Vomitron: No NES for the Wicked

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Vomitron: No NES for the Wicked
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Vomitron: No NES for the Wicked
Progressive Metal
Metavania Music
September 20th, 2011
Release length: 1:07:21
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Vomitron is a one-man operation helmed by Pete Rutcho, who you may be familiar with due to his involvement with Armory, Graveheart, and a few other bands. The project came to life back in 2002, releasing a demo that year, as well as one in 2005 before just putting out a self-titled debut album independently in 2007. Fast forward to 2011, and fans are given a brand new album of classic eight-bit gaming cover songs with No NES for the Wicked, released through Metavania Records. With the gaming cover band numbers growing richer by the day, does this end up a release that stands out among them, or one destined to just end up lost in the waves of nostalgia?

Well, No NES for the Wicked does stand out a little more than your average gaming cover release thanks largely to the song lengths that often incorporate an entire game’s score and not just one specific aspect of it. Once you get past the vulgar, yet all too familiar frustrations of “Filtered Blow,” you’re given a run through all the songs to the original Nintendo game Contra, starting from the introductory stage select screen, all the way to the game completion music. This title’s theme is easily one of the most noteworthy in gaming history, and always makes for a superb Metal cover with catchy melodies and plenty of energy to support it, but the rest of its soundtrack doesn’t quite live up to the same calibre. Some of the latter stage performances don’t transfer too well, coming off rather boring with a great lack of successful transitions. Had the stage completion music been used, the sudden jump from one level to another would be a little more fluid instead of jerking you right into an enemy base’s hallway or the final battle against the alien overlord without warning.

“The Legend of Zelda” is an interesting performance thanks largely to how its handled. The theme is a lot slower than most cover bands would normally perform it, giving way to the darker worlds within Hyrule through a more aggressive blasting style that ditches the upbeat sunny day fantastic melodies for more of a venomous modern Black Metal inspiration that really reflects the approaching threat of Ganon. Keeping the song under four minutes definitely helps prevent it from getting stale or putting in additional segments that simply don’t transition too well to a full Metal recording, leaving gaps that are a lot more boring than originally intended like with “Contra,” and even “Castlevania.” “Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link” also starts slower and expands certain parts instead of cramming most of it into one extended song, creating yet another fantastical opera similar to what “Blaster Master” has going on.

“Blaster Master” is a surprising choice, and makes for a superb mixture of Progressive Rock backed with Space Rock synthas that really keep the Logan’s Run style Science Fiction imagery alive, especially during the beautiful keyboard performance around the two-minute mark. Thankfully the source material was always more like a Space Opera in the first place, making some of the shifts a little more understandable, but not always effective such as at the three-and-a-half minute mark. Then there’s the glorious “Ninja Gaiden: Acts 1-3” and “Ninja Gaiden: Acts 4-6,” which covers of all the material that was originally meant to be dark, sleek, and often have a strong melody. This makes the jump out of midi files to full fledged modern production values perfect to hold the same amount of tension and atmosphere as the game’s difficulty was incredibly frustrating.

No NES for the Wicked just seems to try to do too much at once. It’s commendable that Vomitron takes the covers to another level by incorporating most, if not all of the title’s score, but there’s a reason why some of those sections aren’t covered too often. Not everything translates to a modern audio quality too well, and songs like “Contra,” “Castlevania,” and “Double Dragon” show this quite well, especially when you don’t include decent transitions. But when it works, it weaves memorable short operas that make you think about the game in an entirely different light. When a score that once was nothing more a simple midi file, or downgraded to something like it that can translate into moving pieces or songs full of imagery, it’s a sign of quality musicians on both ends of the spectrum. Hopefully Pete Rutcho looks for more overlooked games to work some magic on instead of the go-to titles common on the internet, but for now, No NES for the Wicked is an interesting entry into the world of game cover bands.

01. Filtered Blow – 0:19
02. Contra – 8:06
03. Blaster Master – 8:24
04. Kalinka – 0:55
05. The Legend of Zelda – 3:54
06. Ninja Gaiden: Acts 1-3 – 8:34
07. Troika – 0:45
08. Double Dragon – 8:10
09. Bradinsky – 1:11
10. Ninja Gaiden Acts 4-6 – 8:30
11. The Soviet Mind Game – 0:51
12. Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link – 7:15
13. Korobeyniki – 0:52
14. Castlevania – 9:37
Initial Pressing Score: 7/10

Vomitron
Vomitron

Physical review copy of this release provided by Metavania Records.