No NES For The Wicked

She'll never get the Konami Code right, holding the controller like that...

No NES for the Wicked is the one-man project of Peter Rutcho (under the group name of ‘Vomitron’), this album is aimed at a slightly niche market – being aimed at both video game fans who also enjoy metal music – fortunately for Vomitron, they happened to have given their album to exactly the right reviewer. As a life long ‘metal-head’ and avid gaming addict, I’m more than pleased to present my review of No NES for the Wicked.

Aside from the cover art for this album which features a semi naked woman striking several provocative poses with an NES controller, this album gives a acknowledging nod towards the gaming populace with it’s opening track.

Here we have a gamer (presumably Peter himself) attempting to load up a game cartridge – though when it does not load he performs the tried and tested method of removing the cartridge and blowing into it. A classic maneuver and one which I myself have performed on several occasions. A great musical high five to his gaming audience.

Next up we have Contra – opening with the menu jingle, an explosion sound effect and blasting straight into the Jungle music performed with blistering metal – the positioning of these tracks is a very nice touch on Peters part as it makes you feel like you have literally just restarted the game. The guitar work alone is great in this song, let alone the accuracy of the notes played.

Moving through this song we are treated to the Base level music and the first boss fight which feature a great array of drums and snare rolls. Also played are the Waterfall level, the Snow Field, Energy Zone, Alien Base and finally finishing up with the ending credits music.

No NES For The Wicked

The first ‘actual’ song on the album is pushing past the 8 minute mark and with good reason; it features some of the most iconic music in the equally iconic game. Taking you through what is essentially a playthrough of Contra but with a very well composed and performed metal rendition.

The next song on the album is Blaster Master – now it’s confession time! I never actually played Blaster Master when I was younger so all I can do to compare this to its original composition is to listen to the Blaster Master music and then the Vomitron versions. Featuring some extremely well presented versions of the different Areas in Blaster Master the Vomitron version blends them nicely together to create another 8 minute instrumental experience.

As a bit of a treat, Vomitron have also sprinkled the album with the tracks from the classic Tengen Tetris, paying homage to the game with one of its lesser known pieces – Kalinka.

Next up! The moment I was most excited about The Legend of Zelda! – this OST has been remixed and re-mastered literally thousands of times and there are some seriously impressive versions out there – and thanks to Peter Rutcho and Vomitron, we have one more to add to the Honours list!

The Legend of Zelda blasts open with the main theme – this song will find you standing on a hill in the middle of Hyrule Field, Master Sword in one hand, Hyrule Shield (or Mirror Shield – your choice) in the other and Epona at your side as you prepare to face Ganon and his forces of evil and save the land from corruption and darkness and most importantly, rescue the princess!

Tearing through the intro we are thrown into the ‘Dungeon’ music with some fantastically Black Metal drum work which make this section of the track sound like something Cradle of Filth would produce – it really is that good! Leading nicely on from that we have both the Death Mountain theme and the iconic and frankly legendary (no pun intended) Overworld theme – this is one of the best covers of this music I have ever heard; the drums during the Dungeon music were subline!

Ahh, Ninja Gaiden – a series of games that inspired so many good memories, so much triumph and so many broken control pads. To hear some of the music from this timeless game rendered with that specific blend of heavy metal and chip-tune finesse is nothing short of an indulgent treat.

Now, Vomitron has decided to split their tributes to the impossibly difficult Ninja Gaiden across two separate songs both spanning over 8 minutes a piece, however I have chosen to talk about both songs at once.

Opening with a very heavy version of the opening cutscene music, we are led nicely through the various theme songs of the game featuring special mentions to the superbly frantic ‘Pursuit’ and the unforgettable Master Ninja theme.

Both the Ninja Gaiden tracks on this album have been a source of inspiration for me recently, I have found myself replacing my usual mix of video game soundtracks and instrumental pieces for these two songs (and usually the entire album – depending on the length of the work I am doing)

I’m a big fan of instrumental/progressive metal and to have something that not only fits those categories but also spills over nicely into the video game genre as well is fantastic.

We have a touch of Tetris in between these next few songs which serve as a great break between the bigger, meatier tracks. The recognisable ‘Korobeyniki’ otherwise know as the Tetris Main Theme is a wonderfully lovable tune at anytime but even more so through this remix. Also, the added NES special effects in the middle of ‘Bradinsky’ another of the Tengen Tetris songs – is a brilliant touch.

Link and the Legend of Zelda make their second appearance in this album with a remix of the themes from the second Zelda game – mixing these tunes together really sparks lots of seemingly forgotten memories and it’s very easy to see that Peter Rutcho is deeply in love with the video game industry.

Closing this album for us is one of my personal favourites – Castlevania! It is a real treat to hear this soundtrack remastered in such a crisp and clean way, both guitar and synthesizers are used to reanimate the soundtrack. Moving through such tracks like ‘Vampire Killer’, ‘Out of Time’, and ‘Nothing to Lose’ brought back great memories of horrific giant bats (good memories though) and the use of the whip sound effects near the end of the game bought back awesome memories of the final boss.

I will openly admit, when I learned that Peter Rutcho had not only performed all the music himself but also produced it – I thought there would be some ‘slippage’ – you know what I mean, a few instances where bias would get the better of him and he would gloss over any potential mistakes which would mar this otherwise perfect recreation of some classic video game soundtracks. Truth be told, there really isn’t any slippage in this entire album. This is simply one of the best cover albums for video game music I have ever heard.

Even going back and listening to the original soundtracks whilst working on this review made me realise simply how accurate Peters work really is, this man is a perfectionist when it comes to music. How he isn’t working with Video Games Live is beyond me.

No NES For The Wicked

The End...see what I did there?

I’m sincerely hoping that the entity that is Vomitron continues down it’s current path of musical influence – I (amongst others) would love to hear a follow up album (maybe ‘No SNES for the wicked’?) or even a second NES album, perhaps featuring the themes of games like Rocket Knight, Bionic Commando, Megaman – that kind of thing. Once you listen to Vomitron, you’ll be hooked!