What happens when you take some of the best known and most beloved folks in the video game rock and ReMix community, and force them to play together at the biggest gathering of VGM lovers in the world? You end up with The Smash Brothers, who recently threw down another memorable set at this year's MAGFest.
Their debut and so far only album, the Bacon EP, came out at MAGFest 7, but to celebrate this year's concert, they decided to release this collection of seven, over the top tracks of video game rearrangements absolutely free at their website thesmashbrothers.com.
Things kick off heavy with the opening track Makes You Starowngahhhh/Lifeforce. Heavy drums and guitar lay the groundwork for some space fighting solo work. The song brings on some horns to drive the cosmic and epic feel home. Then things break down and we reach a lull before another insane guitar fronted climax. After soaring through the skies we crash-land right at Dracula's doorstep. Actraiservania/Actraiser Castlevania IV is a strong straightforward track skillfully combining the haunting yet heroic music of Castlevania, and the mighty sounds of Actraiser. The action builds until the very last moment. Then we find ourselves in Onett/Earthbound for a lively, jazzed up and funked out version of the town theme that would make the Runaway Five proud. Staying true to the upbeat sounds of the original, the song does an amazing job taking you back to your first time playing earthbound (not to mention a few other game worlds that are sprinkled throughout the song).
Now we come to a particular favorite track, from a game I am constantly complaining about needing some more coverage in the VGM world. We are now at Shaking Hands With The Devil/UN Squadron. Starting ominously, and not out of place in a catalog of Led Zeppelin albums, the stellar arrangement lifts into a Guitar/Keyboard fronted combo. The rhythm section keeps things hard and heavy while the leads build and swirl around one another, building an atmospheric dogfighting atmosphere that definitely gets you in the mood to take down an entire army of enemy jets all by yourself. Things get a little more relaxed with the soft nostalgic tones of ff1town.wav/Final Fantasy I. I have gone on record many a time talking about my lack of interest in new FF arrangements, having heard more than enough in my time. But this track may be one of, if not the most phenomenal recreations of the classic Final Fantasy music I have yet to hear. Any fan of FF, VGM, or music and video games in general owes it to themselves to hear this track.
Finally we come to Missile Ride/Contra IV. For those of you who have not played Contra IV, you really need to get on that. Anyway, some back story here is that the one and only Jake "virt" Kaufman was hired to create the music for the game, and virt being virt, and Contra being Contra, the game and music kicked considerable ass. So now we have a band with virt in it, rearranging game music that virt arranged originally for the game. Whoa. Anyway, that means this is one furious and over the top manly metal track, and will blow you away just as much as the previous five tracks.
There is also one more bonus track, but I will leave that to you to find out about that one. Just make sure you do not miss out on this incredible EP. Once again, you can grab it over at The Smash Brothers official website.