The opening of Sammus’ Another M hits you with chip tune syths reminiscent of your good old gaming days. The listener is immediately transported to bleary eyed nights in front of a junky old TV with an NES and a case of coke– that is until the beat drops. Then, it becomes clear that this is something different altogether, and something most welcome.
Another M tells the story of the classic NES game Metroid. The game’s protagonist has to endure trials to defeat the evil Mother Brain on the planet Zebes, thus ensuring the safety of the galaxy against parasitic organisms called metroids. The concept is awesomely nerdy, and yet Sammus takes it a step further, adapting the story to say something more universal. The record deals with personal empowerment and feminism, and as such elevates itself beyond the mere basics of the video game plot.
Sammus has a fantastic knack for clever lyrics as well. Aside from adhering to the plot of the game, she remains conscious of the record’s nerd culture foundation and uses it brilliantly in her lyrics. The album not only makes references to Metroid, but contains quick shout outs to Gundam Wing, Final Fantasy, Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon and a host of other nerd culture strongholds. The result for the initiated is fantastically entertaining poetry. Those who didn’t spend their youth capturing all 150 Pokemon or painstakingly breeding a golden chocobo will probably be left in the dark on a lot of it.
It would be remiss not to mention the production on Another M. Sammus shows her multiple talents on this record through her beat production, which beautifully samples the soundtrack to Metroid in a way that is seamless, and effectively changes the mood from song to song. The album’s opener “Cybernetic Armor” sets up a dreamy energy for an overview to the protagonist’s origins. By contrast, “Crown” uses dark minor chiptune samples to create a sense of forboding leading to “Smash Bruhs,” the song inspired by the final boss battle in the game. Regardless of the desired feeling, each track is consistent and has the mojo to get even non-nerdcore fans bouncing.
Perhaps the drawback to Another M is that some tracks are too consistent. The first three tracks are fun, but there isn’t much in the beats or vocal delivery to differentiate one from another. “Crown” is a welcome departure, featuring a sung chorus and other melodic bits, but at the second to last song, it chimes in a bit too late. With lyrics like “If you ever fought a boss, get your hands up,” it’s clear that this is meant to be a big crowd pleasing anthem, but the chorus hook falls just a little short of irresistible.
These issues should be seen in perspective, however. On a seven track album, there’s hardly room to get bored. Played to its target crowd, Another M is entertaining from start to finish, and a testament to Sammus’ unique vision– equal parts nerdy and empowering, and absolutely worth following.
Favorite track: “Brinstar” displays Sammus’ finest nerdcore wordplay. On the surface, the song serves to narrate the plot of the game, but it also speaks about overcoming personal hardships. It encapsulates in many ways what the entire EP is about.