REVIEW: Halo 4 Original and Remixed Soundtrack
Title: Halo 4 Original Soundtrack
Composed by: Neil Davidge
Publisher: 343 Industries
Here’s a first: a review of a soundtrack, right here at GGS Gamer? Specifically that of Master Chief’s next adventure? Halo 4 is fast approaching, and we know we’re in for a real treat, but what does the audiophile in us think of it? With Halo staple Martin O’Donnell not working on this particular iteration in the Halo saga, it’s time to see what 343i is cooking up.
In comes Neil Davidge of electronica group Massive Attack. His resume is most impressive, having worked with the likes of Mos Def, Snoop Dogg, and David Bowie. But how will his chops fair when taking on the legacy that is Halo and Master Chief?
It’s almost weird how happenstance managed to land Davidge in his role with Halo 4. As an avid Halo fan, Davidge had explained in an interview with Complex that he often used the multiplayer shooter as his Muse. Going out for a walk or finding something to munch on sometimes didn’t do the trick. He found himself picking Halo up and popping it into his Xbox to clear up his head a little, when things just weren’t going the right way.
I digress. This isn’t a review on who Davidge is as a person, but rather his work with the Halo 4 soundtrack. We don’t have any visuals or gameplay to match up with the music, so it isn’t going to have the full impact of being in a firefight with music thrumming in your ears, but on its own, the tracks so far have shown a lot of diversity. From first listen, the track “Awakening” literally does feel like an awakening, starting slow and eventually moving into a faster-paced piece, no doubt to go along with the feeling of, “Where the fuck am I and what the hell just happened?”
As the tracks progressed, you can tell that Davidge spent a lot of time into making sure the music was diverse, but also representative of what may be happening in game. Again, we don’t really have any hands-on with the game to tell you what kind of an effect this may have while you’re playing, but the music is definitely powerful in its own right. The track “Solace” is a great example of the more emotional kind of music you’ll end up getting during your campaign in Halo 4. Most of the music will be fast, adrenaline rushing pieces designed to get you pumped for shooting down the Covenant and the Forerunners.
That doesn’t work if you have it going all the time.
As if to immediately switch it up, the beginning bars of “Immaterial” featured atmospheric music more suited to the likes of an abandoned hallway in Silent Hill. Kid you not. Dissonant chords mixed in with distorted piano keys will definitely set your hair on end, and it has me wondering just where you’ll end up hearing the piece during the game. Enter the Forerunners, or something else?
Davidge sports a very, very different style to O’Donnell. While O’Donnell had a more rock n’roller, “kicking down the door” kind of punch, Davidge has a more atmospheric quality to his tracks, but with an edge. It’s not quite as meaty as previous Halo soundtracks, but at the same time, Davidge does a stellar job in compiling a soundtrack that conveys a sense of danger, ass-kicking time, and even a horrific menacing edge.
The remixes, on the other hand, sound like they belong in the finest clubs on Omega with Asaris on a pole. That wasn’t a complaint — it’s admirable how someone can take a track, brimming with a sense of honor and duty, and tweak it into a nightclub thumper. There’s a bit of wub wub going on somewhere, but the remixed tracks have some life in them. While I’m not a huge fan of the remixes, they are kind of fun to listen to.
So what’s not to love? There’s really nothing to complain about with the music in Neil Davidge’s hands. Some have already begun to scrutinize the change in styles, but there’s just one thing you have to keep in mind: Neil Davidge isn’t Martin O’Donnell. For any fan of Halo or video gaming music, this soundtrack would be a very worthy piece to add to your collection.
And we can’t wait to see how it all fits together.
The Halo 4 soundtrack will be released on October 22nd in several forms: there will be an Original Soundtrack available through physical and digital retail. There will also be a special digital edition release that will contain the full original soundtrack along with just six remixed tracks. A very special edition of the soundtrack boxset, which includes both the original soundtrack and all 16 remixed tracks, will be available on November 6th. Those who are buying Halo 4 as part of the Limited Special Edition Boxset will receive this version of the soundtrack as well, and includes signed goodies, behind-the-scenes videos, and other neat swag for the ultimate Halo fan.
Halo 4 is set to deploy on Xbox 360 November 6th.