January 19, 2006

The Advantage "Elf-Titled"

Same song, second verse. Last year, the Advantage released their self-titled debut album…of Nintendo game covers. Yes, that’s right. They’re a tribute band to video game music. Sounds insane, doesn’t it? Well, maybe it is, but considering that this project includes madman Spencer Seim of Hella, maybe it’s not so surprising a concept. And, really, they proved something the first time around: that the band is actually good. Once you get past the silly nature of the concept of the record, you’ll quickly discover that these guys love what they do, and there’s no trace of irony to be found.

Music-wise, there’s very little difference between Elf-Titled and The Advantage. The songs are all faithful to the original versions, though the band is more than willing to give the songs a little bit of added spice. For instance, the songs are a bit funkier than the originals, but that’s mainly due to the fact that this is a real band, not some computer programming guy designing synthetic songs on a computer. That being the case, songs like “Mega Man II” and “Castlevania II” are more intense and powerful than before, and that, my friends, is a very good thing. Even more interesting is how groove-oriented the original melodies really were; lost beneath synthetic reproduction, it was hard to quite fully appreciate how rhythmic the “Double Dragon II” theme really was, but The Advantage do so quite wonderfully. That they’re excellent musicians is even better, because a concept like this could easily be ruined by poor musicianship. And, at the very least, you can’t deny the virtuosity found on Elf Titled; all of the songs have fast, smooth guitar playing, not unlike a weird amalgam of Vai, Satriani, and Malmsteen.

There could be a case made that Nintendo music inspired a generation of post-rockers, but I’m too lazy to do so. I have a feeling that the members of The Advantage were teenagers who mixed metal and Slint records with pot and video games. Such being the case, who knew that anti-social teen behavior of the 1990s could produce something so wonderful?

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website: http://www.theadvantageband.com
Label Website: http://www.5rc.com

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