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Liontamer

OCRA-0022 - Heroes vs. Villains (OC ReMix vs. The Bad Dudes)

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Cool concept and fantastic remixes across the album.

My favorites were zyko's "Mr. Z," and zircon and Joshua Morse's "Satsui no Koto."

Generally, I run screaming from VG rap (it's an exaggeration, but it tends to be too hammy for my tastes), but the two Zelda remixes kept me listening, which means a lot.

Lastly, a word of thanks goes out to all the collaborators; amazing job!

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This album coming out alone warranted me joining the forums here... After several years contributing reviews to some friends blogs, I decided recently to start somewhere I could store all my works by themselves. And the first 'original' piece i've done since starting this blog up is this album...

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My mind feels like it’s just blown…

Things start explosively with the mindblowing combination of Samus and Mother Brain’s theme. Whilst Big Giant Circles goes down the great anthemic, albeit traditional, route of pumping up Samus’s theme with rocking guitars, Mazedude gives an incredible drum’n’bass remix to the Mother Brain theme, making excellent use of the unusual time signature. As opening tracks these do an incredible job of thrusting you into the mood for something epic and unlike anything OCRemix has provided before. If I’ve any complaint its that Mazedude’s track doesn’t go on longer, as it ends on a rather abrupt note, leaving me hungry for more…

Who’d have though Audio Fidelity would provide us with a Pirate Rock take on Guybrush Threepwood. The vocals clearly differentiate this track from its predecessors, full of all the melody and excitement of a life on the high seas. This is in stark contrast to Voodo, Roots’n’Grog, where Bad Dudes Diggi Dis responds with a brass heavy arrangement that’s notably more sombre than its predecessor, but none the less merry for it.

After four epic arrangements of classic video game songs, the God of War duet that follows is unusual as both songs I could almost picture as actually coming from the game. Brandon Strader effectively collects together some of the biggest motifs from Kratos’s games and gives us something anthemic and powerful. Kunal Majmudar however opts for a far more manufactured approach with ‘Wrath Industrual’ which sounds as though its being pumped out from the factory floor. Both excellent tracks well worth a listen.

WillRock provides a chiptunes esque take Streets of Rage, capturing the aggressive vibrancy of the original games. With fast, hard working guitars bopping away throughout the song’s main melody struggles to differentiate itself at times but no one familiar with the source will fail to be caught up in the sheer amount of energy on display – again it feels like it almost comes directly from the original game. This energy is reflected in a much more managed, focus way in Zyko’s response, which takes the theme in some very strange directions but is powerful and menacing at the same time.

The next track is called ‘Screw Willy, I’m Taking a Vacation’ and the song is just as shocking as the title. Smooth, jazzy, relaxed this sounds like the 8-bit equivalent of lemonade by the pool… Just as overindulgent as you could hope it to be. There’s evidence here Josua Morse and Mattias Häggström Gerdt must have communicated their ideas because these two tracks, the most relaxed in the album, are extremely well coordinated, the latter taking things in a very similar direction that sounds almost ‘casino-ish’.

bLiND throws a slight curveball three quarters of the way through the next track where things transform from a preppy-guitar driven blinder to a more downbeat dub bass that would sound excellent on speakers better than mine. As if deliberately outmatching it ‘Enter the Shredder’ throws an even greater curveball half way through its own electro/metal romp with a cute vocal sample and a downright ridiculous solo section. Completely mad but something done with this much talent and conviction succeeds on ambition alone. Amazing…

Proving this album’s ambition to go places no vg-remix has gone before, José the Bronx Rican and zyko provide a duet of battle-rap excellence to some of video games oldest themes. Well that’s the spirit of ‘He Ain’t a G’ but ‘Bladewalker’ takes things a little further with some epic soundtracking, giving some traditional fantasy-concept elements to this strange fusion of genres. I’ve no doubt these songs will be divisive but there’s some real talent on display in both.

Another acoustic pair follow and both provide relaxed, ethnic, enjoyable themes that take the time to flesh out the source tunes with style. Both very enjoyable and well deserves respites from the grandstanding of the rest of the album, but by the nature of the songs around to them probably destined to be overlooked.

Insert Rupee is the collaboration of electronic-chiptunesque maestro’s Benjamin Briggs and halc, who have both becomes OCRemix regulars of late, and they bring their best to Kirby’s theme with a demented yet epic beatboxing anthem that has an almost haunting property to it. Mazedude responds with his second track on the album, an all encompassing track that perhaps tries to do slightly too much to stand straight. This jazzy, piano-centric, brass-chiptunes behemoth heaves its way through verses with as much grace as its namesake, but amongst the chaotic fun there’s a real gem here.

The final duet features two Castlevania songs, one by Bad Dudes turncoat Mustin representing OCR, and the other from Ailsean. As the final tracks of one of the most ambitious vgremix album’s I’ve heard to date I was hoping for a little more from ‘The Prodigal Son Returns’ which is a very accomplished, technical, fun piece, but just a little to relaxed for its place on the album. Fortunately ‘A Walk With Death’ corrects this in just a few bars, with a concept piece that draws the listener in on a journey through the horror and out into the other side. Traditional metal guitars, ominous rising chords and an epic chorus… A very classy way to end.

Over twenty songs this album represents a broad spectrum of video games, from the early days right through to the current generation, and it’s clearly been a labour of love for its artists. The styles on display are as varied as the source material and all very accomplished. I’d say it potentially struggles to keep the momentum its first half generates but that would be nigh on impossible after the first few songs…

….

And as this is technically an OCR vs. Bad Dudes album… Whilst both sides have represented themselves fantastically with some very ambitious work I’d say the villains have it… just.

Great album, great site, great music. Keep up the good work.

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I'm not a great reviewer I'm afraid, all I can say is I loved most of the album. Though for me, after reading some of the comments, I feel a little bad because I feel the heroes outright won (if you can compare) vs the villains. The four songs I deleted were the "Dieselbrainage", Enter the Shredder", "Bladewalker", and "Hot Air Penguin". Not all of these games am I familiar with the sources so that affects my judgment a bit.

I thought:

Enter the Shredder was good but...it shredded a bit too much for me and the (on purpose) glitch sounding guitar stuff at the end actually killed it for me.

Bladewalker was nice but the length of it and the way its done, its just something I know I wouldn't play on repeat much if ever again.

And the final two were done by the same guy, Mazedude. I generally like randomness but I couldn't get with it in either of those tracks. Hot Air Penguin did have me going for awhile but I think its the...trumpets? That ended it for me.

But I didn't really have any other issues with the other tracks and I appreciate all the effort that went into all of the songs.

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And that's the best thing about an album like this that encompasses so many different things.

If I was rating the songs in order Dieselbrainage, Enter Shredder and Hot Air Penguin would number 1,2,3 as the best on the album. What I love about the latter most is that I actually get this picture of a giant behemoth literally 'wobbling' around when I listen to it. 8-O

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Round 2 ahoy!!

guybrush.jpg?w=150 VS lechuck.jpg?w=150

Hype Factor: 8/10

The original plan to have OA, audio fidelity, and Abadoss join forces in a mega collab for Guybrush made Diggi Dis seem like the baddest of all the Bad Dudes. If anyone can give Mazeude a run for his money in terms of versatility, it's Diggi Dis. A master of groove, disciple of phat hip hop beats, seducer of the Mamacitas with the Latin guitar...the man is a dangerous Swiss army knife wielding chiptunes, R&B, and a can opener of whoop-ass.

That hype deflated just a tad bit when it turned out that OA and Abadoss had dropped, leaving us all to wonder what audio fidelity had up his sleeves. His body of work is impressive, but I think we were all excited to hear the Monkey Island theme done with a rich array of instrumentation brought by three unique musicians. Needless to say, I think audio fidelity fulfilled that wish and then some by bringing a few other friends on board.

Bonus hype points for remixing Monkey Island and making the roster of games covered just slightly less mainstream and predictable. As much as we all love more Street Fighter and Mega Man coverage, I appreciate that an effort was made to scour the past for forgotten characters and themes, especially two that are beloved as this.

Commentary:

To be honest, I never imagined audio fidelity had an arrangement like this in him. djpretzel says he was sold at the first vocal 55 seconds in...I was sold five seconds in with the lush tropical sounds. So glad that both of these mixes fully embraced the pirate mentality, and delivered interpretations that I'm sure fans of the game will find nostalgic. As everyone else has already stated, this mix is pure FUN. I'm a big fan of the flute segment 2:15 in. The vocals MAKE the track folks, I can't imagine listening to the song without them.

Diggi Dis fires back with the grooviest track I've ever heard from him, utilizing a large range of his repertoire to lay down the funk. Funky funky bass, clavinet, trombone, and all the familiar Diggi Dis elements are at play here. Perfectly executed chiptune to boot. Many try their best to defy genres and incorporate crazy mish-mashes of different styles and textures, but to me nobody does it quite as naturally and effortlessly as Diggi Dis.

Verdict: These are probably my two favorite tracks on the whole shebang. That being said, I don't really hesitate too long in awarding Diggi Dis with the point. Objectively, it's arguably the best song on the album. The two closest matches, in my books, happen to be at the very front of the album, and audio fidelity delivered a humdinger that I hope everyone who played the game will have the chance to experience. Tough tough break for OCR and the Heroes to be edged 0-2 right at the start with some clooooose calls, but Diggi Dis prevails by another tiny margin by raising the bar yet again.

Will the Villains take a commanding 3-0 lead in the next battle, or can Brandon Strader save the day as Kratos? Tune in next time :tomatoface:

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This album is absolutely amazing. Probably my favorite OCR album yet. Really every track is great, but I particularly liked Mattias' Mega Man track (I'm a sucker for Mega Man and jazz) and Jose's Link track, which really surprised me. I didn't know what to expect, but I love the beat and the lyrics. Both of the TMNT tracks are also awesome (why don't we have more TMNT tracks on OCR!?).

I know I didn't go into much detail with this "review", but just wanted to say how great this album is! Awesome job everyone!

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gosh darn finally, a Wily stage mix from a game that's NOT Mega Man 2. AND it's from one of the best of them, too.

That's the only one I've had time to listen to thus far, but I'll just say that you already did tons better than the Complete Works remix of that song.

Can't wait to get out of this oppressive torrent-banned atmosphere and get me the rest of this!

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This album was awesome. Congratulations for all the artists that were involved in this project.

Could we see another one of these albums down the track? Will this become the OCR equivalent of Marvel vs. Capcom?

To get to the point. DJP, if there was enough buzz generated from this album, would you consider getting together with Mustin (and the rest of the Bad Dudes) and do another one of these albums?

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"Wrath Industrial" and "The bounty of a brain" is pretty damn epic.

The megaman theme (by matias) and "coconut milk" is great too.

I've not yet heard the whole album, but it's sounding pretty damn awesome so far.

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A massive thank you to the talented group of artists behind this album. Awesome, awesome stuff.

Also, I may not be in the majority here, but I *love* that FLAC versions are included. Back when the FF4 album was first released I only listened to the MP3s, and some time later I installed Rockbox on my iPod and loaded the FLACs. It was like a whole new album, and I mean that in the best way possible. To those of you only listening to the MP3s, you are really missing out on the brilliance behind these tracks.

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I POO on your rap-hate!

Rap iz teh wrst ting on teh whole plant I cnt stand it.

Oh great I have to review this now right...

Yeah... cool stuff, enjoyed the the remixes from Diggi Dis, AF and his crew of miscreants, bLiNd, Insert Rupee and Danimal Cannon. Best match up imo was Monkey Island, some fantastic stuff there. Not sure I dig the remastering that was done on my track so much but w/e you guys are promoting the SHIT out of it along with the whole album so i'm good :)

Great stuff guys, some really strong stuff overall. Might post match up reviews later, give some incite to my thoughts on who won each match up :P

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Not sure I dig the remastering that was done on my track so much

Sorry Will, that would be my bad! I went with what I thought sounded best coming out of my monitors and headphones, but I know how subjective mastering can be. Sorry that you didn't dig it...hope I didn't do too much damage to your track!

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Sorry Will, that would be my bad! I went with what I thought sounded best coming out of my monitors and headphones, but I know how subjective mastering can be. Sorry that you didn't dig it...hope I didn't do too much damage to your track!

Nah man its cool, I'm really kinda fuzzy about anything like that, and no one else seemed to care so i'm cool with it :wink:

Seriously, no sorry needed.

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Sorry Will, that would be my bad! I went with what I thought sounded best coming out of my monitors and headphones, but I know how subjective mastering can be. Sorry that you didn't dig it...hope I didn't do too much damage to your track!

those are weak headphones bro :P

in other news, i'm actually really blown away with what you did with mr. z cuz that actually sounded like shit before lol

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From the depths of Hades, Round 3...

kratos.jpg?w=150VS________zeus.gif?w=150

Hype Factor: 6/10

Let's all be honest here. On paper, at the outset at least, this was the most lopsided of the announced match-ups. In one corner: ktriton, accomplished musician with some of the most creative and imaginative music on OCR and the Bad Dudes albums. In the other corner, after multiple artists declined taking on the Kratos theme: Brandon Strader, with no posted OCR songs on his resume at the time. Put to the monumental task of re-imagining the God of War soundtrack, it was easy to bet on the veteran over the newcomer.

Fast forward about 8 months later and that gap has narrowed somewhat, with Brandon adding 4 OCR tracks to the site and the release of Root of All Evil, which sort of flew under the radar as a pretty solid OCR album. I probably would have still bet the farm on ktriton winning the match-up though.

Let me also take this opportunity to shower some praise on Kunal, who I don't think has received enough credit for his role in bringing this album to fruition. Mustin may have conceived HvV, but I have a feeling it was Kunal's hard work that pushed this album to release in just a year. My guess is that the overall ordering of the tracks and consideration of flow (which are perfect, btw) were conducted under his supervision. I think we all owe him our thanks!

Commentary:

Brandon's track really surprised me here, he clearly busted his ass on this song. Large, satisfying buildups and lots of addictive riffs. Clever use of the GoW theme in a metal soundscape, especially when the most recognizable part comes in at 2:00. Would have liked the use of some more orchestral or choral samples throughout, but won't nitpick here; the track is very solid.

The way Kunal turned that heavy percussion intro on Wrath Devine into industrial drums was genius and perfectly executed. Love the thunder sample. From there on it's a bit of a mixed bag, with the choral elements of the original turned into electro and industrial sounds that feel less striking. It's an accomplished technical piece but I think I would have loved it more if it fully embraced the industrial context created at the beginning to turn the track into something truly ominous.

Verdict:

The Kratos situation is kind of like having your first, second, and third string quarterbacks all falling to injury and depending on your fourth string quarterback to save the day. I think the Heroes side would have been happy if Brandon simply dueled Kunal to a near draw, but in a stunning upset I think the winner here is actually Strader. Wrath Devine is certainly a colossal track to mix, but so is the GoW theme, and I thought Brandon did as well as you could ask for. The different elements in Kunal's mix didn't mesh as well as I would have liked, but it's still a marvel on a technical standpoint. Well done guys! 2-1 advantage villains in my books after 3 rounds.

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