YouTube VGM cover artist Jack Fliegler, aka ToxicxEternity, is back with another collection of metal covers of video game songs. Pulling from the large number of covers he has put together over the last six months or so, VG Metal Covers Vol. 7 contains twelve tracks from various video games. Much like the last few volumes of Toxic’s covers, the quality is top notch.
Vol. 7 starts off with a great choice of opening track, the opening theme for Final Fantasy VII. The track starts out with the melodic opening bit before transitioning right into a crushing rendition of the “Bombing Mission” theme from the beginning of the game. This part of the song has some really meaty, heavy rhythm riffs that really makes it chug along and feel so much more intense than the original.
This covers collection also features two other Final Fantasy tracks, “The Last Battle” from Final Fantasy V and the battle theme from Final Fantasy VI. These two covers put a big focus on melodic lead guitars with lots of harmonization. Toxic’s lead playing is one of his strong suits, and it really shows in these tracks. Listening to the Final Fantasy VI track in particular, there is a definite symphonic metal flair to it with orchestral bits thrown in to give it a distinct feel from the rest of the tracks of the album.
Moving on, there are also a couple of Mega Man covers on Vol. 7, “Surge of Power” from Mega Man Battle Network 6 and “Falling Down” from Mega Man Zero 4. Much like the two previously mentioned Final Fantasy tracks, these covers show off Toxic’s lead playing. However, these ones have quite a bit of shredding on them, and it sounds great.
Before we get to the game primarily featured on this album, there are two more covers to mention. First off is a wonderful rendition of the log-in screen music from World of Warcraft. This is another track where Toxic’s lead playing stands out. It is jam-packed with amazing harmonized dual lead melodies reminiscent of something you might find in an Iron Maiden song.
The other track is one of my personal favorites off the album, a combo cover of the Victory Road and champion themes from the first generation Pokemon games. The track obviously opens up with the Victory Road theme, and it gradually builds up as Victory Road themes from later games in the series tended to do. Then it dives right into the battle theme for Champion Blue, which is one of the champion themes that doesn’t get covered nearly enough. Toward the end of the song, Toxic drops a heavy breakdown, then reprises the Victory Road theme on top of it and it sounds amazing.
Given the game’s wide appeal with VGM cover artists, it comes as no surprise that five of the twelve covers on Vol. 7 are songs from Undertale. Each Undertale cover has its own unique feel and is a unique take on the original track. The “Waterfall” cover captures the dark, emotional feel of the original while dialing the heaviness up. There is just so much power and energy in this cover and it really stands out as one of the best covers of the song out there.
The “Battle Against a True Hero” cover is a rockin’ track with some fantastic, yet simplistic lead playing, and some cool effects in the background. There’s nothing too crazy here, but it is a solid headbanger all the way through. In a similar vein, the “Megalovania” cover is pretty straightforward as well. It stays pretty close to the original theme with a simple, no-frills metal approach, but there is a cool moment where the bass gets cranked up nice and loud in what could almost be a bass solo. There is also a cool little guitar solo thrown in for good measure.
With the “Heartache” cover, Toxic takes the complete opposite approach, picking the different pieces of the song apart and rearranging and layering them in different ways. When the song first starts up, you may not even immediately recognize that it is “Heartache.” This song is just filled with so many awesome layers of guitar riffs, harmonies, sweeps, and shreds, and it definitely stands out as one of the most unique takes on the song.
Finally, Vol. 7 concludes with what is probably my favorite song on the album, a fun, bouncy, melodic cover of “Dogsong.” It’s just an enjoyable listen all the way through and I can’t help but smile listening to the main melody. There are two guitar solos in this cover, one is by Toxic himself and the other is a guest shred from fellow VGM cover artist RichaadEB, who you might recognize as one of the guys responsible for the official Undertale cover album, Determination.
As with the past few volumes of ToxicxEternity’s covers, every track on Vol. 7 is very high quality in terms of musicianship. The rhythm riffs have a real tight groove to them and the lead melodies and harmonies are sharp and clean. One thing I will say, though, is that the bass stands out a bit more than on previous releases. Instead of just following all with the rhythm guitars, there are some moments where Toxic does something different, most notably on the “Megalovania” cover. Even though the drums are all programmed, I have to say that the arrangements are great. There’s more simplistic arrangements for some of the slower or more simplistic covers, machine gun double bass moments, and plenty of more technical arrangements. And, of course, the production quality on everything sounds great and really helps Toxic stand out amongst a sea of VGM cover artists doing metal covers.
There’s nothing to complain about with this collection of covers. The selection of games and series represented is a bit limited compared some of Toxic’s past albums, but all the covers are so good that it doesn’t really matter. As with past volumes, if you’re a gamer who also likes rock and/or metal music, VG Metal Covers Vol. 7 is definitely worth a listen. But if those genres aren’t something you enjoy, this might not be the album for you.
VG Metal Covers Vol. 7 is currently only available for purchase on Loudr, but it will be available soon on iTunes and Spotify. You can also stream these songs on Toxic’s bandcamp page in the “Newest Covers” section and you can find the playthrough videos on his YouTube channel. If you like what you hear, be sure to check out my interview with him last year over on Talk Amongst Yourselves and my review of VG Metal Covers Vol. 5.