Stemage – Where Good Marbles Go To Die

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Stemage
Where Good Marbles Go to Die (Marble Madness)

I write this review in the knowledge that a lot of you won’t have heard of the guitarist by the name of Stemage, so a brief introduction may be necessary. Long time followers may remember me briefly getting excited about Metroid Metal, a band that covers Metroid various tunes from the series’ soundtrack and turns them into awesome metal songs. I posted a full set of them because they’re that awesome. Anywho, Stemage is an excellent guitarist in his own right, often going off on video game endeavours such as providing the soundtrack for Xbox Live Arcade title ‘Alpha Squad’ and engaging in his own solo venture on last year’s ‘Zero Over Zero’ album.

Still, not content with beefing up the classic Metroid soundtrack, Stemage has gone one further with a tribute to one of the cult games of yesteryear: Marble Madness. This game took up many an hour of my childhood years when my parents bought it for the NES we owned, and I can proudly say I completed it. Once. Gaming achievements aside, when ‘Where Good Marbles Go to Die (Marble Madness)’ was brought to my attention, so was that undeniable nostalgia. This is a tip of the hat to that halcyon days of gaming and indeed to a game that was noted for its soundtrack all the time.

Marble Madness (Arcade) Music

Marble Madness had six levels, so ‘Where Good Marbles Go to Die’ features seven tracks, taking into account the high score screen’s theme tune. Each track has a different flow to it with its shiny new arrangement and a different guest for each track – ‘60’, the opening song, isn’t too dissimilar to The Who’s ‘Teenage Wasteland’ in its rockier guise, ‘Pipe Dream’ brings together the rare collaboration of electric guitar and flute. Its faithful to the original soundtrack thus far, but at this point the album doesn’t feel like it’s gotten going yet.

The album continues faithfully along its course, when you’re suddenly smacked upside the face by a metal-friendly cover of the game’s fifth level soundtrack, known here as ‘Ballbusting Wallbird’, in an effort not dissimilar to Between the Buried and Me’s recent efforts. The original is like a Greek zorba dance, speeding up as it goes along. Stemage and Kirby Pufocia goes absolutely nuts with this. It’s ultra heavy and almost unexpected, even as a Stemage fan. It really sets the tone for the remainder, which by the end feels like a party you can jive your backside to.

I fully appreciate to the everyday metal fan that this album, and the majority of all other work of this sort before and after it, will always seem a novelty and indeed, if you never played Marble Madness, the nostalgic value could well fly right over your heads. That said, Stemage is proving to be a versatile and wild guitarist and just as YouTubers everywhere are turning metal classics into 8-bit form, his remixes are worthy of recognition for bringing chiptune into rock and metal form. And if you do happen to remember Marble Madness, well – this is dreamland.

Peter Clegg

Buy/download ‘Where Good Marbles Go to Die (Marble Madness)’ here (name-your-price)

Stream it below:

Official site
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