Dwelling of Duels 10-09 review

This month’s  Dwelling of Duels theme is Game Boy month, featuring old gameboy/GB Color games. Dwelling of Duels, for those not in the know, is a monthly game music contest where entrants submit a song based on the monthly theme. Readers then vote on the songs and the song with the most points wins.

There were only 10 entries this month, some good, some bad. There were also four joke/alt/gag songs. I’ve had a chance to listen to each track a few times, so here’s my thoughts on them. These are in no particular order, except putting the stronger ones and weaker ones into categories.

Studs

The PokeMETALLY – What would a month be without a megamedley? The playing/sound isn’t bad. I’ve never played any of the pokeymans games, so most of this music is relatively unknown to me. It does sound pretty good, but the arrangement leaves something to be desired given that it just moves on into each song without much transition. This is a flaw of most megamedleys and it is pretty hard to escape.

The Victory – Another Pokemon song, and it’s your standard synth metal fare. It sounds good, well produced, but it too is a medley, just shorter than PokeMETALLY. There’s also a lot going on, everything seems to be running at the same volume and some things are missed. It’s still nice to listen to though, so there is that.

Welcome to the Pokesphere – The chiptune it starts out with is all right, but goes on too long, I think, at just one minute. Then the arranged part comes in, with a light piano, guitar, and drum beat. It’s very relaxing to listen to and the piano playing is great. The light guitars play off of it to give a good rhythm contrast. Then a string pluck synth comes in to add another level of texture. During all of this, the chiptune drum track stays in, which does not sound out of place at all. Overall the music does sound very nice, I would have just cut the opening chiptune a bit short.

One Small Step for Aran – Metroid 2 has been criminally underrepresented in the music community and it’s nice to see it show up in a Game Boy month. Once again it’s that prog rock kind of sound. It’s well produced, though the drums get a bit monotonous after a while. Haven’t these guys heard of fills?  I have no other complaints, it’s just nice to listen to.

Droppin’ – The requisite Tetris cover goes a complete 180. I love the horns and what sounds like a ukelele in the background. The drum track overall feels like a laid back accompaniment, which is exactly what this track orders. It comes in at just over the two minute minimum. That’s the only flaw of the song – it’s too short. I really dig this one.

I’d Solar Strike HER –  Another big, flashy production. Not familiar with Solar Striker, but I like the guitar work, and the organ too, even though it could use some more dynamics. The drums have enough reverb on them to not have them sound like the drumkit that they are.

So-Sos

Bunker Half-Pipe – This starts out not so good, and the drums sound like a bad rip of uber-metal drums. Overall, while the second half is better, the whole song just feels a bit off to me.

Geysers of Darkest Shadow – Crunchy guitar tone which I like, but piano sounds flat. The drums sound like every other generic drum track I hear in this thing. The actual guitar playing sounds a bit sloppy near the end with all the meedlies.

In the Bitter Watches of the Night – The guitars have tuning problems, but the tone is decent.

Duds

Sleight of Hand – Blech. No dynamics, bad guitar tone. The drums could do with some extra lift, they sound a bit too sterile.

Alts

All the alts, save for Russian Polka Bicycle song, kinda stink. I mean, it has Russian, accordions… it did make me laugh. The others were unlistenable.

Overall, I’d have to pick Droppin’ as my favorite. It stands out amongst a sea of similar sounding songs and is a refreshing take on what might otherwise be a trite song by now.

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