Review Summary: A blast from the past.
Let me first say this; Math Rock semi-exists somewhere in this universe, and specifically in this case, California
By now you've probably calmed down and decided not to hunt me down over the fact that I mentioned the genre of Math Rock, you can notice that I stated that it only "semi-exists". This might seem like an odd thing to say, but honestly Math Rock can exist only as much Nintendo-Core can; it definitely stands on it's own a little more, but it's more of a combinations of genres, opposed to a sub-genre. Well you might be saying to yourself "That's the same thing!" or possibly "Where did your get your degree in Math Rock?!", or more importantly "What does this have to do with The Advantage?". Well, The Advantage are a band that partially fits the description, and the rest, well I'll explain.
Now expectations you might have may be 5-7 minute songs of scattered rhythm changes and asymmetrical time signatures, but really, not so much. These four fellows cover old gaming system tunes.
It's not really all that unorthodox in terms of quality considering that the music on the old gaming systems such as Super Nintendo or NES are pretty catchy, and at times technical. These guys aren't Ben Weinman (who, according to wikipedia, is in a "Mathcore" band, but we all know better than to go there) but they surely don't disappoint. Each song is a rendition of your favorite old-school game's best songs and includes two guitarists, playing off each other extremely well if I might add, a bassist that can get pretty nuts at times, and a nice, super-sized, side order of a percussionist (in this case a drummer) that is pretty slick when it comes the kit. If you want to get a good idea of an overall sound think Battles with a little less focus on weirding you out and dance grooves, and more focus on Castelvania. Songs like "Double Dragon III: Egypt" and "Batman - Stage 1" make you feel like your twelve again playing your console of choice. On the other hand, while you can't avoid the fact that these are all from some children's game, songs like "Ducktails - Moon" and "Goonie 2 - Wiseman" are something even your grandma can find cute and uplifting, and everyone knows how right grandma is!
"Bomberman 2 - Wiggy", a highpoint of the album, is a song actually negating the comparison with Battles; it starts of with a nice groove with the guitarists showing some of the best work on the whole album. The song is less than two minutes, but shows massive potential and some real nice grooves and leads that stay true to the genre. "Double Dragon II: Mission 5" is another contender with it's nice blend of guitar and bass leads accompanied by some real simple, but fitting drum work. "Castlevania III: Boss Music" and "Castlevania II: Woods" actually sound like "The Fall Of Troy does Math Rock" with their pull-offs and experimental sections. The final song on the album "Wizards and Warriors" is the longest track on the album with some more of that TFOT sound in the beginning before transitioning to a funky section with the whole band just jamming. After the jam-fest the band slows it down with a few different leads and chants that eventually lead the band ending the song with the guitar and vocals utilizing the same melody.
The biggest gripe that could exist with this whole album would probably be that this could seem pointless due to the fact that if you really wanted to hear the songs you could go to your room, hook your old system back up, and make the experience by listening to the song while visiting the past at the same time. On another note, is their really any way to tell if they have the true talent when it comes to music? (songwriting for the not the so quick). Obviously the songs are covers and these guys can play, but what can lead you to believe that they can craft a song like their peers?
In the end this a fun release from some dudes that love their childhoods enough to form a band and cover some of their favorite songs from their NES/Super Nintendo games. All of the albums tracks are fun with the second half of the album owning more standout tracks that seem to fit the Math Rock mold almost perfectly. The songs are all translated quite well and there is almost no way of telling a difference, for better or worse. The live aspect gives the songs a new form; making them enjoyable outside of the actual gaming experience. When speaking of Math Rock, The Advantage don't really have the advantage, but they surely know how to play and there is no doubt that they have potential.
If you a naysayer or you don't think this is your thing, well...you'll always have your Super Nintendo.