Album Review: Vetivs | Metal Reimagining: Inspiration, Vol 1
The gaming composer and production virtuoso, Vetivs (Veh-tee-us) has created another project that music lovers and gamers alike can fully immerse themselves into. The first “Metal Reimagining” collection takes popular game scores and twists them into an alternate reality created for the raging fans of heavy metal. Bouncing from a Disney lover’s wet dream in the Kingdom Hearts Series to the classic Zelda universe and beyond, Vetivs successfully converts some classic ballads into very high impact musical compositions. Now, being a huge metal fan is not a prerequisite to enjoy this project, but it may allow you to enjoy it that much more.
Let’s dive in!
Scores of Production:
In diving into this project, it was important for me to listen front to back before going on a hunt for the original scores that inspired it. I would recommend the same for any first time listener of the album. This allows for the consumer to form a competent opinion of the music as a whole instead of focusing on if it lived up to it’s original counterparts or not. The first time through, I mainly listened for how well the metal production morphed in with the recreated soundscapes and music bed. Vetivs’s riveting guitar solos and driving 16th note deliveries meshed very well with the music bed for the entirety of the project. The metal elements blended well enough that to an untrained ear without context, it would be very easy to accept the remakes as the original pieces.
After my first run of the project, the hunt was on for the original scores that inspired this collection. At this point, I’d like to give a solid shout out to Youtube for coming in clutch in my search. Not to my surprise, a majority of the instrumentation used by Vetivs to recreate the many soundscapes and melodies were almost identical to the originals. Any discrepancies found in the production were not obvious enough to detach from the vibes the original sounds achieved.
Production Score: 3.8/5
Into The Mix:
Mix-wise, the project sounded really smooth overall. The relationship between the melodic and the percussive instruments were fairly even across the album. Sounds used to simulate the originals kept the mixes sounding really open and spaced out from the added metal elements. This is probably why I could imagine myself deep in the gameplay of an open world environment throughout the record. The electric guitars were mixed to keep the energy high and driving forward while placed appropriately for my ears. Shredding solos stood out and were often widened in the sound field while the supporting mids and lows were tucked into the mix merely to ensure the metal approach was captured and felt. Drums and percussive elements were consistently mixed in the pocket for every record, compressed to be punchy and spread appropriately throughout the stereo field. The sheer movement of the tom runs and the placement of cymbal crashes felt as though I was hearing some of the records performed live. That’s what great mixing does!
The good thing about composing for games is that they rarely have vocal tracks in them. Mixing is difficult enough without having the carve someones vocals into the equation. This being the case, there was plenty of room left for strings, pianos, synths and shredding guitar leads to be ever present throughout the album. Mixing is the process that gives energy and life to the production. In my opinion, Vetivs had some great engineering done on this project because the mix is absolutely solid from top to bottom.
Mixing Score: 4.6/5
A Mastered Experience:
Having been on both ends of the mastering process, there’s one thing that I look for when critiquing a mastered record or project..
Can I listen to this project from top to bottom and it sound cohesive all the way through?
For this album, I can confidently say yes. The lows sound punchy and consistent from record to record and the highs resonate the same in my ears as I cycle through tracks. There’s a constant experience created going from track to track which always tickles my insides when done well. The listener is easily submerged into this project and whether you’re looking to do your homework, workout, go on a lengthy drive or just play video games, you’ll have zero issues being able to listen to this project from front to back. By definition, this album is cohesive from top to bottom, which is even more impressive knowing the project was inspired by 9 different gaming franchises.
Master Score: 4/5
The solidarity of this project is a strong testament to Vetivs’s talent and dedication to his craft. By combining the gaming world and the world of heavy metal, he’s successfully delivered an alternate reality to listeners and future fans. His thoughtful production in tandem with a quality mix and master allowed for this album to resonate well. I feel confident that curators in the gaming industry will listen to this collection and feel inspired in some capacity to work with this budding composer.