Video game rock opera rocks out

Ben Breier

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

You’d think a record described as being a video game rock-opera would sound niche and novel – something like Luciano Pavarotti belting out crescendos on top of 8-bit bloops and bleeps straight out of late ’80s Nintendo games.

Although The Protomen’s self-titled record is bizarre, it is nothing like the aforementioned, and that is a good thing.

The album slowly builds as the band lays out the story of the Mega Man series. The record’s first track, “Hope Rides Alone,” is loosely structured as the lead singer lays out the beginning of Mega Man’s plot. It’s mediocre at best, and the screaming is half-assed and rather dry.

Halfway through the record, things begin to get interesting. “The Will of One” starts off with a rising guitar and splits up blas‚ narrative vocals with actual singing. The electronica is subtle and a nice homage to the Blue Bomber’s Nintendo heyday – its presence is enough to be noticed, but it doesn’t ruin the song and detract from the rock and roll feel of it.

“The Stand (Man or Machine)” is The Protomen’s attempt at bringing it down to a ballad. After the piano introduction passes, synthesizers kick in and the narrative comes back. It works on one level because it sounds like a rock and roll update to Kraftwerk, but fails on another as soon as you start paying attention to the lyrics. “When you fight / you fight alone?” Come on, give me a break.



Distributed through:

Stater rating (out of five): ***½

In theory, this record could be a nightmare to listen to, but The Protomen pull it off well and end up putting out a record unlike the vast majority of music out there. Although this record isn’t for everybody, those interested in something eccentric and fresh should look into The Protomen.

Contact assistant ALL editor Ben Breier at [email protected].