ReMix: Metal Slug 2: Super Vehicle-001/II "No Need to Reload"
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Back from Philadelphia and Video Games Live, which exceeded expectations and kicked generally large amounts of posterior. After picking up pixietricks in Baltimore, we drove up to zircon's dorm at Drexel, then left for Dave and Buster's, where the VGL after party for Wizard World was happenin', and hung out with Tommy Tallarico and company. Tommy really knows his stuff when it comes to game music and its history, and he's also a listener of OC ReMix, so the next day we managed to sneak backstage with the assistance of Paul, Paul, and Asif, who are working on a Video Game Music Documentary and were filming the event, and interviewed Tommy. We also got interviews with Michael Salvatori (Halo), Gerard Marino (God of War), Jack Wall (Myst 3/4, Jade Empire), Marcus Henderson (Guitar Hero I & II) and Martin Leung (videogamepianist.com) - the whole thing is available in an 87-minute long podcast extravaganza at OC ReMix's official podcast, VGDJ. It was quite the ego rush for yours truly, as I managed to end up on the meet and greet panel, signing posters and programs alongside of Marcus and Michael - about one in five people knew what OCR was, and the rest have hopefully checked out the site since then. Afterwards we chilled and interviewed, and the general atmosphere was just really laid-back - we were sitting on the floor in the lobby of the Doubletree hotel eating pizza with some of these guys. While their talent is equal to that of the best Hollywood film composers, their egos are not, and things were overall just really groovy. I'd like to thank Marcus, Jason Hayes (who had to get up early next morning and thus couldn't do an interview), Michael, Gerard, Jack, Martin, Paul, Paul, Asif, Becky (www.gamemusicradio.com), Andy, Jill, everyone else I might be forgetting, but most of all Tommy, who's not only a badass composer, Yankees fan, and Mustang owner, but also manages to find time in there to be a really cool, friendly guy. Video Games Live is highly recommended - if you go and you've got one, be sure to wear your OC ReMix T-shirt, and say hello to Tommy for us.
Ahh, back to reality. One of the coolest things about Chuen jik sat sau, besides Andy Lau as a psychotic assassin, is that at one point during a conversation they start talking about Metal Slug. Anyone that's played SNK's series of over-the-top 2D mechanized side-scrolling genius is "in the know" when it comes to these games' amazingly intricate artwork and animation and clever situational combat, and anyone that hasn't... should. A testament to the two-dimensional heavy-lifting capabilities of the Neo-Geo, the Metal Slug games constitute legitimate, inarguable modern classics. Thank goodness, then, that - courtesy of RoeTaKa - we finally have an MS mix here at OCR. The ReMixer writes:
"The mix is guitar focused, hard hitting and constantly varies to play around the idea. From hard rock to slipping into some funk based ground, with slap bass solos and mad drumming. Basically just good fun, and fun listening. I've been playing around with guitar ideas for a while, and wanted this to be a piece to show what I could do with fake guitars. I've dipped into some metal ideas, mostly with some of the drumming and bass, but kept it as energetic as possible. The synth work is just a layer of icing on the cake, to keep a unique feel about it, along with the second phased drum kit. This was great fun to work on in the end, I wish I could've made it longer, but I feel it does enough for its time. I hope Metal Slug fans can think fondly of it too. The games are a great series and really need more coverage."
To be honest, the aggressive, even abrasive introduction initially turned me off to this mix in a big way. It took a second listen to shake my first impression and appreciate what Roe's done here; a battery of edgy guitar textures, rolling rock drums, and well-integrated synth round out the arsenal, with a volley of percussive ticks and trips for rhythmic potency. Though some felt a threshold was crossed in terms of volume and clarity, JJT summed up the majority:
"For some reason this put me in mind of the kind of synthetic music that would be played at one of those cyberpunk bars in Shadowrun. That's kind of an aside though. The guitars are cheesy, but I find them almost charming. Kind of like a hat you'd get at some gift shop that's so obnoxious that you grow really attached to it. Is this making sense? Am I making too many iffy analogies here? Anyway. The overall package that Roe presents just works for me. That's some really good drum and bass programming, son."
As a fan of the series, I can at least throw my two cents in and mention that I spent some time listening to the first and second OSTs and my general take was that they'd be very difficult to arrange; this is challenging source material to interpret, in my estimation. Ultimately, though, if you're a fan of more rough-and-tumble production and aggressive combinations of guitar, acoustic and electric drums, and synth, some of the judges' concerns won't bug you as much. After all, if you're trying to take on an entire army with a handgun, a partner (if you're lucky), and a boatload of grit, you're probably not gonna be listening to slickly-produced trance. Different, risky stuff from RoeTaKa that covers some long overdue source material with surplus energy.
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