Soundtracks can easily be overlooked in the development of video games, but they have always been extremely important in other types of media such as movies and TV shows. With the evolution of games, and its departure from a strictly visual activity towards story-telling, world-building, immersive campaigns developing a soundtrack that complements the game became paramount.
Rhythm games have also found a place in the industry, but those soundtracks weren’t actually contributing as much to world-building and immersion, as they were core mechanics of the games. However, the actual soundtracks evolved so much that it isn’t uncommon to have entire orchestras on tour playing video game songs, the Kingdom Hearts orchestra for instance is one among many examples of the evolution of songs in games.
Nonetheless, a string quartet isn’t able to encapsulate all emotions in the world, and for the times where something more liberating, infuriating, and demon-slaying comes up the gaming industry has looked into the heavy metal musicians for comfort. What follows is a list of the best metal soundtracks that gaming has seen so far:
1 – Killing Floor 2
Tripwire Interactive’s most famous first-person shooter is a prime example of how a brutal soundtrack can enhance the cathartic feeling of mass-murdering zombie-like failed scientific experiments. Both the original game and the sequel rely heavily on the heavy metal genre to amplify the killing-machine feelings inside players.
- Murderer by Impending Doom
- Bitter End by Fit For a King
- Death by Demon Hunter
- Something More by Living Sacrifice
2 – Guilty Gear
The entirety of the Japanese fighting franchise consists of some of the most memorable original heavy metal soundtracks in video game history. The games were always praised for their technical prowess, combat variety, and distinguished soundtracks. Guilty Gear was considered the best 2D fighting game made, and figured in Complex’s “Top 100 Video Game Franchises” list at number forty-seven. Daisuke Ishiwatari is the man responsible for creating and composing the amazing original soundtrack of the Guilty Gear franchise, while other composers have been featured in the projects, Ishiwatari is the mastermind.
- Sheep Will Sleep (If You Become Fatigued)
- A Solitude That Asks Nothing In Return
- Still In The Dark
- Kill DOG As A Sacrifice To DOG
3 – Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Konami's long-standing franchise made a very abrupt change of direction in terms of genre, gameplay, soundtrack, combat with this Metal Gear title. Obviously, the stealth mission-based approach has nothing in common with this hack-n-slash futuristic title, but the fact this was a fast-paced loud game allowed for a heavier original soundtrack, which paired nicely with the game.
- A Stranger I Remain -Free Dominguez
- Rules of Nature – Jason Charles Miller
- The Stains of Time – Kit Walters
- It Has To Be This Way – Jimmy Gnecco
4 – Brutal Legend
Created by Double Fine Productions in partnership with Jack Black, Brutal Legend was a weird open-world, driving, guitar-smashing title that bled metal all the way through. From featuring Black himself, along with Lemmy Kilmister, Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Halford, and Lita Ford to the beautifully crafted soundtrack, this title might be the most unique fusion between metal and gaming we have seen. The game had over one hundred metal tracks from seventy-five different bands which ensured there was something for every metalhead out there.
- Symptom of the Universe – Black Sabbath
- Painkiller – Judas Priest
- Her Ghost in The Fog – Cradle of Filth
- Goliaths Disarm Their Davids – In Flames
- Tornado of Soul – Megadeath
- Mr. Crowley – Ozzy Osbourne
5 – Quake
The first-person shooter released in 1996, was an instant classic. Riding on ID Software’s massive success with the first Doom game, Quake instead relied on a gothic aesthetic and Lovecraftian tales. Despite its critical acclaim the half of the game developers left the team claiming irreconcilable differences and creative visions surrounding the project.
Luckily the project was completed, and gamers had a fantastic shooter at hand which was accompanied by an original soundtrack developed by Nine Inch Nails. A curious aspect of the soundtrack is that Trent Reznor was a massive fan of the developers and agreed to provide his services for free. What we got was a heavy, dirty, eerie soundtrack done by, arguably, the best industrial metal band to ever do it.
- Quake’s Theme
- The Hall of Souls
6 – Devil May Cry: Definitive Edition
The frantic, action-adventure, frantic hack and slash franchise has a long tradition of incorporating heavy metal tracks into its game. At Capcom’s request, this iteration of the game was developed by Ninja Theory, and it was a complete reboot and overhaul of the long-standing series. The game itself received mixed receptions with fans not particularly fond of it, and critics giving positive reviews, nonetheless, Capcom nailed the soundtrack.
Comprised of two relatively unknown bands Noisia and Combichrist, Dante’s adventure slaughtering demons and freeing the world from their cruelty is perfectly encompassed by this straightforward metal soundtrack.
- Gimme Deathrace
- Pull The Pin
- No Redemption
7 – Doom (2016)
Mick Gordon became responsible for composing some of the gaming industry’s most distinctive metal soundtracks for games like Killer Instinct, Wolfenstein, Prey, and countless other collaborations. But he was propelled to stardom after he crafted what might be regarded as the best metal soundtrack gaming has ever seen in Doom’s 2016 reboot.
While the same craftsmanship was expected for Doom Returnal, Gordon’s professional relationship with ID Software became sour and fans would never see his complete work in a Doom game again. The good news is that his legacy will forever live on, as a perfect companion for the demon curb-stomping, gory shoot-out, melee massacre perpetrated by the Doom Slayer.
The game was widely regarded as a marvelous accomplishment from Bethesda and ID software, but even with so much appraisal coming in every direction, the soundtrack is something that stood out to fans and became a stand-alone project for many metalhead gamers out there. This soundtrack is so good that non-gamer metalheads should definitely listen to it, even if they miss the chance to obliterate demons while doing it.
- BFG Division
- Rip & Tear
- At Doom’s Gate
- Rust, Dust & Guts