There was exciting news from That Authoring Group this week, with a group of high profile bands coming down the pipeline. From a Minecraft related novelty song to some well-known RBN supporters on the PS3, this week was up to a high standard as usual. The choices are a little leftfield but there’s always something worthwhile to pick up on the Rock Band Network.
Xbox 360: Minotaur Project – Rampage of Kronos
A stunning piece of composition, Rampage of Kronos could be the soundtrack to a hard-edged sci-fi film (perhaps starring Jason Statham?) There are moments of oppressive noise, retro-tinged synths and some expert basslines – thanks to Minotaur Project founder Matt Gabnai being a bassist himself. With so much technical variation crammed into six minutes, there genuinely is something for every instrument (except vocals) – as long as you can bring the right set of skills.
Explosive is the word when it comes to the song. Drummer Matt Hekker pulls of some insane rhythms during the six minute odyssey. There are some really satisfying parts where the rhythm is complex but just about achievable but more than once you might hit against a particularly devious pattern. Guitar is rather more achievable, thanks largely to some slower chord sections. There are still some finger-wrangling parts scattered throughout – every so often there’ll be a new HOPO pattern to throw you off.
The bass part is expertly charted and actually one of the first instruments to get a solo (a mood-building piece during a build-up). As you round the fourth minute of the song things become truly demonic. The keys part is hard throughout but the synths at this mark will need as much concentration as you can afford. There are many moments where the separate parts feel like they may come apart from one another, throwing the track into confusion but it always retains the cohesion that makes for the best prog metal tracks.
For 80MSP, those looking for an instrumental to put them through their paces would be served well by Rampage of Kronos. It’s an infernal sounding song that keeps you enraptured throughout.
Sounds like: Prog metal with a touch of sci-fi (isn’t that all prog metal?)
Perfect for: Keys, bassists, drummers
Playstation 3: Ghost Brigade – Clawmaster
Another track from the TAG stable, Clawmaster joins Into the Black Light as Ghost Brigade hits the Playstation Network. I must confess, I’m not a fan of vocals that are shouted or screamed but, in certain cases, they can really help a song achieve an atmosphere. Clawmaster is one such song, with the ‘Cookie Monster’ vocals working well with the dark, brooding sung parts.
A lengthy song, Ghost Brigade sound a little like a slower Opeth – harsh, demonic parts set against slow tempo melodic death metal. Hailing from Finland, Ghost Brigade work well as a companion piece to Opeth’s Ghost of Perdition but, with the chugging tempo, would suit those looking for something a little less difficult.
Vocals are stunning – grab a friend who smokes 60-a-day to handle the growled harmony – with long, resonant notes that allow for a little theatricality. The extended notes also make it easier to hit the sung harmonies, allowing you to lock in to the right pitch. Guitar and bass can fall into the autopilot monotony that sometimes afflicts certain metal songs, but the guitar part is spruced up by a tricky hammer-on pattern that occurs a few times. There is also a wide selection of chords to master, including the dreaded green-orange duo. Drums aren’t too difficult – again, the slow tempo makes for a lot of easy to hit kicks and crashes – but the atmosphere really encourages the rhythm. Keys are understated and involve a lot of sustained notes but it’s always good to see that every detail is charted, even instruments without a great deal to do.
If you enjoyed some of the newer Alice In Chains songs available (ie. Check My Brain) or other bands from the same region, then Ghost Brigade could slot in to your RB library with ease. Again, the song is half price – for the length it’s a bargain!
Sounds like: Opeth, non-symphonic power metal from Finland
Perfect for: Schizophrenically-voiced singers, drummers
Throwback Track: The Kimberly Trip – California
A suggestion from one of our commenters – keep the recommendations coming in, people – California is a song surprisingly not glorifying how awesome it is to live on the West Coast. It’s actually a spiky, clever song with a punk sound.
Being a retro track, there aren’t any harmonies which is a shame given the wonderful singing during the chorus. Verses are quick and emphatic compared to the choruses which have a greater range. The bridge of the song even strips away the instruments, allowing the singer a greater spotlight moment than usual. Drums are a selection of typical rock and punk beats, peppered with some interesting and achievable fills especially as the song nears its end.
Guitar shows its hand from the off, with HOPOs, quick chord changes and triple-chords making full use of the fretboard. Bass lies more on the traditional side of things, acting as root notes with a good amount of alt-strumming required. However, if a song plays around with dynamics and has such an infectious amount of energy then no instrument is boring, as is the case with California.
Being RBN1.0 there may be some issues regarding Pro notes on drums but, for a kick-ass song with a female vocalist, Kimberly Trip deserve a mention!
Sounds like: Pop punk with a great vocalist
Perfect for: Singers, guitarists, drummers
We’ll be back next week with even more RBN awesomesauce. Keep your recommendations coming in!