Thursday, November 10, 2011

Review: Vomitron - No NES for the Wicked (2011)

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No NES for the Wicked

Vomitron - No NES for the Wicked
Although I was in my middle teens when the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) revolutionized the video game world, the allure of the compact console never managed to dissuade me from dropping quarters into the arcade-style setup at the local 7-11. Thus, I did not fall prey to console gaming and have managed to navigate life without being referred to as a "gamer", at least not in the electronic sense of the name. Even so, I am familiar with the themes to such games as Contra and Zelda, making Vomitron's latest offering No NES for the Wicked, an instrumental metallic soundtrack of some of the NES' more popular titles, a bit nostalgic even for me.

Multi-instrumentalist Peter Rutcho, the sole member of Vomitron, has found considerable success in the Massachusetts metal scene as the guitarist for thrashers Graveheart as well as keyboardist for the bands Frozen and Armory (whose The Dawn of Enlightenment I reviewed here). His first release under the Vomitron moniker was a bit of a metal/electronica hybrid, but with No NES for the Wicked he remains squarely within metallic confines, though just about every sub-genre from prog to thrash is leveraged to give the video game themes a proper metal makeover. All of the songs presented here should be familiar to seasoned video game aficionados, though the short bits from Tetris may throw those with fewer years under their belts.

Given Rutcho's background, it probably goes without saying that fancy fretwork and nimble ivory-tickling dominate No NES for the Wicked - but I've gone ahead and said it anyway. On the surface, the album may seem like a novelty to assist old-school gamers in reminiscing about callous-thumbed days gone by, but a closer inspection reveals much more than a simple homage to a revolutionary home entertainment system. "Contra", for example, contains some pretty intricate riffs that have a hefty bit of crunch to them, as well as some frantic piano and dancing synth bits...and explosions. The detail with which Rutcho crafted the arrangement makes this track one of the highlights of the album, along with "Castlevania". The closing track, "Castlevania" is perhaps the most progressive song on No NES for the Wicked, with frequent tempo shifts and very lively leads. The bass guitar, infused with a bit of funk, is a nice touch.

Elsewhere on the album, Rutcho channels his inner Satriani for some very sharp solos and crisp melodies. I couldn't help but be reminded of Thomas Dolby's work when listening to the synth effects on "Blaster Master", while the keyboard work of "Ninja Gaiden: Acts 4-6" brings to mind the Harold Faltermeyer groove of the '80s. Rutcho mines that particular sound even further on this track by tossing in some nice '80s hard rock riffs and solos.

Rutcho shines on No NES for the Wicked, his sharp guitar playing and complex keyboard work a testament to his talent and ability. With Vomitron being his experimental outlet, it's hard saying where Rutcho will head next, but for fans of sharp instrumental metal - as well as prog fans in general - No NES for the Wicked is more than worth investigating. For metal-loving gamers, I daresay it's a must-have album.

Track Listing
1Filtered Blow0:19
3Blaster Master8:24
5The Legend of Zelda3:53
6Ninja Gaiden: Acts 1-38:34
8Double Dragon8:10
10Ninja Gaiden: Acts 4-68:30
11The Soviet Mind Game0:50
12Zelda II: The Adventure of Link7:15
Total Runtime1:07:20

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  1. Excellent review of an album I did not know existed. I will look into getting it. BTW... LOL...I can't take my eyes off of that vintage NES controller on the front cover either. :)

    Stone/Metal Odyssey \m/

  2. Thanks Stone! This one is a nice little gem of an album, and if you like the cover...well...the rest of the artwork finds that controller in a number of other fine locations ;)