals I used. Note the version of the track that I recorded my vocals to is a much lower quality version than this one, but comparing “El Origen De La Oscuridad” to “Into The Sea” leaves me with the feeling that I completely obliterated this guy. You can listen to both cuts back to back and let me know what you think. My version is a bit more chorus-heavy and possibly a bit darker than the one Megadriver did here, but they went for a more traditonal sound and style. It's a shame, because these guys did perform some much heavier material, like “Grim Lord Of The Mound” which was a sort of factor in how I got my title and named this place. It all started with an inside joke started from a demo instrumental I did to that cut and showed to a local guitarist I knew. The name “Grim Lord” stuck after that, and hence; the Tower. So I have a lot of respect to these guys, GWAR (which inspired the silly lyrics I was doing on that cut) and the guitarist I knew for helping to bring all of this to form. That being said, Gaming Hell is probably the worst of the three releases in this set, even though there are some strong and rather exceptional pieces to be found here and I certainly won't deny that.

(16 Tracks, 53:00)


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