THWOMP Album Review: Hey! Listen!

THWOMP's sophomore album, which features beloved Nintendo® video game themes, including The Legend of Zelda series, Double Dragon II and FFVII is reviewed.

Nintendo® cover band THWOMP released its sophomore album on April 27, 2012. Entitled Hey! Listen!, the album boasts 15 tracks, a musical treat for gamers of all ages.

THWOMP is a five-piece progressive "prog" rock band based in Calgary, Alberta. It is comprised of Brad Stanton (bass), Colin Mitchell (lead guitar), Dan Bronson (guitar), Scott Moffat (drums) and David Marshall (keyboards).

Founded in 2001 by Brad Stanton and former band member Scott Munro, THWOMP performs regularly at conventions across Western Canada. Last month, the band performed at the Calgary Comic Expo, where Hey! Listen! was unveiled.

THWOMP released its debut album, Knight League EP in 2010. The eight-track Nintendo® CD featured the band's arrangements from the classic Super Nintendo® racing game F-Zero.

Hey! Listen! is the group's first full-length album. Transcription was done by Brad Stanton, Kirk McVean and David Marshall. All members of THWOMP were involved with writing the band arrangements on the album.

Hey! Listen Highlights

The “Dungeon Theme” from The Legend of Zelda sets the tone for a nostalgic journey back in time. The opening is truly a gem, best appreciated live. "The beginning of the 'Zelda - Dungeon Theme' is actually two guitars, one playing 8th notes, the other playing off-beat 16ths," explained David Marshall in recent correspondence. "The neatest part about it is that it sounds like one guitar. It's an especially cool effect live, coming off the stage in stereo."

They are soon joined by the drums. Layer upon layer is added until the main dungeon theme appears played on the keyboards. As the theme loops, it builds in intensity, gradually leading the listener down musical depths before coming to slow mournful conclusion on solo guitar.

THWOMP's version of the “J-E-N-O-V-A” theme is edgier than it is in Final Fantasy VII. The keyboards, playing it as it appears in the game, but the guitars are quickly given the theme. They circle around and clash as if in battle, playing against the backdrop of a relentless rock groove on percussion.

“Fever” from Dr. Mario is a catchy and “feel good” track. The opening theme is first played by the keyboards (set for full nostalgic effect). The drums lay a catchy groove that is bound to set toes tapping and heads bopping long before the guitars take over the melody. THWOMP really shows how effective rests can be. Although they are in the original theme, the silences in THWOMP's arrangement are especially crisp. Indeed, they are long enough to elicit chuckles or squeals of excitement or delight from listeners.

The band vamps a bit, building the excitement before launching full-on into the “Korobeiniki” theme from Tetris. The guitars play the opening theme, while the keyboards provide an effective contrast with the the second theme. There's enough time in the interlude for listeners to mimic falling Tetris pieces before the main themes return in full force.

A little bit of disco shuffle merged with solid 80's rock grooves come together for the “Double Dragon II Theme”. The guitars belt out the main themes while the keyboards provide the requisite video game sound FX. One could easily imagine character Billy Lee taking down a street full of baddies to this rendition.

Listeners can truly rock out with the Star Fox “Attack Carrier” theme. The guitars weave around like Fox McCloud's Arwing, soaring against the driving beat laid down by the drums. The keyboards have some cool licks too.

Hey! Listen! Track Listing

  1. The Legend of Zelda – Dungeon
  2. A Link to the Past - Dark World
  3. The Adventure of Link - Minor Battle
  4. The Adventure of Link - Palace
  5. Final Fantasy VII – J-E-N-O-V-A
  6. Final Fantasy VII - Under the Rotting Pizza
  7. Final Fantasy VII - Still More Fighting
  8. Dr. Mario – Fever
  9. Tetris – Korobeiniki
  10. Double Dragon II - Theme
  11. Double Dragon II - At the Heliport
  12. Star Fox - Corneria
  13. Star Fox - Attack Carrier
  14. Star Fox - Course Clear
  15. Star Fox - Space Armada

Label: Bandcamp

Release Date: April 27, 2012

Price: $4.99 CAD

Hey! Listen! Verdict

At 15 tracks, it may seem at first glance that Hey! Listen! is far too long, but that is not the case. Video game themes, by the nature of the scenes, are fairly short. The album contains 36 minutes worth of musical adventure.

THWOMP delivers these classic video game themes ably and serves them up with a bit of spice. At times sexy, sometimes humorous, but always cool and fun, Hey! Listen! provides retro-gamers with a solid collection of themes to indulge in a bit of nostalgia. This video game CD also introduces a younger generation of gamers and music fans to a fun era of video game music.

Hey! Listen! Is available through Bandcamp. Video game music download formats include MP3 320, FLAC, as well as other audio types. Stay tuned for their Suite101.com interview, which will be republished here.