Megadrive’s 199XAD: a return to form

We’ve now had synthwave for longer than the 80s actually lasted, so it’s fitting that MegaDrive’s latest release looks a bit further forward into the past. This won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has followed MegaDrive’s ascent into ever-denser industrial depravity, but the sound is a bit different this time around-lusher, brighter, and more of a mechanical edge.

Some tracks are specific callous to moments in ‘8X though-the abrupt drop from Operator into Gun Hag recalls the drop from Infiltration into Acid Spit (still one of the top five drops in Retrowave.) Unlike Acid Spit, though, Gun Hag keeps on delivering after the shock of the initial drop wears off-the melodic section really carries it’s weight here.

I could swear that H.exe is The Reducer but with more of a pluck sound and a more progressive beat.

The most 90s-flavored track has got to be SKULJammer, which hits hard with orchestra hit samples (think Mortal Kombat) over a blend of glassy pop synths and distorted beats. And like several other tracks, it challenges you to play “synth or guitar” as the heavy sounds come in.

Another callback is Crypt Diver, which has elements of Memory Dealer, but replaces the utter darkness of the latter with an almost chiptuney swagger, and a very cool glitchy breakdown at the end.

What stands out most is the way MegaDrive chooses to end each track. Rather than a period-accurate fade-out, here he opts more often for a twist ending, changing up the beat and making you listen all the way to the end every time, in a way that few dance tracks (most synthwave included) do.

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