BadAss: Boss Themes

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BadAss: Boss Themes
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Overview

The enthusiastic musicians from OverClocked ReMix recently released their latest collaborative free album, BadAss: Boss Themes. Seventeen of the most iconic boss fight tracks from video games are assembled in BadAss: Boss Themes and as the title may indicate, it's not for the faint of heart or delicate of the eardrum. If you like your guitars grinding and your vocals growled, you're in for an hour and fifteen minutes of pure exhilaration. If you're turned off by grind metal, power metal, thrash metal, or pretty much any other kind of metal, you may feel inclined to sit this ReMix out — but give it a listen anyway. There are some rather subtle tracks on the album that shine brighter because of the louder ones that bookend them.

Body

A quick look at the tracklist shows the range of the album. From cult favourites (Luca Blight from Suikoden II) to the iconic One-Winged Angel himself, OCR reaches far and wide for these boss themes. Cobra's "Real American Hero" opens the album and is a swirling epic of a cinematic piece, opening with wooden xylophones and strings before the heavy percussion and minor brass take over. Nutritious does an incredible job with this track from beginning to end, and it serves as a shining example of the type of polished work that OverClocked ReMix can deliver. Big Giant Circles contributes Donkey Kong's "Duel of the Apes" next, using the cheesy "Dun dun dun dun!" arcade intro as a bait and switch before an unhurried electric guitar melody soars over the accompanying bass, strings, and percussion. It is every bit the equal to the equally cinematic feel of G.I. Joe's "Real American Hero", although the choral vocals might edge it slightly ahead since I never even considered using them for Donkey Kong.

The other tracks that follow in this more subtle direction are perhaps the most accessible to casual videogame music fans. Devil May Cry 3's "The Curse of Yamato" is a trippy but ominous piece that jumps between jazzy and deconstructionist orchestral feel while maintaining a bright, allegro tempo and a cinematic quality that endures throughout. Mega Man 3's "A Daring Escape" is a nicely produced track by Jago that mixes the spirit of The Magnificent Seven with The Great Escape, while still allowing Dr. Wily's iconic melody to shine through.

The prize for understated subtlety is easily awarded to Kirby: Super Star's "The Last Dance", which is one of my absolutely favorite stand outs from the album. Compared to the abrasive — but expertly arranged — guitars in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening's "Lights Out" and Metal Gear Solid 4's Routine of War, "The Last Dance" is positively ambient in its feel as its melody filters in between the sustained, drawn-out bassline. The Joker did quite an impressive job with this track and its only rival in terms of compositional complexity and subtle execution is Mazedude's eminently enjoyable "Saren's Prayer" from Mass Effect — a surefire favorite for fans and non-fans of the franchise.

This next sentence is difficult for me to type, as I am a dyed-in-the-wool Square Enix fanboy (who has two Final Fantasy inspired tattoos, I might add...) but I couldn't help but think that Final Fantasy franchise is a touch over-represented here. With five of the seventeen tracks coming from Nobuo Uematsu, OCR could have spun them off into their own separate companion album. Final Fantasy VI's Kefka is nicely represented in "The Sound of a Thousand Voices Screaming in Unison," which fires off with gritty, grinding guitars yet retains no trace of its more mercurial nature. Fans of the original theme and game will be delighted to hear a darker reimagining of the climactic theme, but a break for the silly bridge — which typified both the villain and theme — would have been nice. Gilgamesh's "Master of Blades" is a bit too slow to fit in with the rest of the album, and the less said of guttural, strained vocals of Jecht's "Dreams of Death" the better.

"BadAzz" takes Uematsu's acid rock inspired One-Winged Angel and gives it the house music treatment with distorted, static vocals replacing the usual Latin lyrics with minor attention paid to the proper pronunciation. Most notably, the hard c in "facias" is consistently mispronounced as a lispy "s". It's not an entirely welcome change, although points to PrototypeRaptor for the ambitious idea and I'll admit that the backbeat is pretty darn catchy. Following some mixed results, Final Fantasy VIII's "All Existence Denied" is my favorite of the five Final Fantasy themes. The spoken female dialog would have done well with a bit more vocal performance and a little less distortion. The threatening words of Ultimecia come off sounding like so much a community theatre line reading, but thankfully the ethereal piano melody that precedes it and truly excellent guitar work that follows compensates for the slight misstep.

Summary

One of the biggest criticisms that OverClocked ReMix's talented remixers have faced in their various collaborative projects is that the finished album lacks a coherent sound. With BadAss: Boss Themes, the group has succeeded in creating an album unified in theme and sound that will jog fond memories of epic, grueling climactic battles with one-winged angels, deranged clown gods, and ill-tempered mechanical geniuses. While at times a bit too reliant on sophomoric growls and heavy guitar work and growls to carry the more obscure themes, BadAss: Boss Themes is a solid example of what the collaborative powerhouse that is OverClocked ReMix can deliver when they set their minds to it.



Album
7/10

Music in game
0/10

Game
0/10

Matt Diener

BadAss: Boss Themes
Comments from album director David L. Puga (The Joker) & assistant director Pieter van Os (pu_freak)
Album freely available at http://badass.ocremix.org

BadAss. Hardcore. Asskickery, if you're dirty. These are the words I used when I officially announced BadAss back in March of 2009. The origins of BadAss begin a few years earlier. It was 2006, and a guy named Pi_R_[]ed decided he wanted to make a project that was nothing but boss themes. Kanjika joined up as the co-director and they made a good push with it. I eventually joined up, as did Pieter van Os (pu_freak). This incarnation was called Crescendo to Chaos, and while it was a great concept, it still felt like something was lacking. I always felt that it needed to be harder, grittier, and simply more evil than it was, you dig? The concept of an album made up entirely of Boss themes conjured up a certain feeling; a certain state of mind, and this wasn't delivering it.

Crescendo to Chaos eventually went defunct. Where many saw a loss, I saw a glimmer of awesomeness. With the encouragement of Kyle Crouse (KyleJCrb) and the support of my assistant director, pu_freak, I re-launched the project with new guidelines: "Everything must be BadAss! Can you hear me, damn you?" The album needed to encapsulate the idea of Bosses by featuring dark, visceral, and aggressive tracks. The name was changed to BadAss for obvious reasons, and here we are today. I'd be remiss not to thank KyleJCrb, evktalo (Eino Keskitalo), and everyone else at the KNGI boards for all their contributions, so thank you guys! To every artist, ReMixer and graphic artist alike, I salute you! You all indeed are BadAsses.

We're unleashing hell on an unassuming populace! Can you feel it?! Can you hear it?! That's the sound of ass-kickery of a magnitude previously unheard of. We're not just gonna win, we're gonna change the game! We are BadAss. Hope you enjoy the ride!

- David L. Puga (The Joker)

BadAss is a project that started under the name Crescendo to Chaos way back in early 2006. Both The Joker and I were part of that project as artists. It was one of the first things I did when I joined OverClocked ReMix. However, the project director vanished from the face of the Earth, leaving the work unfinished.

Not wanting to let the creative idea behind the project die, The Joker picked it up and transformed it. The goal now was to create rearrangements of boss themes in a very special style: raw, dark, and heavy. In one word: BadAss. I became assistant director shortly after BadAss was started, and together we searched the planet for the most BadAss of artists to contribute. I have grown enormously in rearranging music since the end of Crescendo to Chaos. In that time, the entire project has become much more cohesive and professional. BadAss, as an album, is really something to be proud of. I think everyone with a taste for BadAss music will love the result of our effort!

- Pieter van Os (pu_freak)

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01. Gilgamesh (Final Fantasy V) - Master of the Blades
Arranger: pu_freak
Composer: Nobuo Uematsu
Source: Clash on the Big Bridge

Director's Note: From the first note in the album opener you can just hear the aggression in that low bass intro transforming as it turns into a choral pad with a beautiful, yet ominous music box. The piano that comes along is soothing yet haunting. If there was ever a track that set the tone for the rest of the album, this would be it, and so it is. Hope you're comfortable, 'cos this'll be a hell of a ride. Welcome to BadAss!

02. Vergil (Devil May Cry 3) - The Curse of Yamato
Arranger: RoeTaKa
Composer: Tetsuya Shibata
Sources: "Devils Never Cry (Staff Roll), Vergil Battle 3

Director's Note: When I first asked Roe if there was a boss theme he wanted to remix, he said, "Hell yes there is! Devil May Cry, you dig?" Well, maybe he didn't say it quite like that, but you get the gist. Devil May Cry seldom gets remixed, if ever, so I was excited. Roe's known for making beat-thumping orchestral tracks mixed with electronica elements. If that's what you expected here, then, by golly, you got it! Roe took Vergil's DMC3 theme song & kicked it up into ass-kicking action movie territory. Bombastic horn staccatos, slick synth licks & beats to make your booty quake... if listening to this track doesn't make you want to fight some undead monsters, then I just don't know who you are anymore.

03. Laughing Octopus (Metal Gear Solid 4) - Routine of War
Arrangers: The Dual Dragons
Composers: Nobuko Toda, Shuichi Kobori, Kazuma Jinnouchi
Source: Laughing Octopus

Director's Note: This track almost didn't make it to the project thanks to my old crappy headphones. Soundtrack to my life, if my life was as hardcore as my more aggressive dreams... which sadly they're not. Alas, we can live vicariously through the Dual Dragons' awesome music. "Laughing Octopus" is a track I wouldn't have thought could make a good remix, but they done gone and did it! What was once a simple, almost ambient electronic tune has now become death, as well as metal masterpiece!

04. Donkey Kong (Donkey Kong [Game Boy]) - Duel of the Apes
Arranger: Big Giant Circles
Composer: Taisuke Araki
Sources: Stages 9-5, 9-6, 9-7; Stage 9-8; Stage 9-9

Director's Note: BGC was one of the first, if not the first, completed tracks we had. When I first heard it, it sounded good. Damn good, in fact. It was smooth, epic, and full of just that good ole fashioned swagger. I told Jimmy to make it darker anyway; he delivered. If the first half got you ready for adventure, then the second makes you fight for your ever loving life. Your life, damn you! If you wanted big, sweeping, smooth, choral rock, then by Crom you got it.

05. Luca Blight (Suikoden II) - To Slay a Butcher
Arranger: Arcana
Composer: Miki Higashino
Source: Cornered (Battle BGM ~ Luca Battle)

Director's Note: Arcana had started this track back when Off Topic was still around. If I remember the story correctly, they had a boss album that never went anywhere, so he put it on hold. Then we had to come along and poke the beehive with a stick. So he blew off the dust, and found an evil relic ready to unleash its wrath upon the world. Upon us. Industrial electronica with some of that good orchestral awesomeness!

06. Nightmare (Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening) - Lights Out
Arranger: Lashmush
Composers: Kazumi Totaka, Minako Hamano, Kozue Ishikawa
Source: Shadow Battles

Director's Note: Straight up instrumental metal. Pro-tip: Secret to beating Shadow Link, head banging. Also, moshing.

07. Ultimecia (Final Fantasy VIII) - All Existence Denied
Arrangers: Skummel Maske, LuIzA, pu_freak
Composer: Nobuo Uematsu
Source: The Extreme

Director's Note: That intro right there, man. Skummel, a well-known Dwelling of Duels artist, made this track for one of their monthly contests. He wanted to do some more work on it, make it rock even harder. So I said, "if you can make it rock thrice as hard as that, you're in." So he did. LuIzA lends her voice to the track, while pu_freak provided some tweaks to the piano and harp to give the track some more muscle.

08. Dr. Wily (Mega Man 3) - A Daring Escape
Arranger: Jago
Composer: Yasuaki Fujita
Source: Dr. Wily Stage 2

Director's Note: A little change of pace here, though don't expect us to go soft on you. While not as evil as the tracks before, Jago made sure this track is still just as foreboding as those before. Big orchestral kick-assery right here, player! Jago delivers us some of that cinematic flair, giving you just enough hope that everything will go smooth and evil scientists will be slayed, just to squash them dreams with some of that symphonic kick-assery. Hope you enjoyed that, it only gets darker from here on out.

09. Dracula (Castlevania series) - The Belmont Revolution
Arrangers: Chernabogue, NintenJoe 64
Composers: Michiru Yamane (Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia / Castlevania: Symphony of the Night), Ken-ichi Matsubara (Castlevania II), Soshiro Hokkai (Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance), Masahiko Kimura (Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow)
Sources: Dissonant Courage (Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia), Last Boss (Last Boss BGM) [Castlevania II], Incarnation of Darkness (Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance), Evil Invitation (Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow), The Horde's Festival (Castlevania: Symphony of the Night)

Director's Note: Son of the Dragon indeed. Chernabogue and NintenJoe give us some of that good old symphonic rock. Keeping with the sound that the Castlevania series are known for (and using themes from almost every game for good measure), this duo gives us a gritty medley filled with guitar shreddage, pausing just long enough to get that blue-blooded orchestral that all us miserable pile of secrets could only hope to achieve one day. The rock intertwines more and more as the track goes on, the nobility still apparent as the guitars bare their sharpened teeth. One more orchestral break, to get you complacent, then bam... What a horrible night to have a curse.

10. Astaroth (Shadow Hearts: Covenant) - Astaroth's Awakening
Arrangers: The Dual Dragons
Composer: Yasunori Mitsuda
Source: Astaroth (Fallen Angel Battle)

Director's Note: The Dual Dragons are back doing what they do best. Making awesomeness! Much like they did with Laughing Octopus's theme, the Dragons take a song that's not rock, and make it rock bigtime. What was once a more Middle East-influenced track, becomes a friggin' heavy just, just... a legendary beast of an arrangement. Hard rock with a bit of orchestral (because that's how this project rolls), make for dark, just ominous as all get out sounds that get the heart pumping.

11. Cobra (G.I. Joe) - Real American Hero
Arranger: Nutritious
Composers: Nobuyuki Shioda, Yusuke Takahama
Sources: Cobra Vehicles, Mission 6

Director's Note: You may think we're going symphonic on your ass, and we are. We just like to mix some of that electro rock in there for good measure. Next level electro, 'cos we mix genres like most people mix... stuff. For a game that hasn't ever had a remix, to my knowledge, this is one hell of a first. I heard this on the WIP boards, and had to get it on the project. Luckily, Nutritious said yes, and we had another high octane killer of a track.

12. Ridley (Super Metroid) - Dragonfood
Arranger: Rozovian
Composer: Minako Hamano
Source: Big Boss Confrontation BGM (Ridley, Draygon)

Director's Note: Keeping that old school Metroid vibe is nice and all, but then we said it wasn't hardcore enough, and Rozo added some steroids to the mix. Digital steroids. As dirty an electronic song as you'll find outside of dubstep, yet still haunting in that future way we love so much. Synthetic epicness at its finest. That outro is nothing short of chilling.

13. Saren (Mass Effect) - Saren's Prayer
Arranger: Mazedude
Composer: Jack Wall
Source: Saren

Director's Note: What do Mass Effect and Sully Erna have in common? Mazedude, that's what. Maze came in late into the project, but finished really quickly. He had Sinner's Prayer on the mind, and, in odd ways that us mere mortals can't fathom, thought, "this screams Saren." Emulating that track, then going insane on it in that way that only Mazedude can, he made this mystic sounding journey of a track that leads us straight into hallucinations that are sure to scare us straight.

14. Jecht (Final Fantasy X) - Dreams of Death
Arranger: Brandon Strader
Composer: Nobuo Uematsu
Source: Otherworld

Director's Note: Keeping the original genre intact, yet taking it to heights of badassery, Brandon gives the track an aura that is just evil and nasty. Growling death metal vocals, angry double kick stampedes, and next level guitar wankery, you can't get much more death in your metal without straight up dying. Music to mosh to, if you were so inclined (answer: you are).

15. Shredder (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV) - The Shredder
Arranger: Sixto Sounds
Composer: Mutsuhiko Izumi
Source: Technodrome ~ The Final Shell-Shock (Stage 10 BGM)

Director's Note: Sixto does what he does best, taking old favorites and adding a generous heaping of awesomeness to it. If there was a song that lives up to its name, it's this one. Juan's guitar shreddage is insane here. Those nostalgic notes are giving new life with energetic rock'n'roll! You think, Sixto's finished with this lesson in badassery, then he comes in with that final attack, and you're left asking, "Please, sir, may I have another?" You may, hater, you may.

16. Sephiroth (Final Fantasy VII) - BadAzz
Arranger: PrototypeRaptor
Composer: Nobuo Uematsu
Source: One-Winged Angel

Director's Note: With the exception of one letter, we present you our title track. I first heard this track on Soundcloud and instantly knew we needed it on the project. Raptor agreed, and so it was done. Some said "One-Winged Angel" was a track that was untouchable. Well, we touched it! Raptor gives it that high energy, dirty, gritty electro he's known for, and the end result speaks for itself.

17. Kefka (Final Fantasy VI) - The Sound of a Thousand Voices Screaming in Unison
Arranger: Kidd Cabbage
Composer: Nobuo Uematsu
Source: Kefka

Director's Note: Nihilistic. Anarchistic. BadAsstastic. These are the words that this track screams. Screaming in a thousand different voices, from a thousand different directions, all at the same time. If you didn't understand the tracks name, you do now. Kidd Cabbage has made, in his own opinion, the heaviest song he has ever made. I'm hard-pressed to disagree with that statement. We're almost there, the ending is in sight. Hopefully you've not gone insane yet. We got one more in store.

18. King Dedede (Kirby Super Star) - The Last Dance
Arranger: The Joker
Composer: Jun Ishikawa
Source: Great King Dedede's Theme

Director's Note: I'd been listening to Dedede's theme, the Smash Bros. version to be exact, and thought it'd make a great downtempo, trippy, ominous track. I figure, anyone who's king of a bunch of cutesy things has got to be going insane little by little, and I wanted to convey that in the track. pu_freak and I thought it sounded like a good ending track, so here it is. Congrats, you made it to the end. Hope you enjoyed this ride, and hope that you feel a little more badass because of it!
Album was composed by Jack Wall / Jun Ishikawa / Kazuma Jinnouchi / Ken-ichi Matsubara / Kozue Ishikawa / Masahiko Kimura / Michiru Yamane / Miki Higashino / Minako Hamano / Minako Hamano / Mutsuhiko Izumi / Nobuko Toda / Nobuo Uematsu / Nobuyuki Shioda / Shuichi Kobori / Soshiro Hokkai / Taisuke Araki / Tetsuya Shibata / Yasuaki Fujita / Yasunori Mitsuda / Yusuke Takahama and was released on December 6, 2011. Soundtrack consists of 18 tracks tracks with duration over more than hour. Album was released by OverClocked ReMix.

CD 1

1
Gilgamesh (Final Fantasy V) - Master of the Blades
03:28
2
Vergil (Devil May Cry 3) - The Curse of Yamato
05:11
3
Laughing Octopus (Metal Gear Solid 4) - Routine of War
03:12
4
Donkey Kong (Donkey Kong) - Duel of the Apes
04:16
5
Luca Blight (Suikoden II) - To Slay a Butcher
05:02
6
Nightmare (Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening) - Lights Out
03:33
7
Ultimecia (Final Fantasy VIII) - All Existence Denied
04:51
8
Dr. Wily (Mega Man 3) - A Daring Escape
03:04
9
Dracula (Castlevania series) - The Belmont Revolution
05:22
10
Astaroth (Shadow Hearts: Covenant) - Astaroth's Awakening
03:42
11
Cobra (G.I. Joe) - Real American Hero
03:05
12
Ridley (Super Metroid) - Dragonfood
04:30
13
Saren (Mass Effect) - Saren's Prayer
04:02
14
Jecht (Final Fantasy X) - Dreams of Death
03:56
15
Shredder (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV) - The Shredder
04:23
16
Sephiroth (Final Fantasy VII) - BadAzz
05:25
17
Kefka (Final Fantasy VI) - The Sound of a Thousand Voices Screaming in Unison
05:23
18
King Dedede (Kirby Super Star) - The Last Dance
04:00
24.02.13
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