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Contra 4: Rocked ‘n’ Loaded – “Balls of Steel” (arr. Norg)

March 21, 2010

My review of Contra 4: Rocked ‘n’ Loaded just ran on Gametunes.net. This album is total rockout, and it’s seriously f-n awesome. The Rocked ‘n’ Loaded guys have uploaded a couple demo tracks from the album (very good ones, but not the best on the album, of course!). So today’s Daily is my favorite of the two, “Balls of Steel”, the Factory stage theme.

Contra 4: Rocked ‘n’ Loaded – “Balls of Steel” (arr. Norg)

“Balls of Steel” has a pretty amazing synth beat here. Because Norg plays keyboard, the track is heavily keyboard-driven, using rock guitars more for support. The keyboard sound actually feels quite a bit like Akira Yamaoka’s work in Shin Contra. I think because of this, it sounds a bit different from the other tracks in the album, but still feels like it’s part of it. Overall, the track has a sense of desperation of the battle of man against machine, things made to serve man that have now gotten out of his control. The main theme jumps in at 1:00, running into a nice synth break at 1:33; this is probably what 80s synth rock would have sounded like if they’d had the keyboards of today. If you listen carefully, there’s also some great mechanical percussion at 1:45, sounding like robot joints clinking. Halfway through the track (about 2:28), Norg mixes in some fantastic industrial percussion here with buzz saws, whirring servos, and clanking machines straight out of a Terminator factory.
The original track seems completely new (or at least I can’t place it…), but the composition feels like it would fit perfectly into Contra 3: The Alien Wars (aka Contra Spirits, 1992). Amazing instrumentation throughout, and Jake Kaufman’s original composition gains so much through this arrangement. The album art is pretty cool too – using instruments to blow the crap out of space aliens is something that I think would work really well in a game. Kind of like this video. (Yes, in the Dark Ages, Vikings raided and pillaged with the power of Norse and Danish metal). Anyway, you definitely don’t want to miss the album, so go get it!

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