Dead Rising 4 Original Soundtrack

deadrising4 Album Title:
Dead Rising 4 Original Soundtrack
Record Label:
Sumthing Else Music Works
Catalog No.:
SE-3206-2
Release Date:
December 2, 2016
Purchase:
Download at Sumthing Else

Overview

Dead Rising 4 was one of my most eagerly anticipated soundtracks of 2016. The award-winning score for its predecessor proved to be one of the most stylish and elaborate of this generation. And with Oleksa Lozowchuk returning as lead composer, bringing along talented series newcomers Boris Salchow, Jamie Christopherson, and Stu Goldberg with him, with him, I anticipated the sequel would only be better. I got my chance to find out on December 2, when Sumthing Else Music Works sent out their digital release of the Dead Rising 4 Original Soundtrack: a 113 track, 4.5 hour juggernaut. In the end, what I received was an exemplary in-game score but an ineffective stand-alone album…

Body

After all that anticipated, I found myself instantly disappointed upon listening to Dead Rising 4‘s opening tracks. Whereas its predecessor tantalised listeners from the get-go with its ultra-stylish electro vocal theme, the main theme this time round is… a creepy adaptation of carol “O Christmas Theme”. And whereas the last incarnation of “Nick’s Theme” was an unforgettable electro-orchestral mashup, all we get this time is a moody piano trio. Even more unfortunately, both tracks are sparingly developed and last a mere 90 seconds apiece on the soundtrack release. As I explored further, serious cinematic tracks like “Redux”, “Loading Screen”, and “Fresh Infected” felt all too similar to other Hollywood scores and lacked the tongue-in-cheek personality of the wider series. On first listen, the entire effort sounded derivative and uninspired, as if Lozowchuk and colleagues slopped something together to meet a brutal deadline.

As I grew to explore Dead Rising 4 further, I realised this couldn’t be much further from the truth. Rather than egocentrically create a soundtrack even more stylish than its predecessor, Lozowchuk instead focused on completely immersing himself into the game’s scenario, in this case a zombie apocalypse in midwinter country Colorado.  The setting demanded a more limited palette than previous scores and most of the tracks here fall into three kinds: cold wintry soundscapes, orchestral zombie dissonance, and a few obligatory Christmas references. The main theme, while still disappointing for its brevity, is impressive for the way it combines all of these elements into encompassing theme. To the backdrop of Lozowchuk’s orchestral dissonance and  ‘s visceral vocals, the lyrics “it’s the coldest time of year” have never felt more chilling. The likes of the “Frank’s Theme”, “Frank Mystery Theme”, and “DR4 Loading Screen”, are subtly composed, expertly recorded tracks. They feel somewhat muted on the soundtrack release, but each captures the scenario on-screen in different ways

At the centre of the original score are the action tracks, but only a few appeal on a stand-alone level. Boris Salchow’s tracks, akin to his work on the Resistance series, artistically blend influences from film and modernist music. “Calder Battle 1”, “ZT Horde 1”,  and “The Dam Battle” juxtapose oppressive orchestral discords with vigorous string phrases to capture both the intensity and dynamism of the zombie action. Jamie Christopherson’s offerings take a similar approach, but fail to stand out amidst numerous similar tracks given their relatively static timbres and generic bombast. Compositions like these feel like they belong more in God of War than Dead Rising. Far more interesting is “Torn Battle”, a three-part mashup of orchestral and country sounds from Traz Damji and Oleksa Lozowchuk that reflects the Colorado setting. It seems like a missed opportunity that the team didn’t create more fusions with the country sound, as it would have built on the fusion musical concepts of the rest of the series and given the soundtrack some much-needed individuality.

While Dead Rising 4‘s soundtrack runs for four and a half hours, the vast majority of the soundtrack is dedicated to the various songs and other diegetic music used during the game. The latter half of the first disc features adaptations of all sorts of Christmas carols and other holiday season classics. The odd Bollywood outing aside, the majority of these tracks create a pastiche feel by blending big band performances with the voices of crooners such as Antonio Gradanti and Douglas Roegiers. Moving to the second disc, we get eleven full-length adaptations of some country music staples, which were again all specifically arranged and performed for the game. The other offerings on the disc, from Christmas-themed mall music to cartoonishing toy shop themes to ridiculous faux commercial snippings, that again testify to the level of attention that went into personalising this soundtrack but will be utterly unappealing to the average stand-alone listener.

Summary

Oleksa Lozowchuk does an incredible job of creating an in-game score that somehow manages to be fitting and cohesive despite all its seemingly disparate elements. The amount of attention that went into composing, recording, and integrating most of the tracks here is astonishing. However, I was left cold by most of the original score between its modest thematic material and generic action tracks. The diegetic seasonal, country, and commercial music provides an incredible backdrop to Christmas in the Midwest and it’s admirable that Lozowchuk and co went for all-new music instead of relying on stock music. While tracks like these have always been welcome bonuses on the Dead Rising soundtracks, they surprisingly comprise the bulk of the music this time round at the expense of the original score. At 9 USD, Sumthing Else’s soundtrack release is still a bargain however and the soundtrack still has plenty to offer. Ultimately though, Dead Rising 4 is a score that I greatly admire but don’t particularly enjoy.

Dead Rising 4 Original Soundtrack Chris Greening

Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!

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Posted on January 13, 2017 by Chris Greening. Last modified on January 13, 2017.

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About the Author

Chris Greening

I've contributed to websites related to game audio since 2002. In this time, I've reviewed over a thousand albums and interviewed hundreds of musicians across the world. As the founder and webmaster of VGMO -Video Game Music Online-, I hope to create a cutting-edge, journalistic resource for all those soundtrack enthusiasts out there. In the process, I would love to further cultivate my passion for music, writing, and generally building things. Please enjoy the site and don't hesitate to say hello!



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