8-bit metal: Castlevanian Hunger


Speaking of “Conquer All”, I just stumbled across the 8-bit version of it on YouTube – as well as 8-bit versions of practically every other metal song ever made. 8-bit metal was probably hot, like, two years ago, but I really don’t spend time on YouTube unless I’m researching for a post (or procrastinating from writing one – then it’s Hair Nation up in here.) I’m astounded at what people are 8-bitting: Beherit, Celtic Frost, The Black Dahlia Murder’s entire catalogue. Not everything sounds good in 8-bit (though 8-bit does improve a lot of music).

Here are my findings about 8-bit metal:

1. Melodic stuff works better than atonal stuff in 8-bit.
2. Double bass drums sound awesome in 8-bit.
3. Tom fills sound awesome in 8-bit.
4. Every Burzum song sounds good in 8-bit.
5. Every guitar solo sounds like Dream Theater’s keyboardist in 8-bit.

Armed with this knowledge, I present some 8-bit metal wonders to brighten your day. I avoided the most obvious choices – Metallica and Slayer – because they were the most obvious choices.

— Cosmo Lee

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Behemoth – “Conquer All” (8-bit)

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8-bit versions of songs are like acoustic versions in that they expose the strength of the songwriting. Good songs come across in any setting (except for maybe the pop dance remix). They have strong melodies, strong rhythms, and strong movement over time. This song is like Super Mario roided up on the invincibility star forever.

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Carcass – “Heartwork” (8-bit)

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This is the tightest Carcass has ever played. Ken Owen has been woodshedding and is now like an atomic clock. Carcass clearly has a long career ahead full of brutal, challenging death metal.

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Dark Tranquillity – Lost to Apathy” (8-bit)

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“Punish My Heaven” would be the obvious choice for Dark Tranquillity, but “Lost to Apathy” sounds better in 8-bit. Be careful – the clip is a bit loud. (Even 8-bit metal has over-compressed mastering [sigh].) The ascending verse riff is just like the part in Contra where you lie down and shoot at targets while land mines roll toward you. (At least I think so; it’s been a while since I played Contra.)

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Death – “Crystal Mountain” (8-bit)

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It’s a given that a song called “Crystal Mountain” will sound killer in 8-bit. There should be a Death-themed video game where every level is based on a different Death album, in chronological order. I think that would be awesome. I also think that ideas like this are why I do not work in the gaming industry.

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Judas Priest – “Painkiller” (8-bit)

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Why is Dimebag Darrell the graphic for this clip??? Unfortunately, 8-bit cannot convey the awesomeness of Rob Halford’s voice. But it can convey some awesome 6-string shredding. In fact, the song’s solos and tempo are exactly like the soundtrack to a bitchin’ motorcycle game called Road Rash (anyone remember that?). OK, that was Sega Genesis and thus 16-bit, but it’s really not that different.

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Megadeth – “Hangar 18″ (8-bit)

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Holy balls is this shredding. Those solo trade-offs at the end are scorching.

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Darkthrone – “Transilvanian Hunger” (8-bit)

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Of course, this is Darkthrone’s song, not Mayhem’s. There’s a more faithful 8-bit version out there of this song, but this one is such a brilliant parody of terrible, lo-fi black metal that it had me practically in tears. Laughing, that is, unlike the many bands I’ve heard live that actually sound like this. They drove me to tears for other reasons.

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Got any other good 8-bit metal to share?