(TheMadIsraeli wrote the following essay, which connects two of his favorite pasttimes.)
Besides being a devoutly obsessive-compulsive audio consumer of the style of metal and all of its extremities I’m also an obsessive-compulsive consumer of interactive video games. I have been all my life, and in a lot of the same ways as metal, video games are just as responsible for saving me from struggles with mental health issues and helping me cope with life. I find this funny, because if one really breaks down and examines video games, especially modern ones, at their cores…
They are essentially just interactive metal.
In the same ways that metal often reaches for heights of ambition, technicality, and progressivism, so do video games, especially if you’re someone like me who is into the subset of what you might call video games specifically made for obsessive video game players. Games like the highly praised Dark Souls franchise, Nioh 2, Furi, Doom in all its iterations, fighting game franchises like Street Fighter, Tekken, Mortal Kombat — they are all just playable metal.
They’re all-consuming vortices, and a grotesquely gratuitous cornucopia of systems and mechanics that push you to learn, master, and dominate in what they present to you, whether that’s the challenge of the game itself or through PVP or player-versus-player interactions in those games. Video games and metal also have an interesting relationship as far as soundtracking goes.
Of course, the first thing that is unsual is that in spite of a lot of video games being metal in spirit and ethos, they often aren’t soundtracked by it. The aforementioned Furi has a soundtrack entirely composed of ’80s-styled synthwave by an assortment of artists, including the fantastic Carpenter Brut, a non-metal guilty pleasure, but his contribution to that soundtrack is distinctly metal even in its spirit and presentation.
Of course you have the most obvious frontrunner here in this discussion, DOOM in any and all of it’s iterations. There’s been numerous covers of the original 1993 releases first staged simply called “E1M1“, an oddly sophisticated short loop of technical thrash metal originally communicated through primitive MIDI, not to mention the revival duology of DOOM 2016 and DOOM: Eternal, both soundtracked by the masterful Mick Gordon, one of the few distinctly metal oriented composers in the video game business.
Mortal Kombat 11‘s soundtrack is filled with cool proto-djent/groove metal inspired numbers as another example.
What I experienced for all of 2020 though, was JRPG developer Nihon Falcom and their penchant for writing MAYBE the best instrumental power/prog metal you could possibly hear in a video game. Whether it was the absurdly over-the-top power metal compositions of the Legend Of Heroes: Trails Of… franchise or their other flagship the YS series.
Another delight in 2020 was the Final Fantasy 7 Remake Part 1 discography, which had fantastic re-dos of classic songs from the original game that were obviously intended for grander aspirations, like the game’s classic boss theme, but I also immensely enjoyed the oddly Igorrr-esque glitchcore of the theme used for fights with the iconic Turks as well.
Anyways, I felt like writing a little fun ditty about an intersection between two loves of mine while I’m working on the upcoming Higher Criticism series. I’m curious how many obsessive gaming types we have as readers — speak up and let’s discuss the intersection between metal and video games and some of the ideas I brought up here.