Back to Blog

DLC Week of 9/28: 200 Stab Wounds and Yes

200 Stab Wounds “Masters of Morbidity” and Yes “Roundabout” sit atop of the pinnacles of their respective genres – and for good reason! Take your pick: punishing metal brutality or top-notch progressive chops. Grab each this Thursday in the Rock Band Music Store!

The iconic Yes single, “Roundabout” from 1972 LP Fragile, is one of legendary band’s best-known and most-loved triumphs. From the first album featuring keyboardist extraordinaire Rick Wakeman, the track really helped establish Yes’ groundbreaking “progressive rock” sound.

Chock to the brim with erratic, busy rhythms, playful melodies and hooks, and jaw-dropping musicianship throughout, “Roundabout” is one of those recordings that reveals more and more layers with each listen. What in the hands of a lesser group could easily translate to pomposity and pretentiousness is, under the guidance of the members of Yes, instead catchy, memorable, and *approachable.* That the cut reached #13 on the U.S. charts in 1972 and remains a staple on the airwaves and in television and movie programming is a testament to exactly how radio-friendly “Roundabout” is. Odds are very strong that you already know this song back-to-front, but if not rest assured it’ll be taking up residence in your musical subconscious for some time to come.

Clocking in at an epic 8:32 (I did just now say “epic,” after all…), things get started with a clever studio trick appropriated by many across numerous genres in the subsequent decades: a reverse piano swell (the player – in this case Wakeman – plays, and holds, one big, long chord on acoustic piano and then, in the final recording, that chord is played backwards, so that the quiet, “fading out” chord begins the track and gets progressively louder and more intense). That defines the first eight seconds of “Roundabout” before abruptly giving way to a single, gentle strum of acoustic guitar generating harmonics (Hey, check it out – “harmonics/Harmonix”!) courtesy of Steve Howe. More lovely acoustic playing follows (replete with additional reverse-swells) until, at the 41-second mark, we reach one of those legendary guitar licks every player worth his or her salt at least *tries* to play at one point or another (spoiler alert: not many can actually do it). That notable figure dovetails into full-band onslaught, defined in large part by Chris Squire’s nimble bass work in lock-step with Bill Bruford’s confidently funky drums. Just before one minute has elapsed, singer and co-writer (along with Steve Howe) Jon Anderson enters the picture. Anderson’s clear chime of a voice has been emulated and revered by thousands of fans and fellow-musicians for years and years – and for good reason! 

The train rolls on with plenty of shifts and nuance to keep things interesting until we reach yet another part at 1:39 replete with plenty of swirling keyboard-work. Is this the bridge? A random detour? Hard to say, but it works! Yes again returns to the main vocal melody – all the while with Squire’s surprisingly gnarly and throaty bass really demanding center-stage (in a great way!). At 3:21 the boys grind to a halt as Wakeman assumes the spotlight, with descending Hammond and Mellotron lines a-plenty. This leads to everyone barreling into a… Latin-themed(?) segue with plenty of shuffling beats and an entirely new bass line. Ok, so *this* must be the bridge, yes? Let’s go with that because we are now at, roughly, the midway point of the song, so… yeah – bridge! Why not?

Afterwards, we return to an acoustic-only interlude at 4:58, over a background of quiet keyboard tinkling, which calls back to “Roundabout”’s very first moments. Anderson’s voice joins again at 5:34 and the band steadily builds steam, ultimately returning to the familiar signature riffs and lines that have defined the track – albeit in somewhat re-arranged form (so this would be the “outro,” I guess? Maybe?). It becomes an instrumental free-for-all, with all members getting plenty of room to stretch out and really showcase their talents. At the 6:50 mark, Howe lets loose with a masterfully melodic solo that, along with Wakeman’s keyboards, lead us to the chorus once again (phew!). From there it’s an enjoyable romp through previously established compositional elements and melodic lines until, at 7:56, Anderson (with Squire and Howe providing backing vox) introduces an entirely new – and quite infectious! – new vocal tag. We ride out the remainder of “Roundabout” on this brand-new part (I guess this would be the outro then. Or maybe the Coda? Only Yes knows for sure) until Howe brings things back to just  that solitary acoustic guitar, as at the top of the track, to close the entire affair out.

Oh… you’re in for a ride with this one. Buckle up!

The 2022 single “Masters of Morbidity” by Cleveland quintet 200 Stab Wounds contains some of the hookiest, hardest, most brutal old school death metal (“ODSM” to those in the know) out there. From the get-go, the track is an unapologetic onslaught that mines the depths of extreme heavy rock.

Roaring out of the gate with blast-beats and ominous guitar lines (with plenty of false harmonics, so there’s no mistaking the genre!), “Masters of Morbidity” also boasts plenty of stop/start breaks and pummeling riffs – all this before there are any vocals, whatsoever! At 46 seconds in we finally get our first taste of the guttural power wielded by lead singer (and guitarist) Steve Buhl. As per the genre’s conventions, it requires an extremely close listen to decipher the lyrics, but suffice to say the themes are as morbid and dark as you might expect (and hope) from a track such as this and Buhl delivers the message with authority and menace. It’s a truly intense, haunting display and one that matches the heft of instrumental virtuosity of the rest of the band, pound for pound. Speaking of musicianship, each member of 200 Stab Wounds is a force to be reckoned with – from the rapid-fire double-kick wizardry of Owen Pooley to Ezra Cook’s thunderous bass line, to the twin six-string assault created by Buhl and Lance Buckley. 

Back to those lyrics for a moment, though: while the tone (and content) is decidedly morbid, 200 Stab Wounds advises against taking things *too* seriously: “There’s not really a message at all with our music or our lyrics or anything like that,” Buhl reveals. “It’s just mostly stories about random things, so it’s not really a message; it’s just open to interpretation. Whatever the listener thinks a song is about or what they want it to be about… it’s just about having fun, and I guess whatever you take the song as, you can make it your own.”

Fair enough!

Returning to the music: The structure established in the first 1:50 of the song gives way to an entirely new section, with furious tremolo strumming (super-fast single-string strumming) alongside spoken/growled vocals and only occasional percussive accents. At 2:21 the full quintet is back, though – just as relentless and punishing as before – setting the stage for a scorching, dive-bombing lead guitar break. This segues into another aggressively riff-tastic transition before Pooley lets loose with a brief, but staggeringly impressive drum solo at 3:01. From there it’s more tempo changes delivered by 200 Stab Wound’s machine-gun rhythm section and six-string tandem duo. “Masters of Morbidity” careens at full speed and intensity for another minute or so (be on the lookout for guitar solo #2 at 3:41!) right up until the unforeseen full-stop at 4:22, making for the satisfying, if somewhat exhausting, denouement the listener’s been hoping for.

At the time of the single’s release in November of ’22, 200 Stab Wounds asserted, “’Masters of Morbidity’ marks a whole new level for us as a band.” After just one listen, you’ll be in full agreement! You’ll have your hands full with this scorcher, RB4ers.

200 Stab Wounds “Masters of Morbidity” and Yes “Roundabout” are each available now, with 200 Stab Wounds featured in the Season 33 Pass. Pick up “Masters of Morbidity” today and dive into the full season of DLC! Both of these bangers can both be yours for $1.99 each.

  • 200 Stab Wounds  – “Masters of Morbidity”
  • Yes  – “Roundabout”

VIDEO: Rock Band 4 DLC Week of 9/28: 200 Stab Wounds “Masters of Morbidity” and Yes “Roundabout” 



*Please note that this week’s DLC tracks will be available for purchase on Thursday, September 28th.