Heavy Metal Thunder -The Recordings-
Heavy Metal Thunder -The Recordings-
September 7, 2005
Buy at CDJapan
Huh, this is a Square Enix soundtrack? Technically yes, although the action game was actually developed by Media Vision and there aren’t many game musicians to be found. The in-game music is instead dominated by heavy metal songs by a variety of artists with the Japanese metal parody band The Sexmachineguns making the most contributions. There are guest appearances from Shadow of the Colossus‘s Ko Otani, Falcom arranger Hiroyuki Namba, German heavy metal guitarist Michael Schenker, and former Megadeth member Marty Friedman. Heavy Metal Thunder -The Recordings- features eight vocal pieces and two instrumental works from the game. How does it fare?
The Sex Machineguns start the album off on an upbeat note with the title track. The vocalist soon captivates with his passionate vibrato-laden presentation of the Japanese and English lyrics. His distinctive voice seems influenced by both rock and operatic vocalists. The band’s instrumentalists will likely endear too with their energetic backing and solid electric guitar solos. Their second appearance, “Straight Line Delivery”, is one of the heavier additions to the albums with its desperate vocals, furious riffs, and hard drum line. However, the piece is hardly alienating and the vocalist and solo guitarist definitely keep the fun factor alive. The band also has the honour of closing the album with “Ride the Dolphin”. While the talent of the performers is still evident, the composition is far less impressive here. The melody is relatively vanilla and sometimes jarring while the backing lacks energy aside the last section.
Garlic Boys’ “Robot’s Ballad” is quite a confusing listen at first. The verse is mostly composed of crazy high-pitched male screams, electronically distorted backing vocals, and a fast-paced jagged bass line. However, the more melodic chorus section helps to bring the song together and there is enough energy and novelty throughout for it to be a compelling listen. Rolly’s “The Beauty Power” seems relatively normal at first with its catchy vocal melody and straightforward rock backing. However, some operatic solos from a disturbing male soprano manage to creep in and there is also a very clever bridge section just before the loop. Saburo Tokito’s “Wandering on the Reverse Highway” also features fairly effeminate males singing a slow ballad. Additions such as oriental instruments, humming backing vocals, and a showy electric guitar solo add to the quirk factor, but it’s still quite easy to appreciate.
Delta Throb’s “We are…” and Nanase Aikawa’s “Love Terrorist” are a couple of harder songs for the album. The former suffers from an out of tune vocalist and slow pacing, but the latter is short but sweet and uniquely features a female vocalist. There are also two principally instrumental tracks here. Introduced by an organ solo, Ko Otani’s “Madness” is a gothic gem dominated by hammering piano work and agonising screams. Though the entire piece is full of energy, the development is especially remarkable with its hopeful interlude and delicious sinister turn. Michael Schenker’s “Mask of Glory” is a generic upbeat 80s rock piece dedicated primarily to showcasing electric guitar work. Fortunately, it is well done though. The melodies are very catchy and rhythmically compelling plus there are other features like an opening operatic hook and a keyboard solo from Hiroyuki Namba.
The Heavy Metal Thunder soundtrack has a hard edge but it’s more about fun than attitude. Nearly all of the tracks are really appealing and accessible here. Most feature extravagant vocalists, interesting instrumentals, and great solos while managing to be individualised and refined too. The album comes together quite well as a whole thanks to continuous elements such as the dark yet glamorous semi-operatic vocals that even tinge the instrumental tracks. There are two less appealing entries, “We are…” and “Ride the Dolphin”, but classics such as “Heavy Metal Thunder”, “The Beauty Power”, “Madness”, and “Wandering on the Reverse Highway” easily make up for it. If you’re a fan of fun J-Rock or The Sex Machineguns, this album is a great purchase.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.