A little about Arctic Mega Defender:
From the farthest reaches of the galaxy (OK...Sweden) comes Arctic Mega Defender (AKA Henrik Hagerman). As a teenager, he started making rave tracks in 2002, slowly honing his skills by studying how other people produced their songs. Gradually, he moved on to more serious techno and tech-house in his college years. It was in 2010 that AMD wrote his first retrowave track inspired by Baywatch, but he was still unaware that a flourishing scene existed. Slowly, he shifted focus to more soundtrack oriented music under the moniker "White Quark". Fast forward to 2017, and AMD was encouraged to post his music on Reddit's "We are the Music Makers", where he learned many things most artists learn in their formative years. His compositions were always lauded, but his production was criticized. It was then that he found Reddit's /r/outrun, and like many of us, he'd found home. You can find his prior releases (including an amazing collaboration with Don called "Neural Net") on his Bandcamp page.
Mega-thrusters are go, let's form the "Battle of Planet Arctica" album:
"Battle of Planet Arctica" released September 1st, 2019. The album contains 9 songs that, while it is a mix of spacewave, outrun, and electro-metal, the music sounds like the soundtrack to any number of '80s movies, TV shows or cartoons. There is absolutely no question that this release is pure synthwave quality, but couple that with the intense nostalgic vibes upon hearing the theme songs, intros and outros, and the end result is pure magic. The artwork for the album was done by Dipo Muh (https://www.instagram.com/nomansnodead/).
Let's roll out and check out the ten tracks on this amazing album:
"Hostile Warp Gate" - Kicking off this cool soundtrack style album, this 2 minute song eases the listener into what epic '80s cartoon and movie themes await. It features some dark synth builds hinting that something exciting and "trans formative" is about to occur. AMD references Shikimo's "Hydra" as an influence, but included video games like "Syndicate" and "Warcraft" (the original) to give it a thematic sound.
“Arctic Mega Defender Theme Song” - Alright. This right here. This is the good stuff. If you remember any '80s action cartoon themes, then this song is the ultimate tribute. Featuring AMD's voice, this screams cheesy soundtrack material from shows such as "Voltron", "G.I. Joe", or "Ulysses 31". The pace, the chorus, and the lyrics are bang on. I'm truly impressed with the work done here.
“Rising from the Arctic Abyss” - One of my favourite songs on the album, this one has a driving rhythm reminiscent of the "Airwolf" theme. Strong and pounding with great peaking synth sounds, the reverbs on the melody remind me so much of '80s action TV shows.
“All Systems Are Go” - Powerful glorious chords abound in this track. AMD also includes some wicked synthy riffs for the melody that is full of energy and vibrancy. I truly love the upbeat strong patches he used here. Towards the end the build continues and the song begins to climb that chord ladder until the perfect theme song ending.
“Mega Team to the Rescue” - This was released earlier in the year as a single, and it reminds me of the theme songs to the A-Team or Magnum P.I. Mr. Defender sure knows how to evoke childhood memories sitting in front of the TV after school watching fun and memorable cartoons and shows. Strong reverbs and echoes reinforce AMD's description of the song: "Meanwhile, on the verge of being overrun, Station Bravo is calling for help. There is one light of hope, one league of powerful heroes that answer their call, when the Mega Team comes to the rescue!"
“Hovercraft Chase” - Less cartoon, and more live action, Hovercraft Chase brings to mind Miami Vice, Beverly Hills Cop, or T.J. Hooker. A driving pace with echoes reverbs, and featuring some guitar notes, the song truly should belong in a soundtrack to the next Hollywood "remake".
“DarkBot Plotting His Evil Revenge in the UltraCorp HQ (feat. Alpha Chrome Yayo)” - Prepare yourself. You are getting tag teamed by AMD and Alpha Chrome Yayo. You can hear ACYs distinct guitar riffs on this foreboding track that embodies the dark villain uttering his challenge to the heroes. This is the most powerful and darkest song on the album, featuring the evil Darkbot voice as he throws his fists up in the air at our heroes. Fast and furious, what a treat!
“On to the Next Adventure” - After the previous track, this refreshing and optimistic theme let's us know that our heroes will be back in another episode. Lighthearted plucks on the synths with uplifting chords make you feel like you can take on everything, just like a hero on the big and small screens.
“Arctic Mega Defender (Instrumental Credit Roll version)” - Closing out the album, this short 2 minute theme song perfectly wraps the incredible songs that came before. You've just watched an exciting episode or movie, and here comes the fast scrolling credits featuring the ending theme song with a montage of adventure and action in the background.
I'm not ashamed to admit it (and neither should you), but this album is pure bliss. I spent countless hours in the '80s (yes...I'm that old) watching Magnum P.I., Voltron, Thundercats, Miami Vice, Beverly Hills Cop, Silverhawks, Streethawk, The A-Team, MacGyver, and anything else you can think of. Each and every theme song is burned into my memory, and Arctic Mega Defender has just caused the "nostalgiadala" (yes, I made that up) in my brain to explode. Many synthwave artists pay tribute to the theme songs of days gone by, but none have been so direct and skilled as AMD in replicating the sound while keeping the modern production values intact. Do yourself a favour and purchase the digital album here.
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