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Armcannon - "Legvacuum" (CD)

Armcannon - "Legvacuum" CD cover image

"Legvacuum" track listing:

1. Cranial Syphon [Kay-Raid]
2. Smegmaman Three [He Enter Magma]
3. Techno [For Some Reason]
4. Super Cranial Syphon [Drum Poetries]
5. Borrow Mega Nuke [Eureka Bong Worm]
6. Dutch Town [Elbow Computers]
7. Bigger Boards [With Bigger Nails [With Bees In Their Mouth]]
8. Dozen Elf Death Gel [Unearthed Knife Volt]

Reviewed by on September 12, 2008

"a treasure trove of 8-bit pastiche to catapult listeners back into their misspent childhoods, with an additional metal flavor."

Last year, these legends of Buffalo, NY offered a full-length release of their unique perspective on video game music, drawing upon their love of metal and infusing their music with a heavy synth sound. The inversely titled album offers a treasure trove of 8-bit pastiche to catapult listeners back into their misspent childhoods, with an additional metal flavor.

Armcannon brings some unusual rhythms to the table and diversifies the video game music genre from the more familiar Nintendocore stylings of Horse The Band. Those looking to sate their palettes for a different brand of gaming music might find that they savor the style that "Legvacuum" dishes out in each cartridge-based homage.

“Cranial Syphon” starts powerfully, as is necessary for a Metroid cover. Keyboards bust out a square wave MIDI sound before switching abruptly to the lilting strains of a classical piano and guitar. The gentle piano solo that this song morphs into is quite pleasant, and one retrospectively begins to realize that these guys are quite good at switching things up within a single song. “Smegmaman Three” remains consistent as the keys lead the way back into some shredding and high-energy tunes, letting the drums and guitars shine at mid-track. Armcannon drops a techno-type beat to accompany the signature Megaman music. Just as this sound gets a little drawn out, the gate at the end of the level heaves up and they smack you in the face with a headbanger’s boss stage.

“Techno” is much as it sounds, a creation of the keyboardist with the drums pulsing behind to accompany staccato guitar work. It kind of fades out into funky electronic work, though, before inserting some 80's beeps and boops. “Super Cranial Syphon” is a strange, ambient work that reflects, obviously, upon Super Metroid. “Borrow Mega Nuke” is an anagram for Boomer Kuwanger of Megaman X fame, and it stays pretty true to the original song’s composition, enabling the listener to rock out non-stop. “Dutchtown” is the Tecmo Super Bowl homage with badass riffing. “Bigger Boards” steps over to the sultry strains of Final Fantasy VII. And of all the classic NES titles showcased here, “Dozen Elf Death Gel” is probably the best Legend of Zelda cover in existence, with the keys epically leading the way into the dungeon theme. Even when Link dies, Armcannon throws in a little ska / reggae flavor to cheer you up, and then the axes go into full swing to do justice to the overworld theme, interspersing this with a hint of Zelda 2.

The cast and crew of Armcannon conjoins men of all different musical backgrounds, but the metal appeal of this album should be latent and the musicianship will satisfy even the most finicky. A general warning should be issued to the ADHD kids that there is virtually no singing in this album, as should be obvious considering that video game is music is entirely instrumental, but there’s plenty of opportunities to dance like a lunatic if the spirit overtakes you.

There is so little to defame in this solid first release, however, I do have to frown upon a lack of beloved, older tracks like “Bhost Gusters,” as they would have found a warm welcome on the first official album while simultaneously publicizing their classics to a broader audience. Of course, this track is available for free download on their website, so the organizational choice is understandable in that context. The groovy Mario themes so common to concert-goers are also strikingly absent, so perhaps the next Armcannon offering will be a bit more diverse.

I highly endorse Legvacuum to your attention if you ever did love your NES, because what metalhead doesn’t enjoy brutal covers of those classic tunes?

Highs: Danceable, rockable MIDI-based tunes exemplify talented playing and the nostalgia of these reloaded rhythms is bound to bring a smile to your face.

Lows: Some tracks tend to wander on for a while, and certainly, if you're unfamiliar with the theme music, it won't hold quite the appeal.

Bottom line: Old-school gamers and metal musicians unite behind this well-produced and long-anticipated release of NES music with a metal / electronic spin.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)