Behind the Music of DOOM, KILLER INSTINCT, WOLFENSTEIN: To Hell and Back with Mick Gordon

If you asked a group of people to describe Hell, each person would likely have a very personalized version of their outlook on it aside from the general expected concepts of fire and brimstone. You can imagine someone who’s petrified of the ocean would find their Hell on the bottom of the Pacific. Maybe someone with a bad experience with a root canal would find themselves strapped to a dentist's chair. My version of Hell puts me back in 1998, on the school bus at 630AM, on my way to junior high, and Brooks and Dunn is CRANKED on the bus’s speakers for the whole ride. I’m sure a professional psychologist could explain our fascination of the concept of Hell in an eloquent way, but all I know is that playing as a space marine capable of kicking some ass in DOOM is seriously fun. It’s absolutely adrenaline inducing. My full blown writeup for the review of that actual gameplay will be found aside from this, as the primary focus here is my mind blowing exchange with Mick Gordon, creator of the sonic insanity that so beautifully suits the entire demon infested experience.

For the last year or so, when I knew this new Doom was up on the horizon, I immediately started crafting my expectations. As a huge fan of video game music and composer of games music, I booted up the classic Doom soundtrack at least monthly for inspiration. I also published this nifty little nostalgic stroll along the shores of Hell. It was my hope that along with this new take on Doom that pays homage to the finer qualities of its former classic self, the music would be stylistically synchronized with the attempt to bring back what made it so great to begin with. Can a person actually cry to intense metal? I almost did! The payoff of waiting this long, the sense of generational evolution, the tribute paid to the classic feel of the game, the sheer immersion of its extremely brutal, fast paced, highly rewarding gameplay and stunning visuals that were all tied together with Mick Gordon’s juggernaut sound had me banging my head like it was my first experience at a fully immersive metal show, getting thrown around in the General Admission section. The cool thing, though, is that the dude with close genetic ties to Viking ancestors wasn't there to kick the shit out of me.

It’s not often that the music of a game can be so infectious that it triggers a deep and primal emotion, a state of mind that is naturally reserved for fight-or-flight situations that gets you excited to fight for your very survival. Unfortunately, it is often the case that the application of metal in a soundtrack can easily become a parody of itself, whether actually on purpose or not. Where Mick Gordon’s work transcends this obstacle is in the sophistication of arrangement and the ingenious application of physical creation tools, using much less digital components than one would expect. His techniques in sound creation and continuously changing dynamics symbolize the depth of the environment and the intensity of its inherent supercharged action. The very energy of Hell that causes the supernatural to manifest are masterfully represented in the extreme and beautiful intensity of Doom's score. With fully paid respect to the history of Doom, Mick Gordon has delivered a soundtrack that not only evokes pure excitement, serving the rapid fire onscreen action, but also feels like a victory in and of itself—Doom is back and the music is even better than ever. Check out our conversation to hear just how far Mick was willing to go to conjure Doom’s brutally exciting sound!

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