DmC -Devil May Cry- Combichrist Soundtrack Official Bootleg
DmC -Devil May Cry- Combichrist Soundtrack Official Bootleg
February 20, 2013
Buy at CDJapan
I whole-heartedly support Capcom’s decision to reboot the Devil May Cry franchise. While I adored the original Devil May Cry, the franchise grew stale in subsequent years and even its lead character no longer cut it; a cocky, silver-haired lead in a trenchcoat might have been cool in 2001, but looked pretty cheesy a decade on. In the end, Ninja Theory delivered in an excellent game with DmC: Devil May Cry, preserving the core narrative and gameplay, while introducing a hot new lead, a well-considered story, and stunning visuals.
Where I felt more concerned was the musical direction. I was flabbergasted to learn that, instead of sourcing the talents of series’ veteran composer Tetsuya Shibata, the developers went for two artists who had no previous scoring experiences. But Ninja Theory scouted Noisia and Combichrist for a reason — they both had something interesting and potentially great to offer. For those that don’t know, Combichrist is an industrial metal unit formed by Norwegian artist Andy LaPlegua. Combichrist’s contribution to DmC: Devil May Cry is a series of heavy metal vocal themes that largely accompanied the action scenes. The DmC -Devil May Cry- Official Bootleg, released in Japan, features many of the tracks that the artist specifically composed for the game. However, due to licensing issues, it leaves out the tracks that were reused from Combichrist’s wider discography. These can be purchased in the overseas album No Redemption instead.
The concept explored in this album is nothing new. Tetsuya Shibata’s soundtrack to Devil May Cry 3 featured heavy metal vocal tracks throughout their boss battles and so did its successor. Yet the way Combichrist expands on this idea throughout DmC: Devil May Cry is extraordinary. Right from the start of the album, “Zombie Fistfight” captures the pace and intensity of the game’s action perfectly. The screaming vocals, shredding guitar riffs, and electronic undertones all come together to create something hard-edged, but also catchy and interesting throughout its development. While a relatively typical heavy metal creation, “No Redemption” is bound to have plenty of mainstream draw and quickly makes an impression. Both tracks shine as very well-produced, benefiting from excellent vocal and instrumental performances, as well as cutting-edge electronic sampling throughout — the sort that would be expected from a pioneering recording artist, but not always a game musician.
Andy LaPlegua demonstrates he is an excellent vocalist throughout this release. As with Shootie HG’s offerings on Devil May Cry 3, many of the performances feature mean, growling vocals typical of death metal. But where LaPlegua stands out is with the conviction he presents the songs. He absolutely dominates tracks such as “Falling Apart” and “Buried Alive” with aggressive, enpowering performances, always bringing out the full meaning of the lyrics — at least, those that I could comprehend. When he asks listeners “Can you feel it? CAN YOU FEEL IT?”, he does so with such persuasion that you’re bound to say yes. The artist also demonstrates considerable versatility throughout the release — filling “Gimme Deathrace” with a charismatic hard rock stylings, before exploring more introspective, brooding emotion on “Feed the Fire”. All of them fit their contexts in the game and come together to ensure a varied, fulfilling album experience.
In contrast to Combichrist’s wider discography, the original tracks on No Redemption focus more on standard heavy metal set-ups than electronic stylings. Yet several tracks here, notably “Cloud of War” and “Feed the Fire”, feature industrial soundscapes that create a suitably haunting, demonic atmosphere. They complement Noisia’s tracks and the game’s worldview well, while reflecting another facet of Combichrist’s musicality. A sudden break from the heavier tracks, “Empty” shifts the focus from vocals in favour of distorted, mechanised beats and edgy, idiosyncratic rhythms. Listeners may be surprised to learn this aseptic track forms the backdrop of the game’s most emotionally charged boss battle, yet it somehow works. It’s especially effective how it shifts through several tiers of intensity to capture the ever-intensifying combat. The orchestral undertones of the opening track “Age of Mutation” are also effective, supporting the cinematic approach for the game and setting an epic scope for the album.
While Combichrist maintain a dark, heavy sound throughout this release, they’re thankfully prepared to have fun too. “Gimme Deathrace” just oozes with ego and extravagance, with Combichrist clearly channeling influences from American hard rock artists. In many ways, it is a perfect depiction of the attitude of Dante himself. The final track “Gotta Go” is a loud and fast as they come, with the vocals, guitars, and drums all on overdrive. Yet it’s also clear that Combichrist had a lot of fun making it. Encompassing the game itself, it manages to be over-the-top without being completely overbearing or ridiculous. But while there are fun moments here, listeners should expect an overwhelmingly intense, unrelenting listening experience filled with heavy metal and industrial stylings. Just like the game itself, plenty of profanities come in tow too. If either of these are likely to bother you, No Redemption is obviously not for you.
Those that purchase this version of the soundtrack are likely to feel somewhat cheated. It fails to include several tracks that were specifically composed for the game, notably “Sequential One” and “Media Riot”, and also omits the ten pieces that were licensed for the game, for example “Never Surrender”, “Get Your Body Beat”, and “Electrohead”. In particular, the licensed tracks were used in an iconic way throughout the game and really develop the industrial metal influence of the soundtrack. Most such tracks sound like they belong just as well in DmC: Devil May Cry as those pieces specifically composed for the game. Even though it still isn’t quite complete, the two disc overseas release No Surrender compiles most of the important tracks and is a much more fulfilling, well-rounded listening experience. Only go for the official bootleg if you already own the rest of Combichrist’s discography and hence don’t require the second disc.
Combichrist’s tracks for DmC: Devil May Cry work very well both in context and as a stand-alone album. It’s amazing how well Combichrist’s music encapsulates the demonic world of DmC: Devil May Cry and conveys the different facets of Dante’s character. Out of context, those who have some affinity for heavy metal music are likely to find this one enjoyable. However, listeners across the world should take note that this album is incomplete and it’s a much better idea to grab the Never Surrender album instead. In this case, the Western release is definitely better than the Japanese one.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.