The X-Hunters – Mankind’s Arrogance (2013) – Since I can only review current albums in New Noise, I had to review this one separately on my own website. But that’s fine with me, as in all actuality I like this record from the New Jersey VG metal act a lot more than their latest one. But I will dole that up to the material, as some of the renditions on Mankind’s Arrogance are songs that I cared more to hear arranged than what appeared on this year’s Edge Of Despair. Starting out the disc is “Zero Part 1: The Call 2:09” which is a rendition of Zero’s Mega Man X3 theme, which also appears during the first time that you could ever use him in a Mega Man X title. I remember the large spiked balls dropping from the air (why were there giant spiked balls dropping from the air in the first place?) and Mac, who I always felt the game needed to provide more information on. Especially when you’re calling a character Mac after what I’m guessing was the Macintosh computer. Unfortunately, Zero’s theme from the first Mega Man X game was not adapted (even though Capcom did it later in Mega Man Zero, which the band might take on in album three.) The next track here is “Lair Of The X-Hunters 2:22” which actually features an adaptation of the first two levels of the X2 X-Hunter base, and this is the first time I’ve ever heard it adapted – ever. They’ve also incorporated the Mega Man X6 (Gate’s Laboratory) theme (with a slight riff melody highlighting the original X2 X-Hunters base third stage) into the piece, working quite well as a whole. Though the tempo was much faster in the original pieces, these certainly fit. “A Gathering Storm 3:09” starts out with the most often covered Storm Eagle theme (by now everyone and their mother has done it) but it morphed into something that damn near brought tears to my eyes, which was an adaptation of Cyclops’ theme from X-Men Mutant Apocalypse. I’ve wanted to hear this adapted for at least fifteen years now, so finally being able to hear it was a dream fulfilled. All of the music on that game was fucking gold, so I’d love to hear the boss theme or Wolverine’s music adapted as well. I used to play that game just for the music, and would still do the same to this day.
The next track highlights another game with wonderful tunes, and that would be the Donkey Kong Country series. In “Kremling-Kong Quest” 7:20″ the first theme I hear is that of the underwater theme, which for some reason always reminded me of George Michael, but was a fucking amazing theme regardless. I definitely think that Eddie Kim’s (Deadfall) version is much better (but they’ve been doing some wonderful aquatic sounds on their latest album The First Harbinger), but it definitely works well enough. Next the factory music (and it took me a while to think about that one) is adapted, which is done quite well also. What I believe is the theme to Donkey Kong Country 2 then follows, (despite the fact that I’d really love to hear a good cover of the King K. Rool battle music from the first game) as the boss music to DKC2 plays. Next we jump back into Mega Man X with “Beneath The Armor Of The Earth 2:12” which is Armored Armadillo’s theme. Though the original had been a bit jumpier and I think the tempo was a bit faster here too, this version is much better than the punk one I heard on the OC Remix compilation Maverick Rising (which we had posted up on the old Tower blog for days – the post and albums still exist and are free if you want them) and it seems to do justice to the original. The next track here is “Sting Of The Centipede 2:20” which is another theme that I’ve wanted to hear covered for decades now, but I’m really upset that this one just doesn’t manage to capture the nature of the original. In the original synth version of the track, the drumming was much faster, almost like a sort of thrash metal (I could actually mimic those bass riffs perfectly if asked) and this adaptation is just too slow. The leads are correct, but the backing is off which upset me a little. Still, I’m not going to complain too much about the solo section, which is a great accompaniment to the piece. The next track, “Ancestors Of Evil 3:37” takes us back in time (even though actually forwards) to Mega Man 9. Now I’ll admit here and now that Mega Man 9 is one of the only original Mega Man games that I’ve never beaten due to its obscene difficulty. But I did watch a play through of the entire game, so I got the gist of it and later beat Mega Man 10 on my own. A few months back I actually tried to tackle it again and beat Splash Woman on my first try. Not too shabby, just like this medley of various themes from the game. “Hands Of Time 5:38” follows as a medley of Chrono Trigger greatness, beginning with the cave theme and moving further from there, even into my old buddy Lavos’ theme. The next track is the legendary X Vs Zero battle theme from Mega Man X5/X6 and it is here titled, “Zero Part II: X Vs. Zero 4:13.” Before I even go on, I had to judge this thing on the same level as what I’ve deemed to be the best damn adaptation of it that I’ve ever heard (“Duality” by Dr. Manhattan of OC Remix) which is really a close call, because I rather like both renditions equally. Both are hard hitting renditions with equally fantastic solos, (and both also utilize real guitars, not synthesized as some OC remixes are guilty of) but only this version of the track also contains a section from the original Mega Man X2 battle with Zero (if you didn’t find all of his parts in the game – it was an extremely difficult battle and took a lot out of you, especially being right before Sigma.) The disc ends with a rather strong rendition of Mega Man X2’s ending theme, which was always my favorite of the ending themes for the classic SNES titles and here it’s done assuredly great justice. I would have to say that they definitely amended the track and ended it out with a set of leads that really seemed to allow the track to soar.
This debut from The X-Hunters really showed a ton of promise, even though not all the tracks were perfect. If you’re not a hardcore Mega Man X fan yourself, then you probably won’t get these or understand eve a quarter of what I’m talking about. But if you do know what I’m talking about, I’m sure that you’ll find a lot to like here – and let’s face it, most of these tracks were kind of destined to be arranged in metal anyway. It’s sad that Capcom didn’t feel the same when they remade Mega Man X as Maverick Hunter X (and they moved all the fucking capsule locations too, bastards!) on the PSP and changed all the rocking tunes into unmemorable electronic drivel, as they showed us all how much they cared about Mega Man with X’s buster falling off in the anime film. That was merely a metaphor of things to come… But let’s not focus on that right now, as there are two really great works being sold for a small fee on the band’ Bandcamp page, and if you really like them, well you can buy them in SNES box format. A bit costly for me, but I implore those with wallets full of zenny to go out there and donate to the cause of a next record, which I will also be buying and reviewing just the same. Keep in mind that the Chrono Trigger, Donkey Country and X Men Mutant Apocalypse adaptations here were also rather proficient, meaning that even the Mega Man hater will find something noteworthy within this compilation of cybernetic metal. All in all, I think Mankind’s Arrogance fits the Maverick wars perfectly and it’s worth checking out for all of those who wanted to hear these X tunes arranged in metal, the way it should have been done years ago.
(10 Tracks, 36:00)