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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Powerglove

Metal Kombat for the Mortal Man

Review by Rick Damigella

What comes to mind when you think of unexpectedly great music combinations? Rob Halford fronting Black Sabbath in Costa Mesa, CA in ’92, Neil Young and Pearl Jam joining forces for Mirror Ball or Twisted Sister doing an album of Christmas songs are all good examples. But imagine for a minute if someone were to record blazing fast heavy metal versions of popular video game theme songs. That is what you get from this amazing instrumental album by Massachusetts’s Powerglove.

Now this is not an original idea. There are several bands out there who have recorded popular video game songs in punk, electronic and metal versions, but to no great effect. Japan’s Black Mages are true masters of this type of music, though they do have the legendary Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu as their leader and they of course only focus on his game music. Powerglove however have managed to put a power metal spin on several different famous pieces of video game music to absolutely amazing effect.

The band came to my attention by way of a story on Blabbermouth.net about how Dragonforce’s Herman Li asked the band to open for them at a concert in July of this year. Well, if Powerglove is good enough to open for Dragonforce then there must be something to them. One CD purchase from their website later and I was banging my head to familiar themes that no self-respecting metalhead gamer can possibly call anything but “freaking awesome!”

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
So Sexy Robotnik
The arch villain of Sonic the Hedgehog opens the album with a rousing number full of pounding drums and a twin guitar assault worthy of placement on a future edition of Guitar Hero.
Mario Minor
So the old school 8-bit intro might throw you off a moment but to hear Mario’s famous theme song riffed out by guitarists Chris Marchiel and Alex Berkson is truly spectacular.

 

Fight On
This number combines several themes from the Nintendo fighting game Killer Instinct. As I recall, the original music was quite metallic in its arrangement so this is a logical, if not too difficult to pull off, extension of the original pieces.
Vanquish the Horrible Night
If you ever played as Simon Belmont in the second Castlevania game, you will recognize this number’s melody. A classic guitar and bass chug power this number along at mid-tempo speeds.
Blasting the Hornet
Powerglove reach into the musical archives of the Mega Man series for this next number. The opening riff sounds like it could have been an outtake from Judas Priest’s Painkiller, but the song’s Japanese origins are evident in the killer twin lead guitar breaks.
The Duck Grinder
It is safe to say that if you ever played the original Nintendo Entertainment System and picked up a Light Gun then you played Duck Hunt. And it is even safer to say that you really, really, really wanted to unleash infrared lead fury into that annoying laughing hunting dog. If you ever spent many a frustrating hour trying to wing those digital drakes, then this frenetic thrasher will be quite the catharsis for you.
Power, Wisdom, Courage
This brings us to the centerpiece of the album, a masterful medley of half a dozen pieces of music from the Legend of Zelda game series. Shifting from slower and melodic to a full frontal metal assault, with appropriate keyboard flourishes thrown in, you will find yourself viewing your favorite green clad adventurer as someone who could have wielded a magical electric guitar instead of an enchanted ocarina.
Omnishred (We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Sword)
The song with the coolest title and subtitle on the album is probably the second best piece here. If you are familiar with the Black Mages then you will probably thumb your nose at this since the Mages are the masters of metalized Final Fantasy themes. But if you throw this on for the uninitiated, you will very likely blow their minds with Powerglove’s ferocious guitar and synth shredding. I predict whiplash is possible with this one if you see the band live.
Holy Orders (Be Quick and Just Shred)
The truly hardcore fighting game fans out there already know the vid game/metal connection found in the Guilty Gear series. This number from Guilty Gear X is another high speed rocker with screaming, shredding leads that invoke the style perfected by Yngwie Malmsteen.
Metal Kombat for the Mortal Man
I firmly believe that metal and certain forms of electronica are distantly related cousins. This speed metal version of the Mortal Kombat theme, combined with another from Mega Man, is that proof. This one is impossible not to air guitar along with. Pop this in at your next mixed martial arts workout for a natural boost to your fighting.
Red Wings Over Baron
A medley of pieces from Final Fantasy IV closes the album. Epic in scope and sound, the longest number here closes out an album that tracks in at a perfect length, yet leaves the listener wanting to hear more. Metal Kombat for the Mortal Man is available from the band’s website or on iTunes as is their first EP. It doesn’t matter if you have never played a video game in your life, if you are a metal fan, this is a must listen.
 
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