MDb Review : Harmony of a Hunter 101% Run : By CapCom


Editor: Darren Kerwin
Label: Shinesparkers
Item #: N/A
Price: FREE US
Release Date: November 17, 2012

Track Listing:

Disc One

1 Primoris (Stephan Wells, Erik Scerri)
2 Altar of Aether (Laura Intravia, Jared Cowing & Choir)
3 Depths of Phendrana (Buoy feat. Stephan Wells)
4 Gario (Eldrich Spore Spawn)
5 Entropic Dream (Pyro Paper Planes feat. Laura Intravia)
6 Beyond the Glass (Sam Dillard)
7 Unauthorised Access (Erik McClure)
8 Alluring Darkness (Stephan Wells feat. Buoy)
9 Sanctuary Sentinel (Samuel Lidstrom)
10 The Unnamed Frontier (Pyro Paper Planes feat. VikingGuitar)
11 Unfinished Business (Luis A. Flores)
12 Gravity (Theophany)
13 Entering the Hive (Jared Cowing feat. Laura Intravia)
14 Dreams of Steel (Jack of Bass feat. Maciej Markiewicz)
15 The Lady Returns (Emperor Charlemagne)
16 Aquatic Lullaby (Sebastian Martensson)
17 Lacrodectus (Dare to Oppress)

Disc Two

1 Doppelganger (Vomitron)
2 The Calm Before the Fire (Sean Haeberman)
3 Slipstream (Pyro Paper Planes)
4 Remembering Who I Am (Mercury Adept)
5 Guardians of Old (Stephan Wells feat. Buoy)
6 Omega Fallen (Nick Perrin)
7 Automation (Mesmonium)
8 In the Bowels of Norfair (George R. Powell)
9 Where to from Here (Cursed Lemon feat. Stephan Wells)
10 A Familiar Path (Sean Haeberman)
11 Incoming Kraid (Mozzaratti)
12 Torvus Chips (Mazedude)
13 The Depths of Tallon IV (Slimane Dellaoui)
14 Old Friend, New Foe (Sebastian Martensson feat. Pontus Lunden)
15 Te Inveniam (Chris Apple)

Disc Three

1 Samus Voyage (HiScore) 2 Metroid Medley 2 (Derris-Kharlan) 3 Seeking Light (Martin Leung) 4 Harmony of a Hunter 101% Run Teaser Music (Mozzaratti) 5 Item Acquisition Fanfare (Stephan Wells) 6 Item Room / Item Acquisition Fanfare (Zack Parrish) 7 Only Human (Sebastian Martensson)

Harmony of a Hunter 101% Run comes as the sequel to last year's 25th anniversary tribute to the series and releases just in time to celebrate 10 years of Metroid Prime. While the original HoaH was a labor of love, 101% Run is even moreso. Darren Kerwin and co. have learned a great deal since last year, and it shows through the selection and arrangement as well as the high-profile names on the tracklist. In fact, the quality of the work outshines HoaH's by such a degree that I would say it's more like a 202% Run!

Nothing illustrates 101% Run's tribute to Prime more than the opening piece, “Primoris”, with Terminator-esque martial drums and sweeping strings, along with the series' trademark whistle. This is how we'd always imagined the game would sound.

Of course, the album covers music from all the games and is packed with much anticipated mixes. Sam Dillard, one of the stars of HoaH, returns with “Beyond the Glass”, a hunting remix of both Maridia themes. Without any SFX, he perfectly replicates the noise of a Power Bomb shattering the glass tube to Maridia, then follows with a driving deep-sea chords that drift behind a chilling choir. Vomitron also returns from a near 10-year hiatus from game arranges with “Doppelganger”, skull-splitting industrial metal blast that channels Dark Samus's ichor-black malice.

But perhaps the most amazing track on 101% Run is “Te Inveniam” (from the Latin “I will find you”), the 10 minute Tourian epic by Video Games Live! veteran Chris Apple. Professionally recorded with talented vocalists, Apple takes us through the depths of Mother Brain's lair in a videogame rock opera rivaled only by Final Fantasy VII's “One Winged Angel”. Be sure to bring a clean pair of shorts, as you may have to change when it's over!

One other thing the 101% Run does very well is focus on obscure tracks that would otherwise never have been covered. These include such pieces as “Altar of Aether” (arranging “Temple Grounds” from Prime 2, complete with a live choir), “Where to from Here?” (Metroid Prime Trilogy's menu theme), and the ambient “Dreams of Steel” (“Multiplayer ~ Alinos” from Hunters). There is also “Sanctuary Sentinel”, Samuel Lindstrom's groovy electronic rock tribute to mechanoid titan Quadraxis; Theophany's “Gravity”, the incomprable sweeping arrange of Nightmare's might and mystery named simply “Gravity”; and Sean Haeberman's “The Calm Before the Fire”, whose ominous brass and choir breathe flame and ash through the searing heat of Super Metroid's Norfair. George R. Powell's equally impressive “In the Bowels of Norfair” conjures images of swelling oceans of bubbling lava, a sound you'd never have imagined from the original NES version.

After hearing dozens of arranges of “Brinstar” over the years, it is truly refreshing to hear some of the more overlooked – but still fantastic – pieces getting their due. Aside from the above highlights, my favorite of these has to be “Guardians of Old”, an enchanting ethnic arrange of the Luminoth themes from Echoes. Here, we see the Luminoth at the height of their empire, with a beckoning flute and driving acoustic guitar. Their themes were central to the game, and Stephen Wells and Buoy have finally done the songs justice.

While the first two discs contain the meat of the album, the third disc holds a series of bonus tracks, mostly epic medleys. HiScore debuts “Samus Voyage”, which highlights one track from every single Metroid game (including Hunters and Pinball!). Derris-Karlan returns with a chiptune medley of highlights from the album, and Martin Leung (aka the Video Game Pianist) makes a special appearance with “Seeking Light”. There is also an ambient Item Room theme by Zack Parrish. The biggest surprise, however, is “Only Human” by Sebastian Martensson, an original ballad inspired by the Metroid series akin to Earthworm Jim's “Invertebrate Retreat”. Hit or miss, you can clearly see Martensson's passion in his singing. It's a great way to end the album.

With 39 tracks total, it is simply impossible to cover every single piece in detail in a review. Thankfully, there really aren't too many soft spots. While I was a little disappointed with the Metroid II arranges, they are still fairly good pieces, and are well-placed in the tracklist. I guess my only real complaint is there's no ending track to counterbalance “Te Inveniam”(however, one could easily take Sam Dillard's “Mission Complete Ending Suite” and add it on at the end).

If you compare 101% Run with HoaH, while there were some absolutely outstanding pieces (“Into the Green World” being the best Brinstar mix ever!), a year later, I find I honestly don't listen to more than five or six tracks from it. However, I can 101% Run being a staple in my car's CD player for years to come. Although many of HoaH's tracks have a strong composition, most use experimental styles that don't quite fit in the Metroid universe. For instance, “Cave Dweller” is a weird Egyptian dubstep, but you don't really picture Ridley next to the Pyramids. This is the kind of mash-up that OverClocked ReMix is known for, but it's something you either like or you don't. And that can be problematic if you're a fan of the style of the original music (which, assuming you're here, you are!).

101% Run doesn't have this problem. It may be less experimental, but every single track fits. While “Slipstream” is trance, it makes sense because “Vs. Serris, Yakuza” is in a similar style. Chiptunes like “Lacrodectus” and “Torvus Chips” also work because the originals have the essence of chip in them (not to mention the series started on the NES and Game Boy). And what's more, there is still that range of styles, and nearly every composition is absolutely solid.

In all, Harmony of a Hunter 101% Run is by far the best Metroid album out there with its scope and attention to the overlooked. In fact, it holds itself high over nearly every fan arrange album I've encountered, which is quite an achievement. And unlike some fan works that have gotten a lot of press lately, 101% Run is absolutely free. The fact that composers of such talent poured blood, sweat, and tears to give 101% Run to Metroid fans and music lovers everywhere speaks volumes about the devotion of the series' fans as well as the quality of the source material. Most highly recommended.

Score: 101%/100