Friday, February 15, 2013
Spotlight: Megaman X - Maverick Rising (5 Disc Free Album Collection)
Various Artists - Megaman X: Maverick Rising (2012)
Genre: Metal, Metalcore Rock, Progressive Rock, Electronic, Industrial, Ska, Synth-rock, Jazz, Experimental, Other (Mostly Instrumental)
Cyril The Wolf
Dominic Ninmark (Also Designed The Artwork)
The Dual Dragons
The Overclocked Plaid Muffins
Let me just start this off with a few words. If it wasn't for the Megaman X series, I might have never gotten into metal music. For some of you, that might come as a shock, but for me it's the truth. When I was young, I used to play the living hell out Megaman X1 then X2 and finally X3. I used to play X2 religiously and still consider it one of my favorite games of all time. (For those wondering what this is all about, click here.)
Why? That fucking soundtrack. Even though it was 16 bit synth, you could tell that those were supposed to be fucking guitar riffs. And when the games progressed into the 32 bit age, those guitars actually became pronounced. Take X5's X vs. Zero battle. That's pounding synth metal if I've ever heard it, and the remixer for this track decided to make it full on metal, succeeding immensely and making the best cover I've ever heard of this track.
X8 came along and the whole damned soundtrack was guitar laden. Damn near it, at any rate. Downloaded the soundtrack when I was younger just to hear the actual rock metal influence as played by a live band. Still own the game. You couldn't pay me to hand it over.
At any rate, the Megaman X series had been largeley neglected (even VG Metal bands like Powerglove wouldn't cover the Zero theme, no matter how many requests flooded the site and they butchered Blast Hornet's theme, leaving me disheartened.) with most bands opting to cover the classic Megaman themes in metal/rock. This is fine and dandy, but the metal influence was cast aside completely in most cases.
Fast forward to 2012's Megaman X: Maverick Rising Project. You heard me right, 4 discs of music at over 60 tracks (with 4 bonus tracks on a bonus disc) at four and a half hours of music. Now some of you might think, "well, it's not really a heavy album" but you haven't heard the metal mixes on this one. Some are not perfect, but some are. Oh fuck yes, some are. Sixto Sounds covered the final fight with Lumine in blisteringly fast metal, and some mixers don't mind just shredding the living fuck out of these tracks. Yes, I said "shredding the living fuck out of these tracks."
Best of all, it's free. Yes, there are some electronic mixes here - but you'll also hear some tasteful prog rock excursions like the track from Monobrow, a cover of Bubble Crab's theme. Some of the drums are programmed, some of the guitars are programmed, but if anything else - they're done well. But there are also plenty of live musicians here and even some vocals in areas. I must admit that the Killswitch (Engage) influence on the Gravity Beetle theme wasn't perfect, but it was interesting.
To get more information on the album and the artists, click this link: http://maverick.ocremix.org/artists.php
It also includes the link for the 2.83 Gb torrent for the album, or just the MP3's at 500 Mb. The download comes with some backgrounds (hit or miss, nothing custom) the album art (which includes printable images to put directly on the CD's and these are hand drawn and rather well, I might add) a readme text file about the project and a another text file which reviews every track and includes the commentary from each artist. Yes, each artist/band talks a little about the track that they composed for the project. It's a long read, but recommended as you'll get a taste for what each artist was going for.
As far as reviews go, this is four and a half hours of music that would be damn near impossible to review in a normal manner, so I will simply say that out the sixty four tracks featurd here, I gave thirty of them a five star mark, meaning that the track was done either very well, or that it was quite unique and surprising. I gave about 10-20 of these my four star rating, but all of the others were simply a two or three in most cases. I don't think there was anything particularly terrible, but the vocals could use some work in some areas and there was an amateur attempt or two. But at any rate, some of these artists were out of their confort zone and explained as such in their commentary. Some of these artists were also guilty of using the "shredder" program which uses real guitar melodies and incorporates them in a programmable fashion. Whoever designed this thing is quite genious, as I literally cannot tell the difference at times. But nevertheless, what you are getting does in fact feature live musicians and the majority of the work here does do the X soundtrack justice, at least in my eyes; and I'm a tough bastard to please when it come to Megaman X music. The sheer fact that some of this music actually had me banging my head or humming along with the themes has to account for something. There are also some rather dancy tracks here as the series did incorporate electronics. You'll also hear the occasional voice clip. But at any rate, I'm quite impressed with the musicianship on this thing and I really have to again point out Sixto Sounds and Metal Man's contribution to the disc "10 Minutes Of Hypothermia" in which he literally covered the title, select, boss introduction, stage music, upgrade music, boss intro, boss battle, defeat (down to the exact sounds of explosion) and the weapon select while paying homage to former Dream Theater keyboardist, Jordan Rudess. This track is the musical equivalent of playing the game and took an unprecedented amount of work. Expect a few jazzy tracks and a few obscure takes here and there as well, but definitely look at these as art and you'll understand the focus. Not everything is an exact duplicate of the source, nor was it meant to be.
Lastly, here's a trailer so that you can see what you're in for: