Rage Original Game Soundtrack
Rage Original Game Soundtrack
January 31, 2013
Download at iTunes
The Rage Original Game Soundtrack is impactful and tense sounding game music. Composer Rod Abernethy combines orchestral instrumentation and gritty electronic sounds to bring the cinematic style gameplay to life. Abernethy uses his experience with countless game soundtracks such as the Dead Head Fred and TERA soundtracks to craft an action packed AAA soundtrack. Percussion, brass, woodwinds and strings are layered to create a full sound and add shrilling stingers and ambient atmosphere throughout the soundtrack. But are some of these pieces too repetitive and simplistic sounding? Does the American blues influence clash with the modern, cinematic atmosphere of the soundtrack?
Pieces such as “Ghost Hideout” and “Dead City” are eerie and thick sounding. These tracks are almost daring the player to explore the barren wastelands and destroyed civilization. String instruments and low woodwinds are mixed well together to create dissonant chords and haunting melodies. Trumpets howl in the background while percussion instruments creak and swell. The string parts in pieces like these are reminiscent of “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima” composed by Krzysztof Penderecki.
The soundtrack contrasts moments of stillness, tension, and action to bring some variety in tone. Some tracks crescendo and become more intense as the piece develops. For example, “Jackal Valley” does an excellent job of beginning with ambient electronic sounds and bumps, only to ramp up the intensity about halfway through and take the listener on quite a thrilling ride. The tempo seems to increase dramatically and the instrumentation transforms into natural sounding drums, strings and horns. The rhythms are syncopated and the melodies are frantic sounding. I enjoy the low brass growls and string swells as they add a modern style harmony to the piece. “RC Bomb Base” is similar in style to “Jackal Valley” which takes the listener from a moment of stillness and anticipation, to explosive action. The action in the latter half of “RC Bomb Base” transitions well into the haunting sounds of “Dead City”. While these pieces don’t necessarily give me a sense of the American West, I do feel as though I am in a deserted, post apocalyptic setting.
In addition to its orchestral selections, composer Abernethy dares to venture into the world of Blues guitar and modern rock and roll on Rage as well. The results are often disappointing, however. “Wingstick Training” features blues style solo guitar, which is to my ear buried in the mix. The techno style drumbeat is too upfront and overpowers the thin guitar parts. The ambient noises, synth instruments and bass line demand too much of my attention and I cannot focus on the guitar as the main ingredient. The overall effect of this track simply does not portray a dark, gritty, post apocalyptic setting. Compared to pieces such as “Dam Facility” and “The Well”, which have an eerie, tense and more refined sound, “Wingstick Training” seems weak and even contrived.
“Western Wastelands” is similar in style to “Wingstick Training”. I didn’t like the feel of this track and again thought it sounded forced compared to the orchestral style tracks. “Western Wastelands”, much like “Wingstick Training” features a guitar solo but the instrument is thin and did not float on top of the rest of the mix as it should. The techno style drums were energetic and full of action, but the guitar and strings did not match that intensity.What’s more, the minute and 4 seconds does not give the music time to really develop and I wanted the guitar to shred a lot more. “Welcome to Wellspring” features 30 seconds of lead guitar that is meant to portray the American Western atmosphere, but again the track is short lived and could be expanded on to take the listener to a barren desert in a corner of America’s western region. The ‘dobro’ slide guitar style is mixed well with the reversed bits of guitar that seem to trail off into the distance.
The Rage Original Game Soundtrack is not terrible. I appreciated the overall energy and intensity of the music, with most selections adding to the game’s post apocalyptic setting and action style gameplay. The electro-orchestral sound provided an interesting atmosphere that is prevalent in modern gaming. However, the chord changes and rhythms became repetitive at times, and many tracks that featured electric guitar solos could afford a better mix. Fans who purchased the iTunes version will be missing out on a lot of the music from the game, however. There are nearly three hours of the music heard in Rage, but the iTunes version features only 20 tracks, some of which are too short in length to fully satisfy. Regardless, this work is held to higher standards than some, but might get overlooked by game music fans who do not enjoy the twang of an American style blues guitar riff.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on July 7, 2015 by Marc Chait. Last modified on July 7, 2015.