By Matty Hume
CALGARY – Spawning and level grinding in Boston, Massachusetts, the metal-clad bards of pop-culture-past known as Powerglove still refuse to log off.
No young fellowship of musicians can forget the days of MySpace band pages, and Powerglove are relatable heroes. The band consists of guitar/synth guardian Alex Berkson, axe-wielder Ben Cohen, and oracle of percussion, Bassil Silver. Silver says that the industrial potion of today’s Powerglove started with a simple batch of ingredients: excitement, nostalgia, and an Internet connection.
“Alex and I grew up down the street from each other and played in a melodic death metal band together in high school. One day, he shot me a metal cover of a Tales of Phantasia track that he recorded, and out of excitement we decided to record some video game tracks together on the side,” recalls Silver. “We recorded our “Dr. Wily’s Theme” cover, and subsequently “Storm Eagle” and “Power Rangers,” and threw a quick website together along with a MySpace to showcase the tracks. The death metal band wasn’t really gaining any traction —- but to our surprise —- a lot of people were listening to the video game tracks and hounding us for more. We decided to take it more seriously and Powerglove was born.”
“Dr. Wily’s Theme,” is a track from the 1988 Nintendo Entertainment System classic, Mega Man 2, and with that legendary birth came a saga fit for space-kings. Powerglove indepdently released Metal Kombat for the Mortal Man in 2007, landing them an opening gig for DragonForce (still hot off their Guitar Hero 3 “Through the Fire and the Flame” glory). The band signed to E1 records in 2010, releasing their collection of powered-up versions of cartoon classics, Saturday Morning Apocalypse, which featured songs plucked from ‘90s cereal-crunchers like Pokemon, Inspector Gadget, and Transformers. While fans may be hounding to hear more of their childhood with tech-metal flair, the whole problem of “copyright law” doesn’t exactly give Powerglove a speed increase.
“The covers aspect definitely slows down the process a bit, because we have to clear the rights for all the songs we record,” Silver says.
But Saturday Morning Apocalypse was more than worth the wait. A personal favourite is their rendition of the opening jam to the X-Men cartoon. I’ll throw hands for my favourite mutants, and Silver takes it just as seriously.
“I always really liked Nightcrawler for his stealthy abilities,” states an astute Silver. “Beast is pretty awesome as well for his intellectual/physically powerful dichotomy.”
X-Men was a Saturday morning staple that kicked off its five-year run on Halloween, 1992. Powerglove’s penchant for knowing exactly which memories to douse in heavy distortion comes from the same fondness for pajama-clad mornings-past that keep us going to every movie Marvel Studios churns out.
“For cartoons, [the ‘Golden Age’ was] no question the early ‘90s,” Silver says. “I’m definitely biased since that’s when I grew up, but how can you argue with the old Batman, X-Men, Ren & Stimpy, Rocko’s Modern Life, Tiny Toons, Pinky and the Brain, too many awesome shows. I feel bad for anyone who had to grow up with Spongebob.”
But before you take those fingers to Bikini Bottom Twitter, keep in mind that Powerglove are still the masters of the sea. Their latest release and current tour’s namesake, Continue? (2018), contains a technical and blackened rendition of Disney’s The Little Mermaid hit, “Under the Sea,” with vocals from DargonForce’s Marc Hudson, no less.
“I thought of doing ‘Under the Sea’ several years ago when listening to Amon Amarth, and out of nowhere a minor version of the ‘Under the Sea’ melody popped into my head which fit perfectly over the riff,” Silver says.
“I wrote a riff pretty heavily influenced by that Amon Amarth part and built the song around that. Given that the beginning of the song ended up taking more of a fast, upbeat DragonForce type sound, it seemed like a perfect fit to have Marc record the vocals for the track, and he did an awesome job with it!”
An awesome job it was. Their swashbuckling take on the Disney classic is ripe with DragonForce-style speed, technical metal precision and the punch of a mean kick drum. Hudson’s vocals shift seamlessly from an optimistic croon to a black metal growl. But outside of the water levels, Continue? stays true to the band’s video game roots. This includes a soaring take on “Kirby” worthy of a place on the Smash Bros. soundtrack, and an epic metal blast of the iconic “Guile’s Theme” from Street Fighter.
“We all love Street Fighter but never played it with the level of addiction it takes to master it. Smash Bros., on the other hand, we’ve put quite a bit of time into,” Silver says.
“Alex and I are pretty neck in neck these days, but he has a frustratingly uncanny ability to read my moves psychologically and force me to stay away from patterns. Really fucking excited for the new Smash for Switch.
I excitedly went out and bought a switch the day it was announced, ignoring the inevitable six-month agonizing wait.”
While we wait with Silver for Nintendo to gift us with the next greatest friendship tester, go watch these wizards of legends-not-forgotten shred up your local stage, as Powerglove is taking Continue? on the road.
Awaken the best memories of the animated violence that formed you, with the helpful catalysts of headbanging and shear talent.
Powerglove performs August 21 at the Rickshaw Theatre (Vancouver), August 23 at Dickens Pub (Calgary), and August 24 at the Starlite Room (Edmonton)Dickens Pub, Powerglove, Rickshaw Theatre, Starlite Room