Score Reviews‎ > ‎

DOOM by Mick Gordon (Review)

posted Oct 15, 2016, 12:36 AM by Leo Mayr

With more and more modern first person shooters relying on similar electronic music, finding a game with a fresh and exciting score is becoming increasingly difficult. When the new DOOM was released back in may, it changed that. Where most modern games relied on a cinematic story and cover-based shootouts, DOOM focuses on raw, violent non-stop combat. There's no taking breaks behind cover, no stealth or sniping, just aggressive combat up close. The score, composed by Mick Gordon reflects this perfectly.

The best word to describe Gordon's sounds is 'Metal'. There's pentagrams, demons and violence, so there really isn't another way the score could sound. The electronic music is dominated by Gordon's use of a 9-string guitar, resulting in a loud and aggressive sound. The music is just brutal, once it kicks in, there's no stopping it until you have obliterated every single enemy around you. There are more subtle parts, but sooner or later they all revert back to the aggressive electronic action. Part of the score consists of Gordon's loud and intense guitar based parts, whereas some action relies on various electronics. Gordon's experimenting with different sounds results in electronic action pieces that sound chaotic and disorganized before returning to the loud guitar based action. The score is not melodic by any means, instead relying on rhythms and electronic sounds, close to 'noise'. A good example here is "Rust, Dust & Guts". For a 'main theme', Gordon utilizes the iconic music from the original DOOM's "E1M1" level, playing a low, aggressive version on the 9-string guitar in "At Doom's Gate", a fun reminder of the franchise's legacy.
There are some tracks where you can almost hear a melody, for example "BFG Division", one of the game's main action pieces. Here, the guitar almost never stops, leaving you no time to breathe or relax. When the game's setting changes from sci-fi base on mars to the depths of hell, Gordon introduces a synthetic choir in "Damnation", one of the score's most powerful tracks.

Besides the immensely powerful action, the score also contains a handful of ambient pieces, that do their job but aren't nearly as exciting as the loud action, there just isn't any room for emotions other than hatred. There is a slight increase in intensity as the player fights his way from the first handful of enemies to the final boss fight in "Mastermind",  but other than that, there is no real development going on. The different action tracks are varied enough to make for a great experience. The album also contains four 'audio logs' from the game, read by a demonic voice. A fitting frame for the metal soundscape.

In the same way the game brings new life to the genre of first person shooters, the score brings a lot of fresh ideas. The immensely powerful action is just perfect for the game's combat, being almost exhausting to listen to. The loud guitar even rivals the Doof Warrior from Mad Max: Fury Road. If you're looking for a subtle emotional narrative and stong character arcs, then you're wrong here. If you want a fresh electronic action score, DOOM is as good as it gets.