Tales from Bandcamp: Shovel Knight Soundtrack by Jake Kaufman


a3801413220_10Ok, something completely different for y’all with this one.  As many of you know, I have love for video games just as big as my love for metal, with a special soft spot for the NES/SNES heyday of gaming glory.  I have an even softer spot for Mega Man.  Between the rock solid running, jumping, and shooting, beautiful art style and character design, and outstanding music, the only old school series that I herald higher than Mega Man is The Legend of Zelda.  So, ya, I love me some Mega Man.  Unfortunately, those bastards at Capcom teased me with a full on retro Mega Man revival with the kick ass Mega Man 9 and 10 they released some years ago and then pulled out from making more since they are bastards (the games sold wonderfully too, don’t know wtf they were thinking). 

Anyhoo, before I get ahead of myself, a couple of months ago a game called Shovel Knight was released on PC, 3DS, and WiiU.  It’s basically an homage to the glory days of retro-gaming with a lot of modern twists and pulls a lot of inspiration from the Mega Man series, especially in character design, graphical aesthetic, and above all the music.  Mega Man pretty much has some of the best tunes of any game out there with their chip tune power metal punch.  So, given the love Shovel Knight for the Mega Man series, to be a respectable homage to the Blue Bomber, the dev. team would have to find someone to craft one hell of a soundtrack.  They found Jake Kaufman, and let me tell you he went above and beyond the call of duty.  When a chip tune soundtrack is just as good out of game than in, you got yourself something special.  This soundtrack ranks up there with the all time greats including The Legend of Zelda, Castlevania, Final Fantasy, and Super Mario Bros.  Tons of catchy melodies, driving rhythms, and cheesy 8-bit goodness.

If you happen to be one of the few other people out there that actually enjoy some good chip tune music, this is a must have record.  Even cooler, Jake did a second record with reinterpretations of the scores that is just as good.  So, go play Shovel Knight (which is riding high as my Game of the Year so far) and download the soundtrack and reinterpretation album.  Both are pay what you want, but tossing the artist the change between your cushions for their work instead of taking the record for free would be a cool thing to do.  Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!

Song of the Week: Transcend The Realm – Plurality of Worlds


As you all know, being the genre experts we all are, if you combine progressive metal, death metal and ‘core, you get progressive deathcore. When it’s done this well it goes beyond that tag and fits into my favourite genre, Mammal Music. Welcome to the top drawer of my mental filing cabinet, Transcend The Realm.

The structure of this song is deeply satisfying, from the repeated arpeggios at the beginning, through the intense and beautifully brutal growled vocals and back to the arpeggios at the end. In my never humble opinion, this song reflects an artful approach to composition. Transcend The Realm blows your socks off, but does so with enough musical sensitivity to make it feel like a soothing foot-massage.

The song is from the band’s newly released full-length debut album, “Severed From Reality”. Now this is an album I need, and so does Tiny Tiny Cakey Kitten, the real metal expert in my office.

Meet the band on their Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/transcendtherealm/timeline

 

Roundtable album review: Aeon Zen – Ephemera


Aeon Zen CoverLabel: Nightmare Records

Release Date: 1 September 2014

Songs: 9

Length: 42 minutes

Genre: Progressive Metal

Studio Albums: 3 full-length + 1 EP

Location: UK

 

 

 

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Mammal’s 21-Year Hit Parade: 2001 / #8 – #7


MetalCatIt’s a dark, moonless night in my home territory of Zululand tonight. It’s a perfect setting for two different kinds of black metal in this installment of my hit parade.

Dark Metal Cat thinks I can’t see him when he prowls through the garden on nights like this. Ha! All I have to do is follow the lead from his guitar.

 

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Know your enemy: Auto-Tune


auto-tune-poster

Thus far, metal has remained largely immune to Auto-Tune, the insidious technology that does what this poster says. Auto-Tune is now standard equipment in just about every recording studio. In brief, it is used to turn an off-key note into an in-tune note. As a result, the bands and singers who use Auto-Tune on their recordings sound nothing like they do in live performances… unless they mime their singing to an Auto-Tuned track.

There have been accusations — or maybe they’re just unfounded suspicions — that a couple of metal bands have used the technology to make their albums sound better. That could be very risky since metal fans who know anything about Auto-Tune are united in their hatred of it.

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Mammal’s 21-Year Hit Parade: 2001 / #10 – #9


MetalCatMy opening selections for 2001 unrelentingly show what a musical hybrid I am. I’m grateful the other Metal State writers tolerate me. They probably do so only because of my youthful, boyish charm and my vast wealth.

Number 10 is prog metal but it could fit comfortably in a classic prog rock set. Number 9 is undeniably metal but its opening minute and the string interludes could be classic heavy prog.

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Retro Roundtable Review: Textures – Polars


polars-4f273e55ef3b3Label: Listenable Records

Release Date:  2003

Songs:  8 tracks, 56 minutes

Genre:  Progressive metal

Studio Albums: Drawing Circles 2006, Silhouettes 2008, Dualism 2011

Location:  Tilburg, Netherlands

For fans of: Strapping Young Lad, Cynic, Meshuggah, Dark Tranquillity, Iced Earth, Gojira

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Know your enemy: Dynamic Range Compression


DSC

More and more bands are releasing limited editions of their albums on vinyl. This is not just to meet a demand from the nostalgic who enjoy the physical packaging and feel of an LP more than a CD. These days it is generally true that music sounds better on vinyl than on CD.

It shouldn’t. With the great advances in digital sound technology, a CD or high-quality digital music file should sound identical to the best-quality analog recording on vinyl – to the human ear, anyway.

There’s a big problem with a lot of digital music, though. It’s called Dynamic Range Compression (DRC).

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Johnny Wore Black – A Cut Above (Single)


artworks-000085118344-9q8op4-t200x200On the 28th of March, Johnny Wore Black released their much anticipated debut album, “Walking Underwater Part 1.” It was full of atmospheric elements combined with dark and melancholic vocals soothing to the psyche.  Click here for the review of that album.  Just five months later…that’s now in case you are counting; a new single, ‘A Cut Above’ is upon us in preparation for, as you might have guessed…”Walking Underwater Part 2.”

While continuing with an atmospheric and emotive style, ‘A Cut Above’ is more upbeat lending itself to more of a hard rock vibe.  If you thought the sophomore album would be a continuation of this year’s earlier release, ‘A Cut Above’ certainly does not intend to let us think that.  The song will also be accompanied by a “new and intriguing video.”  No doubt, it will be interesting to see what is in store for “Walking Underwater Part 2.”  For now, their is no set date for the second installment except that we can expect “later this year” (most likely October) for the new music.  Click here to follow Johnny Wore Black and check out their progress and videos they have already released.  Head over to iTunes to pre-order today!

 

Mammal’s 21-Year Hit Parade: 2000 / #3 – #1


MetalCatIt does happen. The three songs I’ve chosen as my top favourites of 2000 all feature clean singing. I’m not particularly biased towards either dark or clean vocals, although most of the metal I listen to these days does have plenty of growling.

Dark Metal Cat has a growling purr and a clean sandbox.

 

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