Breaking the Box with 'AHlbum 1'

Breaking the Box with 'AHlbum 1'

Allen gives his take on a video game cover album by AHmusic.

If you’re expecting me to make a pun during this review (ahmazing, ahwesome, etc.), I’m sorry to say that you’re going to be disappointed. It’s not that I take myself too seriously to make a pun, and judging from his videos on Youtube, Alejandro aka AHmusic doesn’t take himself too seriously either. No, making a pun would feel lazy, and that’s the last word that I would use to describe Alejandro.

Before I dive into more detail, perhaps this would be a good time to talk about the audience for an album like this. Compilation albums are a hard sell, especially when tracks originate from a variety of video games. In this case, that variety is perhaps the biggest selling point for ‘AHlbum 1.’ Sure, you can boil these songs down to “metal covers” of video game music but that’s doing the music a massive disservice. The real selling point of this album is AHmusic.

AHmusic wears many hats on this album (arranger, mastering engineer, musician, etc.), and he excels at whatever he touches. In fact, he has a professional website (https://www.ah-music.com/) where I’ve made a testimonial about his mastering services. Suffice it to say, I was extremely happy with his services. Nevertheless, sound quality is only one piece of the puzzle, and there’s oh so many other pieces to this album.

Look no further than a track like “Your Best Nightmare” to see Alejandro’s full skillset on display. The riffs go hard, tempo changes abound, and the sheer variety of sounds that Alejandro uses is enough to make a foley artist jealous. There’s not only technical proficiency in Alejandro’s performance, there’s passion, restraint, and most of all creativity. After all, this is the guy who made Goron noises out of a Burger King straw (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkSUAPo88JA).

Have I mentioned Alejandro’s skills as a musician yet? Some of the album highlights for me were his quieter moments: the Spanish guitar in “Pokey Means Business,” the rambling bassline in “Unsettling Enemy”, and the spacey vibes of “Coffee Break”. Tracks like “The Defender” show that Alejandro isn’t afraid to display his more aggressive side, even featuring harsh vocals from BillytheBard11th on “Crypteque.” Alejandro is joined by plenty of other musicians on this album (I won’t list their names here, but you can take a look for yourself http://vgmdb.net/album/63838). These musicians help to ensure that each track is a worthwhile journey on its own; however a few of the journeys (“Lil Slugger” and “Innermost Apocalypse”) didn’t quite grab me as much as the others. Additionally, as with most compilation albums, album cohesion varies from track to track. However, these are small nitpicks when talking about the album as a whole, and I encourage everyone with an open mind to experience the music for themselves.

‘AHlbum 1’ is a “metal cover” album like Radiohead is a “rock band.” We use genres to confine music, to put it into a neat little box so that we can say, “I like this thing, but not that.” Alejandro takes that box and smashes it into smithereens, instead allowing the music to go wherever the fuck it wants to go. To that, I say Ahmen! (sorry, I had to make one pun).

The full album can be heard here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98r4k0ZlQxU

Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, Allen Brasch is an aspiring writer who loves good science fiction, fantasy, and horror. When Allen's not writing or gaming, he's talking about all things geeky on his podcast, Devil May Play.