The Advantage The Advantage

[5RC; 2004]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: math rock, soundtrack
Others: Trans Am, The Fucking Champs, Mario Bros. 3, Hella, Mr. Bungle

I don't know if The Advantage are just goofing around or trying to achieve something more, but they definitely fit into the "something more" category. On paper, the idea of a Nintendo cover band seems funny, if not a bit ridiculous, but when executed by these four gentlemen, the results are more than anyone could have expected.

Some people may just write The Advantage off as a novelty nostalgia act, but before you're even through with the first listen of their debut disc, you'll realize that there's more too them than just the novelty of the whole project. In the hands of the members of The Advantage (who are also members of the bands Generic and Hella), these songs quickly shake off the nostalgia and take on a life of their own.

In the context of a live band, what appears to be just simple video game music transforms into something infinitely more complex. The intricacies of songs like "Ninja Gaiden - Mine Shaft" and "Goonies 2" rivals almost anything "math rock" and other similar genres produced in their heyday, and the end of "Castlevania 3 - Epitaph," even in its brief minute, easily challenges some of the best noise artists of today. Even the songs' subtle stylistic characteristics come out, like on the reggae-tinged "Bomberman 2" and the almost-metal of "Metal Gear - Jungle" and "Contra - Boss Music".

The Advantage prove that, as dumb as it may sound, that the video game music of the late '80s and early '90s was far more ahead of its time than anyone thought. But it's easy to overlook the ingenuity of these songs while you're busy trying to dodge enemies and gobbling up magic mushrooms.

1. Megaman 2 - Flashman
2. Double Dragon 2 - Stage 2
3. Goonies 2
4. Bubble Bobble
5. Bubble Bobble - Shark Skeleton
6. Wizards and Warriors - Intro
7. Bomberman 2
8. Bionic Commando - P.O.W. Camp
9. Super Mario Bros. 2 - Underworld
10. Super Mario Bros. 2 - Overworld
11. Contra - Snowfields
12. Zelda - Fortress
13. Batman 2
14. Megaman 3 - Dr. Wiley Stage
15. Double Dragon 2 (Story, and Boss Music)
16. Castlevania 3 - Epitaph
17. Ninja Gaiden - Mine Shaft
18. Mario 3 - Underworld
19. Blastermaster - Stage 2
20. Ghosts `n' Goblins - Intro
21. Ghosts `n' Goblins
22. Castlevania - Stage 3
23. Marble Madness
24. Metal Gear - Jungle
25. Contra - Boss Music
26. Castlevania 3 - Evergreen