Anyone following me closely on Twitter knows I am a pretty big music nerd. And I’m not one of those guys that says he loves all kinds of music. No. I like a very specific type of music, and everything else is “pretty good” at best, but more often falls into the “meh” category.
Let’s talk about progressive metal.
More specifically, let’s talk about how progressive metal is the ultimate alternate videogame soundtrack.
Take for example, Blind Guardian. This may be the most obvious example, as this band not only had one of their songs, “Sacred Worlds,” featured in the game Sacred 2: Fallen Angel, but they actually had an in-game rendered sequence of them playing the song at a concert in the world of Ancaria. The song is an epic, powerful ode to the mystical and fantastical, and if you are the kind of person that can be moved by music, then this band is for you.
What I like about this song, and this band, is the hint of mythology, the pinch of wizardry, and just a touch of pretentiousness they bring to every song. I have often thought about putting together a 9-minute video of Skyrim kill cams set to this song, because it always makes me think of The Elder Scrolls Online and the faction war. And since it’s not out yet, Skyrim works just fine.
There’ll be war
It’s now or never
We shall stand together
One by one
This world is sacred
I’m coming home
It’s now or never
We shall stand together
One by one
This world is sacred
I would also like to throw out the song, “Curse My Name,” for consideration. It’s a much less heavy song, but I’m fairly convinced this song was born a few years too early, as it should have been sung by a bard in Skyrim. Check this one out, just because it’s awesome and fits into that game perfectly.
Ok, so maybe one band hasn’t convinced you that progressive metal is the ultimate alternate videogame soundtrack. But let’s examine some more of the evidence.
I’m going to stick with the Skyrim example because this next song is another one that works well. While it doesn’t necessarily sound like it would fit into the time period, it’s got that fantasy world, epic-sounding tone, an AMAZING chorus and an AMAZING guitar solo, and it just makes me want to whip out my double edged battle axe and destroy some Falmer!
The lyrics in the chorus also work well with the whole “there’s dragons around, we need a hero to save us” thing.
We’re looking out for a leader to believe in
For a watcher of the sky
Don’t want a pretender to deceive us
Or a demon in disguise
So if you can live through the shadow of our eyes
We’ll come to receive you because we need to
In a world that’s born to fly
One other example from Threshold is “Innocent.” I’ve pulled a live version of the song, because well… it’s just awesome. This song always makes me think about games set in medieval-ish times, or at least set back in time (Elder Scrolls, Age of Empires, Chivalry, some of the Total War stuff, maybe even some Assassin’s Creed).
These guys don’t need much explanation other than me telling you to click the links and listen to their stuff. They may not fit the mold of progressive metal exactly, but I think they’re close enough to include in my argument. Most of the tracks are purely instrumental, which only adds to their appropriateness for a soundtrack. Just turn on your favorite epic, engrossing game, whether it’s Skyrim, Dragon Age, Baldur’s Gate, Call of Duty, Deus Ex, Fallout, Guild Wars, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Torchlight, Warcraft, or Diablo, turn on “An Epic Age,” and be transported to a world of awesome. It doesn’t matter what game I’m playing, I can always visualize myself taking down a dragon, smashing someone with a light saber, or getting a triple kill with my Peacemaker. It’s just that awesome.
Also check out the song “Imperitum” for something a little different, but still a nice addition to the catalog.
This band is full of great songs that scream “videogame soundtrack.” You can’t argue with me on this first one, and if you do, we’re going to have issues. I have it on good authority this song was pulled from the Guild Wars 2 soundtrack because they realized it was so much more awesome than the already awesome soundtrack they’d put together. Ok, that’s not true, but it totally could be!
In the cold misty morning
Gleaming rays awake the dawn
Here I stand, a stranger in this land
Does your conscience betray you?
Falling from grace
Feel the sun on my face
Does desire still hold true?
One of the band’s best songs is “Reign In Madness,” which from the opening bars just sounds like it could be a modernized version of an old school game’s soundtrack. Great lyrics too.
Treads of iron crush the skulls of the damned
Stench of burning flesh covers the land
Rising from the screams
Of godless war machine
Bow your heads and abandon hope
We’re the gods of pain
Raise your hands if you’ll join with us
And let the madness reign.
I’ve saved the best band for last, Dream Theater. Now, these guys have actually had a song in a game, but I’m not even going to link you to it, because it’s probably my least favorite thing they’ve ever done (“Raw Dog,” from the God of War soundtrack – Google it yourself if you want to be disappointed). But the rest of the catalog from these guys is pure, epic, genius.
From the opening bars of this epic, 23 minute track, you’ll be captivated at the possibilities of what’s to come. It’s full of everything you need to get pumped up for a game, no matter the genre. I even played a game of NBA 2K13 with this song as the background recently. But it works just as well taking down Imperials in Skyrim or sieging a city in Age of Empires Online.
Life was filled with wonder
I felt the warm wind blow
I must explore the boundaries
Transcend the depth of winter’s snow
Innocence caressing me
I never felt so young before
There was so much life in me
Still I longed to search for more
Now that my time has come
Now that my life is done
We look into the sun
‘Seize the day and don’t you cry,
Now it’s time to say good-bye
Even though I’ll be gone,
I will live on, live on.’ (hinting, of course, at quick saves in Skyrim)
This song may be more suited for getting preared for an MMA match, as the opening explosion (coming in at about the 45-seconds mark), makes me want to destroy something, but it’s also perfect for getting pumped up for a hardcore gaming session. Which is why I ALWAYS start out my Call of Duty playtime with this song in the background. The song is about uprising in the Middle East, which works quite well with some Call of Duty games, but is so epic and powerful that it works for just about any game with a character you truly care about.
We fight for what is just
For all that we believe
We fight till death or glory
Fight to be set free
The streets are bathed in blood
Time to step down and time to walk away
You’ll never rule me now
Though you may stand upon my grave
This song is for all you explorers out there. Whether you spend your time exploring every inch of Skyrim, or spend hours in MMOs trying to get the perfect vantage point for a screenshot, this song is for you. It’s an instrumental, and is a bit more low key than anything else I’ve picked out for you, but it makes a great soundtrack for your epic adventures.
Never officially released on a studio album, this song may be the perfect fantasy-world song. The live version I posted has a hint of fallen angels singing in the background, riffs that Talos himself would have killed to learn, and an epic guitar solo that destroys all rakghouls within a 10 mile radius.
It was the mortal passion
The flame that lit the fire
the beauty of the starlight
brought the cruelty of desire
A lover’s link was broken
Another’s vengeful plan
was contrived through jealous hatred
for a cross of god and man
Leaving his maiden
he rose to the sky
Returning in splendors
to earth he did fly
Subject to presence
too brilliant to face
Another had killed passion’s grace
* * * * * * * * * * *
So that’s it, proof that progressive metal is the definitive music for gaming soundtracks. You want epic? You want blood pumping? You want powerful? You’ll get it all with progressive metal, and thanks to the list I’ve compiled here for you, you’ve already got a 12-song, 93-minute playlist to get you started. Head over to iTunes and start enjoying the games the way (in my opinion) they were meant to be enjoyed.
Disagree? Let’s be honest, I know you do! Tell me why I’m wrong in the comments below. I can’t say you’ll convince me otherwise, as my argument is pretty rock (metal) solid and is backed by 15 years of research, but I’d love to hear what you think.
[author] [author_image timthumb='on']https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSVqVJCJZzgn0nfKKzW_NVRvinaW4o40Xzn4ffstG4GbBm4S9gZ[/author_image] [author_info]SilentFury considers himself a music fan first and a gamer second, but there’s no reason both can’t exist at the same time! Follow him on Twitter at silentfury007, and check out all his work with QGN @SilentFury007.[/author_info] [/author]