Album Review: Mega Drive - Sequencer (Guest Review by Wraithwalker)
So this is something pretty special, we have a review for the brand new album by Synthwave/Cyberpunk legends Mega Drive, written by the one and only Wraithwalker! While us here on the Synthpocalypse team have been under A LOT of external work lately (which is why content here has slowed to a crawl unfortunately), but without further adieu, Here is Wraithwalker's review of Mega Drive's new album, "Sequencer"
I don’t normally write album reviews, but this newest release from Mega Drive is literally and figuratively exceptional. After listening to it twice in a row, I feel compelled to impart my opinion on it.
I adore Mega Drive. I’ve been following him for years now, and Wraithwalker would not have existed without his influence. I have immense respect for him as an artist, and I am completely enamored with his ability to continually innovate, experiment, and push boundaries within his own unique musical style. This new album “Sequencer” was dropped seemingly out of nowhere, with only a sparse teaser posted here or there months before, and the single track “Blood Grip” leading the charge just two weeks ago. I also have tremendous respect for this. Mega Drive releases tend to fly under the radar unless you really pay close attention to his social media feeds, and the sudden appearance of new music is always a delightful surprise. I couldn’t help but grin when I saw this new album posted to Bandcamp the other day.
After “199XAD,” I didn’t really know what to expect from Mega Drive next. I was not a tremendous fan of that album, as I felt it was somewhat stylistically regressive and a tad uninspired, not to mention the association with a label whose business acumen I find most disagreeable. Not only did the sudden release of this album surprise me, but the sound… Good lord, the sound.
“Sequencer” is fucking terrifying.
It’s a continuation of the sound we last heard on the EP “Encoder,” a far cry from most Synthwave and Darksynth being made in the present day. “Sequencer” is, ironically, much more 90s in essence than 199XAD, drawing heavy influence from industrial and EBM sounds, tonally dark and wildly aggressive. The whole album feels like a computer generated nightmare, spiraling out of control and dragging the listener down with it. It continually builds up intensity until it hits a breaking point, at which point it reboots, then begins to corrupt all over again – which I have to say is a genius concept for an album progression, and it’s executed perfectly here. There’s plenty of crisp percussion patterns, intense growling bass, and the iconic arpeggios that Mega Drive has become famous for. I also have to specifically note the usage of sound effects and vocal samples, especially on tracks like “Degenerator,” “Ozma,” and “discreaderror” where they really shine.
One of the standout moments for me was on track 5 “Terminal Birth,” wherein an all-out assault on the listener by a staccato bassline and frenetic drum beat seamlessly transitions into this bizarre vapor-like passage. We’ve seen Mega Drive flirt with vapor genre stylings in the past on tracks like “In Dreams” off of 2017’s “Seas of Infinity,” but this one truly comes out of the left field and makes for a fantastic addition to a track that’s already pushing everything to the limit.
It’s hard for me to pick my favorite tracks off of this because they’re all flat-out amazing, but I would say my #1 is either “Blood Grip” or “Terminal Birth.” The weakest point during the album that I have to criticize is “The Compiler II – Execute” which somewhat overstays its welcome and meanders about aimlessly, although I enjoy the contrast of the more natural sounding percussion samples which distinguish it from the metallic fury of the other tracks. The “Compiler” trilogy is a fascinating experiment on its own, and once again, I laud Mega Drive upon the very notion of attempting to do something unorthodox in a genre that is often criticized for being too homogeneous.
All in all, “Sequencer” is heart-pounding mechanical insanity from start to finish. When the final track ended, I found myself grinning once more, thinking “He’s done it again, the absolute madman.” It’s nice to hear some fresh cyberpunk horrorsynth with a modern sound appropriate for 2020. I can’t think of any other artist who is doing what Mega Drive is currently doing, and I’m beyond excited to watch his style continue to evolve into darker, stranger, heavier territory where few artists/listeners would dare to venture.
Check out the album here, and consider purchasing it on Bandcamp.