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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Top Ten Classic Doom and Doom II Tracks

Doom  recently celebrated it's 20th anniversary and  few games since can get anywhere near the level of aural perfection contained in the soundtracks of Doom and Doom II.  For this reason doom has arguably one of the greatest game soundtracks of all time. It's a perfectly laid soundscape which provides the perfect accompaniment to your journey to hell and back. With that in mind, we undertook the unenviable task of isolating and ranking the ten best Doom tracks from the original two games. The following ten songs are not only some of the finest in Doom, but some of the best video game music ever composed.

10. They're Going to Get You

The eerie, simplistic rhythm of the bass strings which introduce this track soon gives way to an unnerving choir which rises and falls upon the course of a simple yet haunting scale. The song stays unsettlingly quiet throughout and is effective in its attempt to instill what can only be described as  a weird feeling as you proceed into the level. While other tracks portray the rage or despair of the underworld, 'They're Going to Get You' offers a mysterious side of hell; a tune that sounds as if you crossed into a new dimension, free of the fire and intensity most associated with hell, but an unknown place, housing the souls and spirits of the fallen as they watch you proceed. The song is laden with the occult yet never truly escalates beyond a loud whisper. Located in the heart of the second episode, 'They're Going to Get You' is the perfect soundtrack for your transition from the comforts of man-made familiarity, to the unknown world that Deimos is quickly warping into.

9. Waltz of the Demons

Waltz of the demons starts off with horror movie style staccato strings and slowly layers in strings while being punctuated with sudden upsweeps. It eventually moves into an melancholy baroque melody that seems like the background to a Danse Macabre. This is an unique Doom track in that  it's eerie, but doesn't leave you feeling uneasy like some of the other tracks. It seems like something you'd hear played on a dusty old gramophone, more than the backdrop to demon killing. Somehow though the juxtaposition still works, like a film that uses classical pieces over scene of extreme violence. All told this is a bewitching tune and due to it's novelty is one of the most memorable in the game.

8. Into Sandy's City

Nobody thought a harpsichord could kick this much ass before Bobby Prince jokingly threw it into this track. But the boys at Id spoiled the legengary digital composer's fun by nodding their approval for this unique Doom II jingle. And it's good that they did, as few DOOM tracks can match the intensity and energy of this song's brilliant melding of rhythm and melody. It's a track that brings to mind the Doom Guy clambering to the edge of one of the mountains of the underworld, looking down upon the sprawling wickedness of hell as the burning winds and red sky swirl around him, before finally jumping down to take it all on at once. The only weakness in the song is when it hits the staccato strings section and remains there until the loop, somewhat tempering the original strength of the track.

7. Shawn's Got The shotgun

This starts off aggressive with a hard build up and relaxes into a heavy metal chorus of the main theme accented with some heavy rhythmic drum hits from time to time. This track is easily the best Metal based tracks on the whole Doom soundtrack and while it's inspired by Slayer's south of Heaven it manages to be a wholly different song. Hard, Heavy and Perfect for a bloody descent into hell.

6. Suspense

While most doom tracks are hard rock anthems to ass kicking, a few of them are haunting melodies that impart despair, dread and distress. Suspense starts with solemn solitary strings, and layers in ominous bass and melancholy melody. It feels old and eerie, you're grouping around in the dark, anxious and terrified but  you have to press on to survive. It's almost a shame that such a great atmospheric piece is placed in Phobos lab as while it's got it's fair share of dark hallways it's a pretty open and airy level. This track also made it on to our list of creepiest game songs indicative of just how unsettling it is in any context.

5. Deep Into The Code

Robert Prince had a way of isolating the best part of whatever song he was sampling, and sticking with it throughout the entirety of the track. Heavily influenced from the opening to Slayer's "Behind the Crooked Cross," the unshakable riff of Deep Into The Code reminds you of how head-bobbingly fun demon slaying can be. In some ways it might feel out of place, featured exclusively in one of the original Doom's most demonic levels, but at the same time, something about a heavy metal band's riff accompanying your romp through Pandemonium just seems to click in such a beautiful way.

4. Untitled

It would be foolish of me not to start this out by pointing out this song is largely a remix of Pantera's Mouth for War. That being said this song zeroes in on the fantastic main riff of that song and hits and hits it hard throughout. It's the opening track for the first level of inferno and it's perfect in that capacity. It's got the dark gritty feeling that lets you know you're in Hell  but the hard rock sound that let you know you're gonna kick some ass.

3. Nobody Told Me About Id

When the haunting accordion of this track fades into prominence, it hums almost tauntingly to the player, as if the level itself knows something you don't. By the time the pounding bass drum and
assaulting melody joins in, it is immediately clear that whatever awaits you in the Tower of Babel is unlike anything you've seen in the previous 15 levels. With the addition of the infectious percussion, the eventual battle with the iconic Cyberdemon is granted an ambiance of both fun and terror, something that seems to say "ready or not, he's coming for you...!"

2. Sign of Evil

Although unable to surmount the iconic status of the top-ranked song, Sign of Evil, in terms of pure musical quality, may be the best track in all of classic DOOM. The song first appears in Phobos Anomaly, the level many of us came to know as the final stop of the shareware version of the game. The plodding pace of the percussion greets the player before baleful voices fade in, like the choir of a godless temple. Soon after comes a somber guitar melody which creates a chill-inducing medley of mournful sound which seems to say "You have no idea how hopeless this is." An appropriate soundtrack to the level, for as the Doom Guy believes he's finally reached the end of his nightmare, he's given his first real look at the demonic forces which await him in the form of the memorable first boss encounter of the game. And all he gets for his eventual victory is an inescapable room swelled with hell-spawn who rip and tear at his flesh before the episode ends. All of which seemed to be prophesied by the haunting tones of Sign of Evil, which never once offers a glimmer of hope within its doleful story.

1. At Doom's Gate

This is the quintessential doom song. Every doom fan has at one time hummed this song while wielding a toy gun, random object that resembles a gun, or an abnormally passive cat.  Sure it helps that it's the first track of  the game, but that alone doesn't make it stick in our collective gaming memories. The fact is that it's a really great song and  perhaps one of the greatest opening tracks in Video Game history. It's got a catchy pop sensibility with a hard metal undercurrent. It gets you pumped to start slaughtering the demonic hordes, without being overwhelming.  It strikes just the right balance of badassery and cheerful optimism.  The doomguy is not only perfectly primed to send a horde of demons back to hell with a shotgun in his hand, he's gonna do it with a smile on is face.

It was hard work to narrow down two games worth amazing tracks to just 10 but we feel confident we've presented with you with the best of the best Doom has to offer.

~Stephanie and Richard

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