Title:No NES For The Wicked
A few months ago I was sent the CD “No NES For The Wicked” from VOMITRON to review. VOMITRON is said to be a one-man-project, born from the (gaming) mind of Peter Rutcho, who plays keyboards in FROZEN and ARMORY, and guitar in the Thrash band GRAVEHEART. Peter is a game fanatic and specifically the Nintendo games of the 1980s. According to Metal-Archives.com Peter released two demos (aptly titled “Demo 2002” and “Demo 2005”) before putting a proper full-length in 2007, called “Vomitron”. I’m not familiar with his earlier works, so I can only speak for his latest output, “No NES For The Wicked”. NES stands for, in case you are not familiar with this gaming console, Nintendo Entertainment System and was most popular because of “Super Mario Bros”, “Double Dragon”, “Batman”, “Castlevania”, “Zelda” and many many more.
So, as a sort of tribute to this gaming system, Peter Rutcho decided to select some games and make an album of their music. Others have done it before him, using game sounds in their compositions. For example, there’s the Italian drummer Andrea Vadrucci aka Vadrum. See his YouTube channel for videos where he puts drums to the music of the 3 “Mario Bros” games. Then there’s the Swedish band MACHINAE SUPREMACY, who play what they call SID-Metal. And there’s DRAGONFORCE, whose solos often can be compared to game sounds. If you know more, I’m interested to know who else plays such Metal. But back to VOMITRON.
Of the featured games on this album, which came out on the 20th September 2011, I have played – as far as I can remember, because it’s been more than 20 years since I last played on a NES – “Double Dragon” and perhaps some “Ninja Gaiden”. I have played “Super Mario Bros” a lot, “Batman”, “Prince Of Persia” and a few others I can’t remember anymore. Oh yes, a duck shooting game, I actually tried this one in a virtual reality game, this was such a unique experience, I would recommended to anyone who is into gaming, check this Website and find more about it. Anyway, “No NES For The Wicked” begins with Peter coming into the room and cursing while starting his NES. This little scene did remind of the guy who swears when he’s playing a difficult level in “Super Mario Bros.”. See the video on YouTube. Then it’s time for music and music alone. No vocals, all tracks are instrumental. “Contra” is basically Power Metal with those typical game influences, played on guitar. The leadwork is great and the assisting rhythm section makes the whole a very enjoyable track. I don’t know if the drums are programmed (they probably are), but they sure sound good and firm. If they’re played by someone who prefers to remain anonymous, then kudos to that person. It’s also great to hear how the music is adapted when, for example, danger is ahead or things get more spooky. Over halfway there’s a very nice melodic keyboard part, which I find übercatchy!! In short, this is one awesome Progressive Power Metal track!
“Blaster Master” also offers melodic guitarwork with beautiful harmonies and a catchy rhythm. Pure delight! The keyboards also provide help on the melodic front (incl. the atmospheric pieces). The rhythm may be straight-forward and the pace midtempo, but it all sounds so tasty! There’s an increase in power later featuring very nice keyboard leads, which have that 80’s touch, but in combination with the Metal instrumentation it’s a joy to listen to. Like in the game, Peter switches from one part to the other and about halfway the song, it’s good to hear the bass guitar being higher in the mix. So far, so very good. “Kalinka” is one of the Polka Metal songs, from the “Tetris” games. So are “Troika”, “Bradinsky”, “The Soviet Mind Game” and “Korobeyniki”. Each of those very entertaining and well done.
This brings us to “The Legend Of Zelda”. Starting with an intro that sounds quite epic and then bombast is let loose with toms and guitar leads. This part reminded me of SAVATAGE and/or TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA. In other words, first class material! And then danger pops up, as indicated by the keyboards and the accompanying Black Metal. Yes, Black Metal, the riffs, the blastbeats. What a contrast! And what a smooth transition into marching drums and firm Heavy Metal. No complaints from my part whatsoever. Up next, the first 3 acts of “Ninja Gaiden”. Here you get energetic Heavy Metal, so get set for a good portion of METAL!! Do allow some time for the atmospheric pieces to pave the way for this to happen. Crazy stuff here further down the line, but it’s good.
After the second Polka, “Double Dragon” is due. On offer: pounding melodic Power Metal with a good slab of the 1980s. It’s straight-forward, slow and dark. Changes here are well done and the melodic side sure is of high importance, with a leading role for the keyboards. “Ninja Gaiden: Acts 4-6” complete the series with powerful, bombastic Metal where keyboards take on atmosphere and make this first part complete. Then you get 80’s Metal with a dancey rhythm, followed by a dark midtempo part featuring symphonic input. But fear not, for the tempo does increase at some point, which results in double bass Power Metal. Like before and like in the game, the music changes depending on the scene and so it happens here. There’s even room for a ballad near the end.
“Zelda 2: The Adventure Of Link” has twinkling sounds coming in, like a magical fairytale. Slow, hymnic Metal falls in after that, but it gets more powerful along the way. The guitarwork does stand out here, that’s crystal clear. Peter made a very nice Progressive song out of it all. Last but not least there’s “Castlevania”, containing 80’s keyboards and melodic (midtempo) Power Metal. It’s got all the ingredients you can think of for this dish, including speed increases, solos, dancey rhythm, bombast, …
I’ll get to the point: this is one of the surprises of 2011! The first time I listened to “No NES For The Wicked” was in the train with my headphones and even though I thought the songs would contain lots of those 8-bit sounds, it’s only here and there that Peter incorporated them and played most on his guitar and keyboards. In any case, from the first listen this album put a smile on my face, for the tunes put me in a good mood. I could play this over and over for several times and not get tired of it (I will eventually, of course, as with other releases). VOMITRON put out an awesome album – at least in my humble opinion – and therefore I can only highly recommend it. But where do I put it on my Best Of 2011 list?
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For those interested in NES soundtracks, I found this website where you can freely download them.
- Filtered Blow
- Blaster Master
- The Legend Of Zelda
- Ninja Gaiden: Acts 1-3
- Double Dragon
- Ninja Gaiden: Acts 4-6
- The Soviet Mind Game
- Zelda 2: The Adventure Of Link
Peter Rutcho – all instruments