Sure, one COULD simply soundtrack a video game featuring cyborg demons armed with jetpacks and shoulder-mounted rocket launchers the same way they soundtrack other video games. But where the hell is the fun in that?

DOOM (2016)
“Flesh & Metal”
Mick Gordon

That is apparently not even a rhetorical question, but rather would appear to be thoroughly literal in the case of 2016's DOOM. Hearing how—yes, I’m never going to stop spelling this thing in fucking all-fucking-caps, deal with it—DOOM composer Mick Gordon tells it, it took a fundamental change in the creation process to eventually forge the best soundtrack, hands-down, from last year, arguably maybe even the best of this whole decade.

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This thing is a ten-dimensional, wire-thin balancing act executed without breaking a sweat: Treading the line between over-the-top hilarious and serious business yet completely abstaining from ever coming off as “joke music,” on the precipice where industrial, thrash metal, nu metal, and symphonic music somehow together meet. Battlefield ought to take notes, because DOOM is the textbook example of the right goddamn way to turn a whole bunch of electronic instruments into a symphony. 

One of the best single instances of this unholy synthesis in action is “Flesh & Metal,” probably my favorite piece from the game. The part that always sticks out the most in the heat of gameplay is that gaudily distorted nu metal-ass guitar riff (see 1:09), but everything else surrounding that bit is just as golden. The demented synth glitch-outs are the connective tissue that naturally tie the industrial and nu metal touches together, and that is a big reason why thrash djents can jackhammer their way through the midsection without sounding out of place.

But this is no industrial song, or thrash song, or nu metal song; it’s actually far from any of these, in fact. Rather, the composition and arrangement—the way it ebbs and flows, the multiple mini-movements, the occasional time signature trickery—have “symphonic” written all over it. Having that framework in place lends cinematic scope and impact to the rest of the proceedings, and that is what ultimately makes “Flesh & Metal” so epic.

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RedStripe Loved Trax—originally from days of Tumblr past—is a series about the music Justin adores, with special emphasis on songs from (or introduced by) video games and anime.