|SAMPLING ISN’T ORIGINAL! PHONEY!|
Platinum Games has gathered one hell of a talent pool, but their in-house composer (Naoto Tanaka) stands out more and more each time I hear his work. The man has the ability to tackle a bunch of different styles, but he’s at his best when he’s just allowed to be as over the top and energetic as he can. His work for the Anarchy Reigns soundtrack is easily his masterwork so far, taking a basic rap style and really going all out with the possibilities of the genre. It’s far more varied than I was originally expecting from the MadWorld score’s uniform style. It’s rough around the edges at times, but also endlessly addictive. Where it works and doesn’t work depends on the rappers being used. See, Tanaka worked on sampling the incredible backtracks and giving directions to the artists contacted, leaving them to breathe in their own personal touch, to a wide range of results.
Sick YG (returning from MadWorld) sends out his rhymes with incredible speed, and the lyrics themselves never feel stale. It’s amazing how much he manage to pack in with each of his three tracks, but he doesn’t quite manage to stand out among the rest of the artists. Tre-Dot fares better with a slightly slower style and much deeper and powerful vocals. Ruthless makes for a great introduction track, while Laughing at U and Rock On make for really upbeat and punchy tracks. The gloating in them is just flat out fun. Skitz the Samurida uses a style more in the middle ground of the two, much faster than both but at the cost of some lyrical punch. All of his tracks are solid, with Unlimited Resources sticking out as the highlight, followed close by My Town, My City. Unlimited Resources benefits greatly from the synth gluing the backtrack together, but the gloating lyrics themselves are so blunt that they work better than they should.
|Where’s the boomstick?|
Ox, the main artists for MadWorld, get three great tracks this go. Lights Out and Sound the Alarm stick close to MadWorld‘s jazzy sound, with Sound the Alarm acting as the stronger one by sticking closer to this style. Kill ‘Em All, sadly, gets outshined by Merciless from Theory Hazit. They each use the exact same backtrack, but Merciless has far more creative rhymes, while Ox just repeat “Kill them all” for most of their version. Theory Hazit’s other track, Here We Go, just sort of blends in with the rest of the soundtrack, despite sporting equally strong rhymes. Speaking of blending in, Wonder Brown’s two tracks manage to be solid but uninteresting on their own.
Bandy Leggz handles two tracks for some of the female members of the cast, and each are wildly different from one another and the rest of the soundtrack. I Know U Want Me is a fast paced explosion of energy with electric guitar samples, while the song itself is a strange confession of love from someone who appears to be a sado-masochist and sadist. It’s creative, while It’s All About Me goes with an extreme narcissist angle and a more poppy, distorted style. Rushden & Diamonds steal her thunder, however, when it comes to comedic music. Fast Lane is a solid fast moving track, but They Came From Underground easily takes a spot as one of the strongest tracks in the score. The song takes the view of two random researchers who mock and kill mutant creatures, throwing out a lot of clever wordplay. It helps one of them sounds like a mad German scientist and the other sounds like a white wannabe rapper, mixing perfectly with backtrack fitting a more sci-fi funk thing.
|Your body on blue flavored energy drinks.|
Doujah Raze might have the oddest quality ratio on the soundtrack. Testin’ Me, the theme for the heroic Leo, is notable for being the most original track in the score in terms of themes and speed, but the lyrics leave a lot to be desired. They can’t seem to decide if the subject is a hardened and tired warrior or one who’s just as insane as everyone else. Plus, “Battlin’ my enemies/ till I reach my destiny” is just weak. Gotta Get The Cash somewhat makes up for this, while We Play makes a stronger case for Doujah Raze’s skill with a great use of lyrical hooks and perfect flow with the backtrack. But then you get to Find You, the final boss track, which they just blow out of the water. The lyrics and rhymes are some of the best here, while Tanaka outdoes himself by sampling oppressive choirs and tons of other oppressive sounds. I am still not sick of this song, and I have had to have listened to it a few hundred times.
muzeONE handled Jaw and Venom, both very oppressive tracks in their own right in different ways. Jaw really sounds self-confident and has the best use of hooks in the soundtrack, stopping the track itself to create a much stronger beat. Venom is much more hectic, creating a sense of urgency. The rhymes come out much faster and the siren in the back makes for a great little touch that makes that sense of urgency flow throughout the track. Josh Clemons only gets one track, but it’s a good offering called Play My Ass Off. The track was used often during the game’s early advertising, easy to see as it’s very cocky and memorable. It’s not particularly good, but it’s fun and easy to listen to whenever.
Dilated Peoples, arguably the biggest names here, handled the ending track of This Is Madness. It’s a strongly structured track, with a simple but effective backtrack that lets the crew do their stuff and do it well. One complaint is that it’s a bit too on the nose with the setting of the game. Last and certainly not least is Vstylez, taking MDK’s and Days of Old, the theme of the Black Motherfuckin’ Baron! They instantly have a much more gleeful, clownish style, matching with the Baron perfectly. MDK’s makes for a blood-pumping track itself, but Days of Old stands out big time as a surprisingly well thought out song of celebration and remembering the better days. It’s just pure enjoyment trapped in two minutes and forty seconds of sound with speedy delivery.
When the soundtrack is good, it’s really, really good. It never reaches an outright bad status, but it does have predictable lows that feel more like going through the motions than anything. The soundtrack is a tad bloated as a result, but those weaker moments are still enjoyable. Since each track is relatively short, you can easily skip onto the better stuff with little fuss. With thirty-two tracks total, it’s a damn fine set, highly recommended if you enjoy some cheesy music and love rap. Even if you don’t like rap, this is a solid entry set to the genre.
- Find You
- They Came From Underground
- Unlimited Resources
- I Know U Want Me
- We Play
- Days of Old
- My Town, My City