ANDY GILLION - Arcade Metal
Album: Arcade Metal
Genre: Instrumental progmetal
Release Date: September 3rd, 2022
Once upon a time there was a little prog-princess, enjoying her music preferably with expressive vocals. But one day she got mesmerized by a guitar wizard’s brilliant instrumental fairy tale and his way to tell a story musically without words, which also opened a wonderful, new field for her listening pleasure. As you will have guessed, she kept an eye on the maestro’s work since then, and Andy Gillion’s recent announcement of a follow-up for the magical “Neverafter” left her with high anticipation. The new album is called “Arcade Metal”, will be out on September 3rd, 2022, and also features the incredible 66Samus on drums as well as several illustrious guests, who were introduced earlier during a guessing game.
The detailed, neon-colored cover artwork invites the listener to dive into a world of guitar shred and 80s nostalgia. Music-wise we enter the Arcade with the fitting tone, which is set by none other than video game composer Yuzo Koshiro, who contributes the first guest part and transports us back to the golden age of chip-tune. With “Insert Coin”, we’re already deep into game mode, and the background sound-effects work like a time machine. Nevertheless, the focus is clearly on the outstanding guitar playing, also delivering the one or other challenging duel with the keyboards.
During “1988”, things get heavier and more powerful. Andy leads us through the song with a wonderful melodic theme, and we can hear a mind-blowing solo by the 16-year-old Japanese prodigy Li-sa-X. A gong takes us to “Tokyo Street Massacre”, and while the rhythm guitar and synths build a dark, mighty basis, the lead guitar flies over it in a virtuosic way. This time, the guest is Matt Heafy, who nailed his recording during a live stream. A short “Level Complete” jingle sends a friendly reminder that we’re still into a video game, followed by the catchy “Glitch”. Even though the music is multi-layered and very complex, the song comes along accessible and could easily be used as an 80s series soundtrack. “Damn You Water Level!” starts kind of sparkling, and the dreamy soundscapes give the guitar space to expand in wonderful virtuosity, with Stephen Taranto overtaking the solo part.
“Invincible” is another short interlude, before we go on a “Megadrive”. The music paints the picture of a luscious cityscape, and the incredibly smooth playing over the synth rhythms makes it a chilled ride, with Paul Wardingham as special guest on board. “Enter the Castle” was the first single released a while ago, and caught me at once with its powerful rhythmic and the marvelous, soaring lead guitar, which gets company by some keyboard wizardry. As the title suggests, “Final Boss” offers an epic showdown, coming along with furious keyboard and guitar runs, and Per Nilsson delivering the climax for our journey, before it’s called “GAME OVER”. The last two tracks slow down tempo, but leave us with more mesmerizing guitar performances and a thoughtful feeling, inviting to reflect a bit on the past and what the future might bring.
“Arcade Metal” is an instrumental love letter to the 80s and their video game soundtracks. The conceptual idea is consistent, from the cover art over the background sounds and cheeky interludes to the track-list. This album is brighter in tone as its predecessor, which fits to the theme, and the different sounds might bring back memories for gaming as well as 80s fans. But with all nostalgic and playful vibes, this record is modern shredding at its finest, multi-layered in its compositions, masterfully performed and well produced. Another important point is Andy Gillion’s incredible sense for melody, since it’s always in the spot-light no matter how progressive or complex the song might be, which makes his music accessible at first listen, but also keeps it interesting while diving deeper into it.
So how about you - Will you press play and join this journey?
Written by Katha
Andy Gillion - Guitar, Keyboards, Programming
66Samus - Drums
Guests musicians: Yuzo Koshiro, Li-sa-X, Matt Heafy, Stephen Taranto, Paul Wardingham, Jeff Loomis, Per Nilsson
1. In the Arcade
2. Insert Coin
4. Tokyo Street Massacre
5. Level Complete
7. Damn You, Water Level!
10. Enter the Castle
11. Final Boss
12. GAME OVER