Games Meet Metal: The Blood and Metal EP for Gods Of War III: The "Pretty Much Everyone" Review

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Friday, February 26, 2010

The Blood and Metal EP for Gods Of War III: The "Pretty Much Everyone" Review

Finally, a moment I have been throffing for is nearing close. March 16 is the release of God of War III, and in absolutely pure nerdiness, I have already pre-ordered the super deluxe edition. Paid it all off too. (Thank you tax returns!) I'm also doubley stoked that GOW III is going to please all the metalhead gamers of the world and include a download code for the ultimate heavy metal video game tie-in EP in said collector's edition. You'll be getting new songs from Killswitch Engage, Opeth, Dream Theater, Mutiny Within, Taking Dawn, and Trivium. However, if you can't get the "emptier bank account" edition, Itunes will help you out with a digital download for $5.99 starting on March 2nd. 

Roadrunner have been kind enough to give us a sneak peak into all the songs. Since these are all different artists, we decided to split up the EP between us review guys for a more broad opinion. Impressions after the jump.

Killswitch Engage-My Obsession and Taking Dawn-This is Madness
Reviewed by Riff

Killswitch isn't the first band I would pick for a video game soundtrack, much less lead the whole thing off. Dragonforce is, but they probably get asked to do everything under the music gaming sun, so I'm sure they're happy to pass the torch to KSE. Anyways, back to the song, which is one hell of a ripping affair. "Obsession" has an older feel to it, like it could squeeze onto The End of Heartache and it would fit perfectly. Maybe written a few years ago, perhaps? It also lays the case down for my favorite form of Howard Jones vocals: namely, angry Howard. Dude's belting the growl for most of the song, along with the regular harmony singing we still love him for. No soloing from Joel or Adam this time out, but their Swedish-style rhythm playing is in spades here.

All in all, a good opener for a grab-bag of bands. It's like the Monty Python theme with the bell at the beginning: It's lets you know it's time to get up and get going...... while doing a silly walk.

Final rank: Slaytanic!

A little further down the track, we find that 80's hair metal isn't the only thing Taking Dawn knows.  Now they're trying some 80's style melodic thrash. The rhythm section has their thrash boots on big time, and the solo is hella good. The one weak point is in the vocals. Lead singer Chris Babbitt sounds like he's still a bit in hair metal mode, and there's a bit of a clash in styles. While the rest of the band is ripping it up, Chris is just sounding too damn soft. However, he ears a bunch of points back by making the most game-specific lyrics out of the whole bunch. Hey, you're gonna be on a God of War soundtrack, why not sing about the Spartan army? Hey, makes sense to me.

If the vocals were more in line with the music, it's be perfect, but it's just slightly off the mark.

Final rank: Rippin!

Dream Theater-Raw Dog and Opeth-Throat of Winter
Reviewed by Sturby

As Riff mentioned, we've split up the new God of War III EP between three reviewers. I was handed the task to review the Dream Theater and Opeth tracks. People not familiar with these two bands would think that two songs is an easy tasks, but you'd be wrong. There are so many different things going on in each song, that I might was well be reviewing an entire album. That's why I love progressive metal.

10 years ago, if you were to look at this list of artists (if they all existed back then) you'd say that the odd man out was Dream Theater. They're usually a lot softer than bands like Trivium, Killswitch Engage and Opeth. But in the last couple of albums they've found this new ferocity. They've started to include things like chunky distortion and blast beats into their music, but they still make room for soft keyboard interludes and insane guitar solos. The instrumental track Raw Dog proves that the hard-hitting Dream Theater is here to stay. Clocking in at just over seven and-a-half minutes, these guys pull out all the stops. Portnoy is a torrent on the drums and Petrucci shreds every inch of life out of that guitar. Kratos is gonna kick a lot of ass when this song is playing! It's no surpirse that I give this a Slaytanic!

So, now we get to Opeth. I remember reading a while back that Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater, Steve Wilson of Porcupine Tree and Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth wanted to collaborate together on a new project. Portnoy and Wilson wanted to do something heavier than usual, and Akerfeldt wanted to do something softer. Well, here we are a few years later and both Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree have released some pretty heavy albums and Opeth, well they're doing that softer thing. Throat of Winter is what Mikael and company bring to the table and it's an acoustic guitar led folk song. Not something you would normally expect from Opeth, but not entirely out of left field (see Damnation). It's not a bad song at all, but not something I was looking forward to hearing on an EP that's called Blood & Metal. The guitar playing is very impressive and the song will fit well with the rest of Opeth's catalog, just not with the rest of these tunes. I give the song a Rippin' but because it's on this EP I'm bumping the rating down to a Meh-core

Trivium-Shattering The Skies Above and Mutiny Within-The End
Reviewed by Genresrforposers

Trivium - Shattering the Skies Above:

While I'm not typically a fan of the inconsistent vocal and instrumental work that appears in too many modern metal outfits (you know what I'm talking about: super heavy screaming verse, melodic chorus), at least Trivium is able to pull off both styles well.

The heavy guitar-driven introduction sounds more like something Devildriver or Black Dahlia Murder would do. It probably sounds like pre-The Crusade album Trivium too, but only owning that particular album from them and having a computer in no shape to look up youtube mp3s of Ascendancy at the moment, I wouldn't know. The chorus on the other hand, sounds exactly like The Crusade's style, with more melodic thrash elements and a hell of a lot more clarity in terms of lyrical content.

The mixture of styles is still off-putting to me, but damn if I wasn't humming the chorus well after the first listen and wanting more. And that comparison between the verse and Devildriver's sound is from my perspective, a very good thing. You also get a couple face-melting solos which oddly enough follow the same mixed pattern of the verse/chorus setup. The first solo is basically a speedy scale exercise, while the second is a much more composed and melodic piece of guitar dickery.

Pros: Catchy chorus, great heavy verse riff, good soloing efforts
Cons: The inconsistency in style that plagues quite a few modern metal bands when transitioning from verse to chorus

Bottom Line: For those who like a mix of heavy and melodic, or at least don't mind it when both aspects are done well
4/5; Rippin'

Munity Within - The End:
Unlike Trivium, this track has a consistent style throughout. Unfortunately, I find the style here to be melodramatic yet simultaneously dull. The vocalist has a fine voice, certainly well above the quality of plenty vocalists regardless of genre, but he doesn't use it all too interestingly. He sounds exasperated and frankly a bit whiny throughout.

If the lyrics "How can this just be the end" have anything to do with girl troubles, someone needs to find a dating site and get over it, cause the tone in this guy's voice is way over the top. On the other hand, if this is about something more serious, the fact it sounds like he's about to break down in tears is a bit unnerving to me.

The instrumentals aren't exactly awe-inspiring to me either. It sounds mostly like the typical barred chord progression of any Flyleaf-esque band to me. I believe Sturby's review mentioned this band somehow being influenced by Children of Bodom but I don't hear it here. Definitely heard the "accessible" (as much as I'm bashing the song, it will likely please mainstream audiences quite a bit more than the Trivium effort on the EP), but not the "progressive death metal and technical insanity" elements Sturby mentioned.

Now, keep in mind that as much as I'm complaining about the guy's melodramatic sadness, one could just as easily argue the heavy bits in Shattering the Skies Above are indicative of daddy issues. It might be a good track on a mellow or melancholy rainy day but I just wasn't diggin' it. Also keep in mind that while I wasn't impressed with this track, I thought the song posted in Sturby's review of their self-titled album was pretty good. But as it stands, I just wanted something with a little more balls and/or fury the few times I listened.

Pros: Vocalist is better than most, consistent style, accessible

Cons: Over-dramatic and melancholy tone, comes off as whiny, uninspiring instrumental

Bottom Line: 2.5; I forgot what Ozzfest the 2 score is supposed to represent, but basically it's not offensive to my ears and mainstream listeners may enjoy it, so I'm not punching babies over it but I'm also not makin' 'em out of excitement either.

1 comment:

  1. Yea, that Mutiny Within song is pretty disappointing when you compare it to their album. It's just a straight forward metal (hard rock) song.