Bad Dudes recently sent me a copy of their recent Metroid album to review. I wanted to share my honest thoughts about the album and have tried to be constructive in my approach. I hope you can get a good idea of what the album is like!
First of all, I have to say, I received the album in perfect condition. Mustin sent it in a package specifically designed for compact discs and I cannot fault this method of delivery. In fact, I struggled to open it due to how secure and well packaged it was! When I did finally tear my way into it, I found the album to be a cardboard sleeve case rather than the jewel cases we’re so used to seeing with albums. It was sealed in cellophane, so I knew it was brand new and untouched. The sleeve contains two compartments; one had a double sided poster featuring artwork of the showdown between Samus, Mother Brain and the baby Metroid while the other featured a helmet less Samus and her ship. I was half expecting Bad Dudes to be really bad and have semi-naked Samus, thankfully it was all in good taste!
Also in the compartment was a four page comic featuring scenes from Super Metroid, which include battles with Kraid, Phantoon, Ridley and Mother Brain. On the flip side of that is the track listing and a description on every track. The write-ups give a detailed insight from the artists who created them. The second compartment holds the CD, its artwork is in the style of the black and white comic. The front and back cover of the disc are very cool, featuring Samus and environments in a cel-shaded style. The font is clear to read and is a rather nice package overall.
So I guess it’s on to the album itself. Below are my thoughts on each individual tracks followed by my overall thoughts on the album.
Celebrating 25 years of Metroid, Bad Dudes have released their latest album to mark the momentous occasion.
01 – The Theme – Metroid (Title BGM)
The album opens just like any great Metroid album should, with a cover of the Metroid NES title theme by Tim Sheely. I felt it was a strong and macho start to the album that gave me high hopes that Metroid Arrange was a high quality album. I can only imagine that Tim must have felt he had a lot to live up to with this track, and all in all, he achieved a fantastic opening track. This certainly gave me a reason to listen on, I really enjoyed it.
02 – Super Funktroid – Super Metroid (Theme of Super Metroid)
Allsean and Bruce Bonebrake II certainly showed me that this was an album that was to change pace, from cinematic to Metal. The theme is a big one, an important one in my eyes and I wasn’t left too disappointed. While I feel there are better tracks out there, this certainly wasn’t one of the worst. I love the power that went into it at certain points, the drums and guitar were spot on, I loved the improvisation, especially the Arabic style thing he had going on towards the end before the main theme kicked in once again. A great effort, but it probably doesn’t quite touch Metroid Metal’s version, which I enjoyed more.
03 – Grand Metroid Island – Metroid Prime (Menu Select)
I have worked with Mazedude previously for Harmony of a Hunter and I am well aware of his dedication and talent when it comes to his work, so it came as no surprise that this track would be anything but bad, albeit a bit different. He describes it as “swinging synth pop meets reggae and Caribbean” and I couldn’t think of a better way to describe it. He turns the theme on its head just like he has done previously with “Parasite X track” (Harmony of a Hunter) and made me grin from ear to ear in how bizarre it is. There was a nice touch of choir around two minutes in that was a nice throwback to the original and 2:24 certainly made my ears perk up when the beat got thrown off, good effort! Overall, I love it, a great contribution once again Maze.
04 – Kr4444id – Metroid (Small Boss Room)
A nice drum ‘n bass remix of Kraid’s Lair here from Mustin, after a long build up, the melody finally kicks in around 1:25 almost in a dignified manner. It’s just one of those tracks that you have to keep listening to in intrigue and awe at how different it is compared to the original, yet is as wonderful and weird as the original. There were parts that I felt could have been a little less relaxed and laid back, but otherwise a rather enjoyable addition to an album.
05 – Spikes are everywhere – Super Metroid (Brinstar Red Soil)
DiggiDis did a great job with the Brinstar Red track. There are literally hundreds of versions of this theme that have been covered over the years, but I’m pleased that the theme wasn’t made to feel generic. It fits very closely to the original and retains what I enjoyed about it. I especially loved what was done to the voice of Dan Owsen, playing on his famous words from the start of Super Metroid. The piano at 1:18 was a nice refreshing change; normally we’re just used to hearing something generic here, but I liked the improvisation. Then it hits you, the theme is flipped upside down and the dubstep kicks in, after hearing zircon’s Ashes to Ashes, I have become a bigger fan of the genre, I don’t think people will be too put off from it as it seems to fit in well. I can totally dig this! The track ends with hints of the Super Metroid ending theme in a laid back manner, thanks for the surprises DiggiDis!
06 – Phazon Punch – Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (Emperor Ing Battle)
I must admit, I am a huge fan of Metroid Prime 2’s soundtrack, it is dark and eerie and really suits the game. Emperor Ing’s battle is a great track. Sadly, I don’t feel Kunal Majmudar quite grabbed my attention with this one. I wasn’t impressed with it on the first listen and it took me several listens to appreciate certain aspects of it. I enjoyed the strings at 0:32 and 2:41 and I highly praise that approach, but overall I didn’t like the track. It could be down to personal preference but I have to say that this was the wrong genre to approach it with for what should be an epic showdown.
The disc has some stunning artwork pulled straight from the four page comic that is included with the album.
07 – Tallon Et Nox – Metroid Prime (Tallon Overworld)
My favourite piece of music from my favourite video game. After hearing zircon and C-GPO’s Solitude, I didn’t think this theme could really be matched again. It’s not my favourite version of the theme, it retains a lot of elements about Mazedude’s style that I appreciate and doesn’t stray too far away from the original. It remains different, but perhaps a little too different than what I’m used to. A reasonable effort from Mazedude, a track I think others will love but for me personally, I think nostalgia wins this one.
08 – Drifter – Metroid Prime (Ice Valley)
When you think of the theme to Phendrana Drifts, you think of light instruments, calming and an awe-inspiring icy landscape. You wouldn’t associate it with a dark and eerie start like Drifter has. ZykO surprises me. Close your eyes and imagine you are entering a darkened cavern of ice, not knowing what to expect but progressing with intrigue. This is the feeling I got when I heard this track. It retains a lot of what was great about the original and is of a high quality. I felt the track dragged on a bit longer than I would have liked, there’s only so many times you can hear the melody repeat itself, even with changing guitar and synths. It’s certainly a track of atmosphere and different enough for me to recommend to you. A great effort but perhaps just a little too long.
09 – Singularity – Super Metroid (Maridia, Rocky underground water area)
Probably one of the most immersive and relaxing themes from Super Metroid, it was never a huge favourite of mine but over time it grew on me. I have to be honest, I think Mustin nailed this one. It doesn’t stray too far from the original, retains what was great about the original yet is different enough to provide something new to what I’ve heard before. You can tell from reading Mustin’s description of the track that he really cares for the source material and the game, explaining how important it is to him. Good job!
10 – The next sunrise – Super Metroid (Brinstar, Plant Overgrowth area)
This theme will always be special to me, it is my favourite theme in the whole series. Like Brinstar red soil, this track has been covered so many times and I thought I heard it all. However, posu yan surprised me with a chip tune approach to the theme and more so with his R&B vocals. It’s rare that we get any vocals in a Metroid remix and although this genre doesn’t appeal to me, it was a reasonable effort.
11 – Dieselbrainage – Super Metroid (Mother Brain)
An iconic moment in Metroid history, Super Metroid’s showdown against Samus and the Mother Brain is certainly something we don’t hear every day, and Mazedude returns once again with another drum ‘n bass cover. For a track that is respectfully difficult to cover, I have to take my hat off to Mazedude for doing a cracking job. There’s also a fun moment at 1:56 (I won’t spoil it) that made me grin. I enjoyed the industrial style approach that followed and the harsh and dramatic appearance of the Tourian theme mixed in. Mazedude, you are a god.
12 – Credtroids – Metroid II: Return of Samus (Ending)
Oh how I do love that this theme has been given more appreciation. Kunal Majmudar provides a groovy chip tune approach to the theme. I’ve heard two versions of this theme previously, BigGiantCircles covered it for OCRemix and Sam Dillard did so in his Ending Suite theme on Harmony of a Hunter. This will stand alongside them, it’s made me rethink Kunal’s presence on the album and was certainly much more enjoyable than Phazon Punch to me. There’s only one bit of advice I can give to Kunal, and that is to stick to what he knows and loves.The showdown between Mother Brain, Samus Aran and the baby Metroid is captured here as part of a double sided poster included with the album.
13 – In search of the last Metroid – Super Metroid (Medley)
I do enjoy a good medley, and this HUGE thirteen minute epic really got me excited. Joshua Morse starts out with the Opening theme, with some great sound effects present from the game. The journey begins as we hear the Crateria Arrival theme and the eerie nature that has always been present in covers I have heard is present here too. It reminds me very much of what I heard on Relics of the Chozo all those years ago. I smile due to the fact that Joshua has included SFX of Samus’ footsteps here, this really IS a journey, a journey through Zebes, travelling through the iconic planet that we all know and love! I can visualise with my mind how Samus is going to be traversing the vast planet of Zebes and I can’t wait to hear more!
The track progresses into Brinstar’s plant overgrowth theme which stays true to the original with electric guitar and choirs with an eventual move into Lower Norfair’s theme. Plucked strings and an orchestrated feel to the Lower Norfair theme were most welcome in what I would say is the most iconic theme in Metroid history. The brass fits beautifully into one of the most iconic themes in Metroid history and briefly moves into the last section of the Ridley battle theme. The track progresses into a laid back take on Brinstar’s Red soil theme with spooky choirs, building into brass with further plucked strings. Sound effects make a welcome return, the sound of a door opens and closes as Samus progresses into the item room, a theme that is present across most Metroid games but is rarely covered in remix, and it’s great to hear. It stays true to the original, but we only get to hear it briefly before we hear Samus move on to an intense metal cover of the Space Pirates appears theme which is mixed with orchestra and a synthetic choir.
Next up is Maridia, the flute here is PERFECTION. I love the sample used couldn’t have been better, oh and what is this at 10:06? A slight adjustment to the theme bringing through some originality and moving into choirs again? Yes…I love this. I could listen to this section all day. I look at the time and we’re already ten minutes in, we’re nearing the final part of the theme now with four tracks to go. Chozo Statue awakens is a theme I rarely hear covered, yet has a lot of importance in Super Metroid. Hostile incoming is a great theme that is heard pre-boss, which has always been an eerie and sinister track, Joshua doesn’t disappoint here. Onwards to Ridley! I knew it was coming, I just didn’t know what to expect once I heard it. This version reminds me of the Other M version rather than the Super Metroid version, but all in all it’s very good, although nothing hugely different to what you’d expect from a Ridley battle. Spore Spawn is heard briefly as the introduction of a huge metal build up leading to the iconic Samus Aran Appearance Fanfare. What can I say? Best track on the album by far. Joshua, this is the beating heart of the album you should be very proud with what you accomplished here.
14 – Bubble Tea – Metroid (Norfair)
Well it’s not every day you hear Norfair covered, and never as a piano arrangement. It takes away the harsh fiery depths of the original and turns it into something beautiful. This reminds me very much of Pyro Paper Planes from Harmony of a Hunter, in the soft approach mixed with epic moments. It’s a short arrangement ending how the album started, with the title theme to Metroid, ending the album beautifully…or does it?
?? – Bonus track
If you want to know what this bonus track is, you’ll have to look elsewhere, or buy the album to find out (It isn’t available to download free). It’s very much a track in two parts, two themes that work well together and made me smile. Why weren’t these themes covered before? I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a remix of these themes before. Both are a mix of orchestrated and electronic samples but work brilliantly together. All I can say is that from my experience in hearing it, you won’t be disappointed.
Samus is looking stunning on the flip side of the poster.
Overall, I am quite impressed with the compilation. Yes, there are tracks that I feel could have done better in a different genre, but overall I cannot fault them for putting together a great album. It’s nice to see more love for Metroid’s 25th anniversary and more remixes like this can only be a positive thing for the franchise. My thanks to everyone who made this possible and a huge thanks to the team for allowing us to review this album.
You can listen to the album for free on Bandcamp, purchase a physical copy for $13.99 (while stocks last, only 1000 made!) or a digital copy for $9.99. Both the physical and digital copies come with the bonus track. For more information on the album and to hear more from Bad Dudes, be sure to check out the official website.
Good job Bad Dudes, you’ve done Metroid fans proud.
We are also giving one lucky user a chance to win a copy of the album! Simply tell us your favourite track by commenting on our Facebook page. Tell us what your favourite track from the album is and why! A winner will be chosen on the 29th February 2012. All entries must be made specifically as a comment to this thread.
© 2012 Darren
Special thanks to Mustin for sending review copies.
This feature was originally published in February 2012. It has been slightly edited since its original publication.