TOP 5 HARD ROCK SONGS WRITTEN FOR VIDEO GAMES
An article by Kris Kielich
Gaming and hard rock seem meant for one another, don’t they? There’s something innately satisfying about shredding through a group of foes in a game while your favorite hard rock or metal track blasts in the background. It’s the ultimate action movie fantasy.
It’s a rarity that gaming and hard rock bands collide on a totally original level where an artist actually records a song specifically for use in a video game. Most times songs are simply licensed out (Puddle of Mudd’s “Blurry” in Ace Combat 5, for example) or just a part of a large soundtrack (any Tony Hawk, EA Sports, or racing game).
But when bands do record original songs for games, you tend to never forget which game they came from, and it makes them a little bit more special in your memory. So here my top 5 hard rock songs that were specifically written for a video game.
1. Blow Me Away – Breaking Benjamin
Chances are there wasn’t a Halo 2 fan that either didn’t play this while playing the game or didn’t have it on mp3 stored away. Recorded for the Halo 2 soundtrack, this was a match made in heaven.
Ben Burnley, frontman of Breaking Benjamin is a massive gamer, so he and the band jumped at the chance to add music to one of the biggest selling video game franchises of all time. And the song is still one of Breaking Benjamin’s most popular songs and remains a staple of live performances, partly thanks to the exposure it got. This is a song that’s literally about being caught up in the heat of a battle, so it still finds regular rotation on my Ipod when I’m playing any shooter.
2. Not Ready to Die – Avenged Sevenfold
The first of two original songs Avenged Sevenfold would record for the massive Call of Duty franchise, this song was included in the Nazi Zombies map expansion entitled “Call of the Dead” for the original Black Ops game in 2011. The song features those classic Avenged Sevenfold intricate guitar licks as well as some rare screaming from M. Shadows.
Not to mention, it was the first song ever recorded with their second drummer, Arin Ilejay, and it features a nice little nod to the classic Black Ops Zombies theme, “Damned” as a piano motif and guitar motif at the end of the song.
3. With My Mind – Cold
One of the more forgotten Alt-Metal bands of the early and mid 2000’s, Cold recorded this song for the soundtrack to Psi Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy.
Directly referencing abilities and themes of the game in the lyrics, this song is a bit more melancholic than the other songs on this list, in typical Cold fashion.
Scooter Ward is an underrated frontman for sure, and I always found a special place for Cold’s music, especially since it reminds me of my high school days. The track is atmospheric and has a great anthemic chorus. It may not be a more well known track, but it’s worth rediscovering all the same.
4. Devils Never Cry – Shawn McPherson (of Hostile Groove), Tetsuya Shibata, and David Baker
With a fast paced and frenetic hack and slash game series like Devil May Cry, you need a fast paced and frenetic rock track to back it up. This track, recorded for Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening, is an aggressive industrial/aggrotech blitz of a song with harsh vocals by Shawn McPherson of the band Hostile Groove, and clean vocals provided by David Baker.
The music was written by Tetsuya Shibata, but this isn’t your typical video game music. There are super crunchy guitars on this thing and a haunting organ and chorus intro that sucks you right in before blowing your head off when the verse kicks in. The breakbeat backing is a perfect mirror to cutting your enemies to pieces in this game, and it served as a nice little teaser to what Combichrist would do later in their own Devil May Cry soundtrack work.
5. 115 – Elena Siegman and Kevin Sherwood
We’re taking it back to Call of Duty Black Ops for this great track recorded as the Easter egg music track for the zombies map “Kino Der Toten,” though you can actually hear it as far back as the game over screen for World at War’s zombie map, “Der Reise.”
I hesitate to even call this hard rock, because the music on this track is straight up melodic death metal. If you’re a fan of bands like Scar Symmetry or Sonic Syndicate, you’ll love this one. If you’ve played Black Ops, chances are you’ve heard it already, but if you’re not a gamer or haven’t touched the series, this is a track worth looking up for sure.
Kevin Sherwood must be a metal fan, because man he nailed this one. And Elena Siegman, who’s lent her voice to almost every track recorded for Nazi Zombies, gives in my opinion her best performance on this track.
I am pleased to host such an interesting article combining videogames and hard rock songs by amazing music journalist Kris Kielich. To find out more about Kris, sneak peek into his music background and bio at:
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