MDb Review : Metroid Arrange 25th Anniversary Album : By CapCom

Metrodi Arrange 25th Anniversary Album

Artist: Bad Dudes
Label: Bandcamp
Item #: N/A
Price: $9.99 (Digital), $13.99 (CD)
Release Date: December 20, 2011

Track Listing:

1 Time Sheehy - The Theme [Metroid - Title BGM]
2 Ailsean - Super Funktroid [Theme of SUPER METROID]
3 Mazedude - Grand Metroid Island [Metroid Prime - Menu Select]
4 Mustin - KR444441D [Metroid - Small Boss Room (I) ~ Kraid]
5 DiggiDis - Spikes are Everywhere [Super Metroid - Brinstar - Red Soil Wetland Area]
6 Kunal Majmudar - Phazon Punch [Metroid Prime 2 - Emperor Ing Battle 1]
7 Mazedude - Tallon et Nox [Metroid Prime - Tallon Overworld]
8 zykO - Drifter [Metroid Prime - Ice Valley]
9 Mustin - Singularity [Super Metroid - Maridia - Rocky Underground Water Area]
10 posu yan - the next sunrise [Super Metroid - Brinstar - Plant Overgrowth Area]
11 Mazedude - Dieselbrainage [Super Metroid - Mother Brain]
12 Kunal Majmudar - Credtroids [Metroid II: Return of Samus - Ending]
13 Joshua Morse - In Search of the Last Metroid [Super Metroid Medley]
14 Dhsu - Bubble Tea [Metroid - Norfair (Flame Stage)]
25 Mustin - Like A BOSS! -MEDLEY- (CD Only)

Back in August, the rad game music arrange collective Bad Dudes announced their new album with a splash with some totally sweet comic book art and an advertising blitzkrieg featuring the persona of main man Mustin. It’s been long months waiting, but Metroid Arrange is finally here! And there are two versions of the album: a 15-track CD and the 14-track digital release through Bandcamp, both with a futurist-style Samus standing before a glitchy backdrop recalling the Metroid II: Secret Worlds. The CD also boasts a four-page comic and double-sided poster.

Metroid Arrange opens smoothly with an eerie industrial synth rock of the original Metroid's "Title Theme" by Tim Sheehy - a traditional, yet strong opening. It then transitions into "Super Funktroid", a fantastic arrange of the Super Metroid intro by the incomparable Ailsean of "Bloody Hell" fame, complete with his trademark guitars and stellar drumwork.

Next up is prominent arranger Mazedude, who's excellent "Parasite X" from Harmony of a Hunter carved new territory for Metroid with bizarre electrofunk reminiscent of EarthBound. With two new tracks, "Grand Metroid Island" and "Tallon et Nox," Mazedude is halfway to a solo album. The third Mazedude piece, the industrial "Dieselbrainage", is also excellent, but is already available on OverClocked ReMix's free album, Heroes vs. Villains, which makes me wonder why they’re suddenly charging for it.

Mustin also contributed three tracks. One of these, "Singularity", holds a Yasunori Mitsuda-style piano ala Chrono Trigger, along with some intense drum and bass, but it’s distracted occasionally by electronic warbles and ends abruptly. Mustin’s third piece, "Like A BOSS!", cleverly mixes the seldom-heard Spore Spawn with Metroid Fusion's Zazabi and Golden Chozo Statue boss themes, gangster-style, with a koto thrown in for good measure. This track is found only on the CD, and plays after the album’s true ending, Dhsu's melancholy "Bubble Tea", a piano etude that looks back on the original Metroid's Norfair with nostalgia serves as a nice bookend to "The Theme".

The Bad Dudes throw plenty of spice into the mix, particularly with DiggiDis, whose "Spikes are Everywhere" pulls out of Red Brinstar a jazz piano, dirt, rock, and distortion. The transition to Asian at the 3:00 mark is especially rewarding, emphasizing the pentatonic scale largely obscured in the original. Watch out as well for posu yan's "the next sunrise", a chiptune with some smooth R&B-style lyrics about exploring Super Metroid's Zebes, complete with C64-style arpeggios.

The true crown of Metroid Anniversary, however, is Joshua Morse's 13-minute epic, "In Search of the Last Metroid" (he made a similar mix in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night Resurrection). Morse integrates sound effects of Samus's explorations to give the illusion of an audio novel, as with “Crateria Raining”, but also leaves us with plenty of driving guitar arranges, such as Green Brinstar and "Norfair Ancient Ruins". There's also an excellent guitar arrange of "Space Pirates Appear" and Ridley, complete with alarm, that are kind of a cross between Contra and Metroid (Controid!). Sadly, ends far too suddenly for its length and intensity.

Unfortunately, a few tracks fall flat. zykO's "Drifter" contains little variety, with synth slurs, rumbling bass, and liquid warbles that lacks in dynamics for its nearly seven minutes of length. Kunal Majmudar's anticipated arrange of "Emperor Ing", "Phazon Punch", also runs spartan, with not nearly enough development or variety of instrumentation for my tastes. Majmudar's other piece, "Credtroids", is a fascinating grungy chip arrange of Metroid II's ending theme - a demake of a chiptune! - but unfortunately gets particularly grating around 2:30. Which brings me to some good advice with collaboration albums: follow the artists you enjoy, not necessarily the albums.

Metroid Arrange follows the styles found in OCR, which uses a distinctly American approach to videogame music arranges that strongly embraces games and electronica, privileging digital instrumentation, and often utilizing live instruments for support. But like OCR, the album is a mixed bag, but leaning heavily on the funk side. Basically, if you enjoy most of OCR's material, Metroid Arrange is for you - and thankfully, you can preview it at Bandcamp if you are unsure. But even if it's not your choice, there are a couple of real gems you won't want to pass up and can pick up individually. The CD is limited to 1000 copies, so if you're interested, better grab one before they're gone!