Surprised more folks haven't been talking about this one. I admit the album didn't leave a very good first impression on me, but after getting over the initial disappointment that this wasn't going to be a straight up rock arrangement, I ended up appreciating it a lot more. There's a few hiccups here and there, but it's a mostly agreeable listen.
The album does end up being most effective when the rock arrangements are on display. DARKMAN STAGE (SIDE-R) is the main jewel here, as are the the "X" related tracks. Both MMX1 and MMX2 OPENING STAGES are terrific, combining some of the more effective blends of synth and live guitar the CD has to offer. ARMOR ARMARGE STAGE and ZERO are easily the best of the X bunch, and the tracks I find myself coming back to the most.
Unlike others, I don't mind the oversaturation of CUTMAN, but this cover's pretty much a bust. The backing riffs give the track potential, but the lead synth is tacky and overbearing -- this on top of an arrangement that's simply too short in both length and imagination. Same goes for FLASHMAN, its funky toned merits overshadowed by a mundane and lazy representation of melody.
MM6 BOSS was a track I was looking forward to, but I'm disappointed they've opted for a decidedly prevalent techno sound rather than rock; the strains of live guitar in an otherwise rote and muddy arrangement puts this on the lower rung of faves. On the plus side, MM3 ENDING boasts some of the cleanest, most pleasing guitar work I've heard all year, and MM3 STAGE SELECT's crisp and adrenaline-inducing trance galvanizes the listening senses in the best way possible.
I could've done without the Piano Version of Darkman, but while its melody is highly diluted, I'm loving the crunchiness and variable tempo changes of SIDE-D.
And FLUTTER VS. GAZEL SHAFT is just balls out FUN.