Year 200X, who are playing Lansing anime convention Shuto Con this Saturday (see Shuto Con’s website for details), are one of the most unique bands to come around in a while. Formed in 2006, the band plays metal-style renditions of Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) video games tunes from games like Mega Man 3, Ghosts and Goblins, Zelda II and Contra. Year 200x is Tim Lydon (Guitar), Rance Tatroe (Guitar), Tony Oliver (Guitar), Ian Whiters (Bass) and Jake Bryan (Drums).

Onto the review…

I will first say that I have never heard any of the original video game tunes the band is covering. I will judge the music by its own merits. Now, that said, here are the my main points. I love the uniqueness of this concept. Covering some of the classic video game tunes in a metal style is a great and inventive way to not only show your love of metal but your love of video games. The band certainly does both very well. But sometimes concept and the concept’s execution don’t transition well.

The playing itself on the individual instruments is fantastic. The harmony guitars, the killer breakdown, blast beats and the overall epicness are things I really love about this album. There are countless examples of these techniques on this album. The guitar tones on the album are surprisingly diverse on some of the songs. Metal-ified wah a la Kirk Hammett is heard on “Ducktales (The Moon)” and a bluesy and jazzy introduction on “Ninja Gaiden II (Intro)” is excellent. It reminds me of “End Credits” by Opeth. Then there’s the classic, death metal riffage on “Life Force (Level 1 – Level 6 – Boss – Level 3)”. It beats you over the head; really intense. The drumming is also top notch here. Blast beats and lightning quick hits only add to the intensity of some of the takes. The bass, however, is hardly audible (at least to me).

Given that I praised the instrumental performances here, that leads me to my only complaint. I understand that this is a video game tunes cover album, which is why there are no vocals. But having listened to metal with vocals all of my life, I’ve become accustomed to that element always being there. This is not a huge complaint by any means. The instrumental music more than makes up for it. It just bugs me and it takes a little getting used to.

Overall, this album is a unique adventure of 8 bit nostalgia covered in a metallic layer of face-meltingĀ  goodness. Pieces like “Mega Man 3 (Title Theme)” and “Ninja Gaiden II (Intro)” are well played, musically creative and show sides of the band that are hard to come by given the content. If you are a video game fan and have played these games, you should definitely check this out. If you like metal, definitely check this out and if you like both metal and video games you must own this.