Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Vomitron: No NES For The Wicked Review
Anything is possible. When I first heard some of the Vomitron NES covers in a youtube video and later on their myspace page over 2 years ago, I was stunned to learn that there were no plans to formally release them as an album. Nobody knew why, whether it was licensing, a lack of money, or the right label to do it, but Peter Rutcho, the musical virtuoso behind the name, was sure: the covers were a side project for fun that wouldnt ever be released.
But here we are now in 2011 and No NES For The Wicked sits in a CD jewel case right next to me, a shining example, physical proof that truly anything is possible, including the formal release of what is quite surely the greatest set of covers in the history of videogame music.
The album starts off with a sample of what sounds like someone trying to insert a NES cart and then seeing the infamous blinking screen, and the erupting stream of profanity. Surely any true old school gaming fan has experienced this moment. What was once the sqawky, 8bit buzzing coming out of your old tube TV, the opening strains of Contra have never sounded this good before. What follows is what can only be described as a massive wall of sound, compressed beyond the bounds of normalcy in an attempt to possibly end the loudness wars. The guitars arent just big, they are epic, in the same way that a Metallica or AC/DC album just explodes with distortion.
I never finished Blaster Master, but the inclusion of its soundtrack in this collection certainly confirms its classic status. While I would have probably preferred to hear the Dr Willy theme song from MegaMan 2, this track surprised me and Im glad it was included, having never heard it before. The Legend of Zelda 1 and 2 are fantastic - while I heard these both on myspace, hearing the increased fidelity available from an uncompressed 16bit 44.1khz audio CD really lets these tracks shine. Nintendo never could have dreamed of the Zelda 1 dungeon music sounding so frightening.
The album is great up until this section - and then you hear Ninja Gaiden Acts 1-3 for the very first time ever - these were never available online, and you realize that the finished album isnt just great - its fucking unbelievable. Every single tiny little nuance and transition part is represented. As a musician, I can only imagine the amount of time and effort that went into making this not only work, but flow so beautifully. Sitting there with his guitar or keyboard in hand and ear pressed the the audio output of his SDTV, Rutcho not only was faithful to the original music, he has elevated it to an entirely new level of greatness that I never could have imagined.
The sound design in the keyboard and guitar work is absolutely impeccable. How Rutcho was able the discern the slightest variations in the output of the NES sound chip and extrapolate the perfect tone and timbre for every different instrument and part is inspiring. He could have easily gone with a single buzzy square wave and a simple doubled guitar part, and it would have been effective, but listening to Double Dragon you hear a representation of the original music thats uncanny in how faithful it is to the original textures while being of much higher fidelity. The drum programming is also outstanding. Ninja Gaiden Acts IV-VI and the finale, Castlevainia, are stunning examples of what a single human being is capable of with the maximum amount of dedication, passion, and skill.
When writing about something of such high quality, its easy to just devolve into an endless sea of superlatives, yet writing anything more subtle seems like Im selling this album short. Ive listened to a fair number of chiptune tracks and NES cover bands, but Vomitron has ruined me, scarred me - for life.
Rating: 10/10 - Flawless Victory
Vomitron - "No NES For The Wicked" - Previewr by vomitron665