ReMix: Mega Man Zero 2 'Never Stop'
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With an intro that sounds like a blend of Led Zep's 'Kashmir' & some heavy metal James Bond action, this screamin' (literally AND figuratively) vocal metal arrangement of MMZ2 from Cyril is, first and foremost, intense. Connor made his vocal debut on OCR back in 2011 on a dark & tortured Sonic the Hedgehog 'Finality' collab w/ JH, and this solo mix explores similarly emotive territory, albeit with a little more shreddage. For the original submission, he writes:
"This mix may seem conservative, especially since the intro is almost verbatim to the source, but I change it up more noticeably as the song continues. Around :50 I change the beat around which that riff is built. I added a little repeating line that kept the song from stagnating, and I change up the vocal melody each time with different octaves and trills and other such things in the verses. 2:32 on is a very interpretive bridge, with the guitar solo switching meters for some fun. The final chorus also changes up the rhythms significantly."
Judges were digging the creativity & approach for the first version, but wanted Connor to polish it up & tighten the vocals a bit, and this new version is definitely an improvement. He adds:
"I took some time and tried to see if I could better myself. Additionally I re-recorded the rhythm guitars to a more natural tone in my opinion. Mastered more loudly than the previous one with the vocals more present, though I didn't try to win any loudness wars here. This was the product of me getting rejected and wanting to show you I could come back and make something 100% better. If you remember the old version, this should rustle your jimmies in the best of ways."
To me, the highlight of this mix is the "over and over" chorus, which is really nicely doubled/harmonized - this is the section that has the most interesting cadence and also highlights the artist's voice most effectively. Some of the solo vocal portions work better than others; it's an insanely demanding vocal part, basically balls-to-the-wall metal singing, and while there are definitely moments that waver a bit, when Connor hits that scream at 3'11" and it sustains over the aforementioned chorus, well... that's some pretty hot shit, in my opinion. A loooong time ago, back in 2003, we posted some mixes by Jason Brian Merrill, aka silent, and then we never heard from him again. While there were some production issues with his tracks, there was also a certain fearlessness to his vocal approach, and I particularly liked his Ninja Gaiden II ReMix for its original lyrics as well. I feel like with this mix and his previous Sonic vocal, Connor's almost picking that torch back up a bit, and while doing vocals of this nature is not only hella difficult but also alienates certain listeners, I think it's something unique that OCR has been missing for a good long while. OA sums it up:
"Connor's strong point has always been his passion, and I think the control is starting to get there. Some of the more subdued sections felt not as in control, but the improvement was definitely there on hitting the right note and holding i. The sections where he cranked it up to 11 were great, and the Dickinson style falsettos were pretty solid. I even heard some pretty passable Anselmo phrases in there too, and the harmony rich sections were very compelling. The wide variety of styles vocally make this really fun to listen to, and I really encourage you to further push yourself vocally; there is still a good deal of untapped potential, which is a pretty exciting prospect. The references to several eras of metal vocal history is pretty awesome to me from a fan, and while I don't think most people will 'get it', I appreciate the thought put into it. Pretty excellent upgrade over the previous track; which I really enjoyed. It's not polished to a mirror shine, but it's got a lot of heart, and what is being attempted is pretty damn difficult."
Truth; there are plenty of moments of brilliance in this mix, and I was digging it, so for my money, Connor should keep doin' what he's doin' - I see room for improvement, but I also see some epic, kickass music!!