Danimal Cannon - LunariaThere is some absurd and crazy shit going on in the world of music. I must admit that, despite being a pretty eclectic guy, my dedication to Angry Metal Guy has made me a little myopic. I focus on a lot of what lands in my promo box and don’t get a lot of input from the outside. Therefore, I’d missed that there is a growing 8-bit music scene developing. Back in the day I thought it was awesome that my buddy made a Nintendocore band called Totally Radd! and we all had a great time with it (including his ridiculously epic cover of “Hallowed Be Thy Name” which works a hell of a lot better than you’d expect). But that was 2003 and this is 2016. I have been trapped listening to metal’s own versions of Nostalgiacore­­™—re-thrash, retro-doom, the Nostalgia Wave of British Heavy Metal™, old school death metal, old school black metal, old school old school metal. But there’s a whole other world out there, folks! Filled with other nostalgia that I also like. Enter Danimal Cannon.

Lunaria is not Danimal Cannon‘s first album, but it’s the first one I’ve heard and it hits a really special place for me. A beautiful blend of tech metal, ’90s industrial, and GameBoy™ riffs, Lunaria even features a faux-Final Fantasy cover which indicates that the mastermind and I live in the same Lebenswelt; we are united in nostalgia in a way that only two dorks born in our era could be. This probably narrows the specific appeal of this material to the nerdily inclined, of course, because rather than feeling like “Collision Event” features a bass-heavy mix of a missing track from FFVI‘s OST, you probably just think “Why would he use those keyboard sounds?” If you don’t heart midi OSTs,1 I can assume the appeal is slightly limited. (Though, I’d hope you’d be impressed by the fact that this dude actually didn’t use keyboards, but rather wrote this thing on an actual 1989 GameBoy, which gives him hacker cred as well!)

Danimal Cannon 2016 - by ChiptographyBut you’d be wrong to think of Danimal Cannon‘s music in such a limited way! Because the beauty of Lunaria is that it sounds like a really well-produced version of the demos that a super driven, techy metal band would make in Guitar Pro! Songs like “Behemoth” rocket out the gate with genuinely heavy riffing bolstered by 8-bit drums and video game explosions that would justify Norwegian guys in corpse paint to have scenes of the apocalypse blue-screened in behind them! But even if they did, “Behemoth” would still feature a better guitar solo. Or take “Red Planet,” it starts out slow, but about 90 seconds in it rocks out riffs with a rotating feel landing close to Gomorrah‘s loose feel, before transitioning in to a nearly djent-y chug riff. Surprising twists and turns lace the album: “Halo of Dust” sounds like the emotional peak of a Mass Effect game made for NES; “Axis” starts the album off with a Symphony X riff, transfers into 8-bit Opeth for 20 seconds and then knocks out a ridiculous groove riff which is followed by straight up a straight mosh-baiting section.

The majority of the album is, of course, made up of these 16-bit sounds, which makes the whole soundscape bright and lacking in the full range of dynamics that normally encounter heavy music. While the bass is filled out here—this isn’t actually lo-fi in any sense—it’s probably the thing I miss most about Lunaria. And part of the reason I do miss it is because, for example, the title track “Lunaria” and the song “Postlude” both feature beautiful singing from Emily Yancey, while the “Axis (Piano Version)” features the full-bodied piano features of one Shnabubula,2 and shows off the genuine musical genius involved here that way too many would be too quick to write off. Even “Surveillance,” which is likely the most musically straight of all the songs, sounds like a great NIN song made with a bit more irony and metallic energy.

While sonically it could probably use a bit more oomph to make it even more powerful, Lunaria is an unequivocal success! And it’s not just the nostalgia that keeps me coming back to Lunaria. Rather, it’s the brilliant composition, an ear for catchy and inventive melody, and Danimal Cannon‘s unique take on a blend of seemingly unmixable sounds. It’s crazy to say, in a 2016 as loaded as it is with high-profile metal releases, but Lunaria was written on a GameBoy and it’s still one of the most engaging records I’ve heard in 2016.


Rating: Great!
DR: 7 | Media Reviewed: V1 mp3
Label: Ubiktune
Websites: danimalcannon.com | danimalcannon.bandcamp.com
Out Worldwide: March 11th, 2016

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Have you no soul!?
  2. No, really.

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  • Bart the Repairman

    I like my metal weird, but this is far beyond my comprehension… for now at least.

  • Robert Turnbull

    Metal + Gaming = Epic Win
    AMG digging up epic music as always. Cheers!

  • TminusEight

    I saw two guys on stage with guitars and a Playstation as one of the bands in a Goth/Darkwave gig in Wellington in ’99 I think it was… They were killer :) You see what nostalgia does, AMG! I had no idea that memory was still in my head. Anyway, sounds intriguing, will give this a listen.

  • Reese Burns

    Yeah, not a big fan.
    Also, that cover is so cringe.

  • Dearest AMG,
    If you like this release, try this one out also… https://danimalcannon.bandcamp.com/album/parallel-processing

    It’s a little spazzy but very well-written, in my opinion. Somewhat rare in the 8-bit world.

  • Philip Pledger

    I like this, but…it’s REALLY HARD TO TAKE A BAND SERIOUSLY WHEN THEY SHARE THEIR NAME WITH THIS.

    • Bart the Repairman

      Name is really the smallest obstacle to taking this band seriously.

    • André Snyde Lopes

      “Strawberry Explosion®”

    • kornspring

      Great, now I’m wondering if “Danimal Cannon” is supposed to mean “yogurt gun”…. which doesn’t take much of a stretch to imply other things.

      Dicks. I’m talking about dicks.

  • Blueberry Balls

    Hadouken…Hadounicornken!

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      If you could only superimpose that monkey head from the Dannon smoothies over the ladies face…

      • Blueberry Balls

        or this!

        • Tom Hardy

          Mid-Shoryuken eeeh.

  • Blueberry Balls

    Loving the 8-bit’ness to this. Mega Man represent.

  • Alexandre Barata

    Don’t want to take a piss in AMG musical taste, but something that could be an OST of Alex Kidd is not my defenition of “Great”. This is probably the final wankery-boss you got to beat so you can get to the good music

  • David D.

    You simply cannot talk about 8 bit metal without mentioning Machinae Supremacy. I am excited to give this a listen

    • Mr T

      Ye olde sid metal. This is nothing new.

      Edit: “Alan Cox said it was “excellent hacking music” in August 2002″

  • I get there being one band that does this, and that band is Anamanaguchi. I sorta get the Megas (though I prefer the Protomen). But this? Nah brah. Life’s too short to listen to gimmick-rock.

    • Max Williams

      The Megas are great!

  • Soge

    Ladies and Gentlemen, feast your eyes on AMG’s record of the month.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      You’re very likely right

    • André Snyde Lopes

      Lord help us if you’re right…

    • Kronos

      If this beats Wormed I’m filing a formal protest.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        I’ll sign it

      • Tom Hardy

        This pales in comparison to Skaphe2. I’m waiting on my Wormed LP to spin it.

        At the end of the day, it’s apples vs oranges and AMG’s tastes may not sync with everyones. So I expect him to pick it, feature it and have it for breakfast.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    This would probably be a great soundtrack for a video game. But I don’t think it would listen to this on its own.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Good review I was sold on this after reading.
    My favourite moment is the short and sweet ‘interlude’ which very pleasantly reminds me of Zelda Ocarina of Time and also the title track is great.
    I could be going insane but does the song Collision Event remind anyone else of Joe Satriani’s Surfing with the Alien?

  • Tom Hardy

    Outside of a good looking album cover, the music feels like Michael Bay’s TMNT in every sense. Over produced, unwanted explosions, eye candy actress for the cover/ presentation and the obvious step below the original content. I’ll even let that silly word – Nostalgiacore – go *shaking my head*. This music while decent is a mere shadow of the glorious soundtracks of old. Quality over quantity. So, eeeehhh.

    • MelbCro

      that’s a lot of nothing to say you don’t like it man, geez

      • Tom Hardy

        Well mate, there’s two ways to approach it. A 2 word post to say “This sucks” / “This rules” or a post to say why one thinks it’s good or bad. It’s an expression of an opinion and I choose to go via the latter route, extending the same courtesy the reviewer has gone to write at length and in depth about why an album was good or bad. So, in my own way, I’ve cited what the album sounds like to me. Sound fair mate?

        • MelbCro

          Pretty sure I was taking the piss. lol so serious

        • Mostly you’re wrong, though. So that’s a bit of a problem.

    • I’m so glad you took time out of your busy day to not only take a shot at my jokes, but also the music I like and Michael Bay. Only one of those was appropriate. And it was taking shots at Michael Bay.

      • Tom Hardy

        Gotcha mate. I’m really okay with either not agreeing with or agreeing with a reviewer on here. It takes all sorts of people to make the world go ’round and it’s A-OK. Jokes apart it was Einstein that said “most people say that it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character.” and you’ve come a long way and have that character in the music world. Stay angry.

        • That’s funny. In PhD work, I always tell people that the primary thing you should be isn’t smart: it’s stubborn. Apparently I’ve been paraphrasing Einstein.

          I’m just defensive of the concept of Nostalgiacore, because I think it’s the best way to describe the near pathological obsession the scene has with producing music that’s “old school.”

  • savafreak

    So when is the new Justin Bieber album review coming man? waiting for your opinion to order it !

  • Berit Dogg

    Metal fans complaining about music being ridiculous? You have no right! … Anyway, I don’t belong to exactly the right nerd subsector to get the full nostalgic context, but I find I enjoy 8-bit squeaks. Great find, AMG!

    • Berit Dogg

      A while I ago I found *this* (link to: pixelstorm at bandcamp dot com). I thought this was an isolated madman but apparently not… 8-bit renditions of Opeth songs, AMG?

      I was looking for Electric Wizard so this guy’s “8 bit sludge” covers was a fun find. And I stumbled over “Acoustic Wizard” at the same time, so… double win!

      • Sikrion

        Acoustic Wizard is one of the best things ever! I am glad the electric wizard is okay with them.

        • Berit Dogg

          I’m not sure they are. Mr Acoustic Wizard left a rather confusing explanation on Facebook. No more acoustic wizard, sadly.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Well, after this, I hope the new The Algorithm album gets reviewed here.

  • gruvemil

    This seems cool, would also in a similar vein recommend Preschtale. It’s way more proggy than this is.

  • Dethjesta

    Wow, this is so far outside my frame of reference I don’t know what to make of it.

    I think I like it.

  • sir_c

    The 1st track really sounds like Satriani playing his stuff through OctaMED! Remarkable find man!

    • Y’know it’s funny, I didn’t even think Satriani, but it’s tooootally Satriani.

  • Siege Bantayan

    Just listening to this makes me imagine that I’m playing Contra on steroids.

    • Kalsten

      Contra! That was a game!

    • Tom Hardy

      Speaking of Contra, track 10 Coalesce sounds like the beginning to the snow stage.

  • Max Williams

    I’ve been a fan of chip tunes for a while, and these sounds bring me right back to when I was a 10-year-old kid playing Zelda, Super Mario Bros., Metroid, Final Fantasy and Mega Man on the NES. It’s great to see something like this reviewed on the site! The yogurt thing is a bit of a turn off though.

    • So “Chip Tunes” are what this is called? I don’t get it.

  • Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Select, Start.

  • madhare

    I actually like your friend’s version of Hallowed be thy Name much more than the embedded track. So that’s two new crazy things for the price of one post!

  • See also Sky Sanctuary for this sort of thing – less proggy perhaps.

    • Sky Sanctuary! Nice pull. Sonically, SS might do a better job blending chip and metal than DC, but they don’t quite have the songwriting knack of The Danimal, in my opinion.

  • Sikrion

    I did not know what to expect from the final fantasy looking album artwork nor from the lunar esque font design.

    This sounds exactly as I would want ^_^ my wallet cries but my ears rejoice.

  • Grymm

    “Long Live The New Fresh” is easily the best dance song I’ve heard. Ever.

    It’s been on constant repeat since I first heard it.