Vangough – Game On!

Having spent many a childhood afternoon tied to my Super Nintendo with a controller, many of the classic video games I played still bring up great memories. Finding music a greater source of joy in my life not much later on, I still occasionally find myself hooking up the old system to play through Donkey Kong Country, or Super Mario World, and find myself having the same amount of fun as I did when I was little. A band that first came to my attention with a much more serious and in-depth debut, Oklahoma rockers Vangough have decided to make their second album all about revisiting these classic games and making rock covers of their music. While all of the songs here are executed relatively well and even bring up the occasional memory however, it is almost inevitably a huge disappointment, especially coming off the heels of a first album which I found quite impressive.

Being a covers album and tribute to games that frontman Clay Withrow and company have appreciated, there are plenty of recognizable tunes here. Everything in the classic game universe from Sonic The Hedgehog to Donkey Kong and the ‘castle’ level of Super Mario can be heard through the lens of instrumental rock. In terms of performance here, ‘Game On!’ really gives the impression of being a guitar album with artists like Joe Satriani coming to mind. The only instrument here that feels very lively is the lead electric guitar, which really sings. The rest of the instruments here however do feel somewhat lackluster and by-the- numbers, leading to a relatively harmless, but uninspired execution of these songs.

Most of these songs have had the same do-over that other video game metal bands like Power Glove would have done, melodic rock that always has a bit of crunch to it, but never gets really heavy or does anything particularly exciting with it. Some songs (like the ‘Underwater’ Donkey Kong soundtrack that closes the album) feels scarcely different from the original at all in most parts. That being said, the music is generally enjoyable throughout. There is some great dual harmony work from the lead guitar that really seems to mesh with the existing soundtracks.

A decent, if not mediocre rendition of these video game soundtracks, Vangough’s ‘Game On!’ does little to capture the imagination, but it is still an album that’s perfect for any late- night gaming session. A pleasant project in between larger works from this American progressive metal band.


1. Wily’s Castle
2. Marine Fortress
3. Simon’s Revenge
4. Your Darkest Hour
5. The Turtle King’s Lair
6. Green Hill Terror
7. Corneria
8. The Killer Instinct
9. Torvus Bog
10. Coral Capers


* Clay Withrow – vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards
* Brandon Lopez – drums
* Corey Mast – keyboards


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