H-Pi ~ Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood
With OSTs like DOOM and DOOM Eternal, it’s been a good time for rock and metal in videogame music. H-Pi’s Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood joins the fray with a powerful set of tracks that seamlessly blend genres to good effect: action film-style orchestration with power metal, some ambient, and even a bit of EDM here and there. The music aptly captures the sense of transformation and fluid identity that marks the figure of the werewolf, built from continual tension and the occasional foray into melancholy, springing into stark aggression and violence when the pressure has gone too far. Tracks like “Crinos Rage” or “Bleeding Soul” best exemplify H-Pi’s approach to genre fusion, which emphasizes not what makes each style work on its own to then let them all blur into each other, but the possibilities each can bring to a composition with a particular emotional aim. Mostly, those emotions have something to do with rage, but regardless of its limited range in that regard, the music is seamless – as the flute (yes, flute) dialogues with the heavy metal guitar in “A Song of Claws and Poison”, a scene of both soft eloquence and guttural expression comes to be. There’s no subtlety here, and yet tracks like that achieve the holy grail of symphonic metal bands everywhere: grace in chaotic, furious sentiments.
Arkadiusz Reikowski & Brunon Lubas ~ Vampire: The Masquerade ~ Coteries of New York
Of a similar vibe to Werewolf but developing in a completely different register, Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York prefers to utilize its fury with precision. While arguably also a rock OST Vampire tends towards the industrial gothic aesthetic, with its droney electronics and its urban soundscapes of dark ambience. Slow beats, grinding noises, the occasional riff, and great use of classical instruments for chilling effect form the black heart of this soundtrack. At the very center of it all lies a standout piece: “The Most Beautiful Of The Kindred”, a sad, swaying elegy for an existence in which there is little left other than aesthetic pleasure no longer directly lived, only hungered for. Arkadiusz Reikowski & Brunon Lubas effectively articulate electronics and rock as interpretive tools for meditative suffering and hostility, a slow-burning, noisy, sometimes even psychedelic approach to violence. In contrast with Werewolf, this is not an overt, aggressively bodied cruelty of means, but one that happens at other, much less direct levels. Another decisive instance of this feeling is “The Brujah”, in which both composers collaborated to create an expansive drone of guitar and electronics that grows and decays and grows yet again like a dream-state, simultaneously repetitive and uncertain. It is difficult to know where the reverb and the feedback will lead to, and yet there is a constant beat, almost at the top of the mix, that ceaselessly reminds us that this mental morass is inescapable. The future bodes well for the rock OST. (David Murrieta Flores)