Sound: Love them or hate them, games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band have allowed fields of musical artists to reach a higher level of notoriety. Where MTV has essentially failed a generation, video games are oddly enough picking up the slack. So it's no surprise that marketers across the board have taken notes and are ready to combine forces, with the latest being the partnership between Sony publishers and Roadrunner Records. To coincide with this month's launch of God Of War 3, Roadrunner is also releasing a soundtrack EP for the video game. As far as a six-track, short-and-sweet EP goes, God Of War: Blood And Metal is a surprisingly well-balanced metal offering that features an impressive roster of bands.
Metal reigns supreme on Blood And Metal, but with the addition of Dream Theater and Opeth two bands with extremely unique approaches to the genre the EP never remains stagnant. Kicking it all off, however, is one of the most commercially successful bands of the bunch, Killswitch Engage. In what could be described as classic Killswitch fare, My Obsession features no shortage of pinch harmonics, alternating vocal styles, and varying musical sections. There's even a brief spoken-word portion to top it all off. While it's not the most engaging song on the EP, My Obsession will be welcomed by any Killswitch fan.
Trivium, Taking Dawn, and Mutiny Within all provide a solid showing with their respective songs, particularly in regards to the guitar work. The technical prowess is consistent between the three acts, and if you're a fan of solos they'll be right up your alley. Of course, if you're looking for the kings of virtuosity, Dream Theater has written one of their most impressive tracks to date with the instrumental Raw Dog. Leaving out the trademark vocals of James Labrie, there is little to distract you from the intricate arrangements that guitarist John Petrucci, keyboardist Jordan Rudess, bassist John Myung, and drummer Mike Portnoy make appear utterly effortless.
The most daring addition on Blood And Metal belongs to the genre-defying Opeth. The band could have easily played it safe and followed suit by delivering an onslaught of distortion and manic solos, but Throat of War is an acoustic work of brilliance. The band doesn't feel the need to disrupt the mellow mood by throwing in unnecessary metal breakdowns or double bass pedal. Instead Mikael kerfeldt provides classically inspired acoustic work, a clean vocal delivery, and moments that are almost completely silent. It's the perfect transitional piece for the CD, which only improves by the contrasting sound. // 8
Lyrics: There could have been a fairly wide discrepancy in the lyrical approach because we are dealing with six different bands, but the themes stay consistent via the passionate themes. It's true that each band channels that passion differently, whether it be love (Killswitch Engage's My Obsession) or a thirst for war (Taking Dawn's This Is Madness). While the tracks aren't necessarily inspired directly from the video game itself, the resulting lyrical content feels oddly cohesive. // 8
Overall Impression: With any soundtrack or album that is inspired by a movie and/or video game, it often becomes a case of hit or miss. The six tracks featured on Blood And Metal do vary in metal styles and you may find yourself fast-forwarding past one or maybe even two songs, but even the most mediocre tracks are listenable. Your favorite selections will boil down to your personal taste, but Dream Theater and Opeth are the standouts in terms of creative, fresh arrangements. A few of the songs do go heavy on the screams, but any video game with the word war in the title probably desperately requires this element anyway. // 9