Doom’s Manic Metal Gets Your Ass Moving

Image: id Software / Kotaku

Welcome to Morning Music, Kotaku’s daily hangout for folks who love video games and the cool-ass sounds they make. Today we’re going to Hell. I hope you packed a shotgun and some armor shards.

There aren’t many games that have a better start than 1993’s groundbreaking first-person shooter Doom (playlist / longplay / VGMdb). You hit enter, the menu dissolves, and you are standing in a research station on Phobos with a pistol and demons to kill. Within seconds you’re running around at breakneck speeds while shotgunning enemies through wildly creative levels. Doom was groundbreaking at the time and still holds up to this day, which is impressive. But while cutting-edge visuals and gameplay were the star of Doom, the frenetic, shredding music helped carry the whole thing forward. Without Doom’s music, the game would still be great, but maybe not as iconic.

Let’s take a listen:

id Software / Jim DarkMagic (YouTube)

Doom’s very first track, “At Doom’s Gate,” is an incredible punch to the head. It’s the kind of song that makes you want to move, which is exactly what you should be doing in Doom. I challenge people to listen to that song and not want to run around. I’ve known healthier folks than myself who use some of Doom’s soundtrack as part of their workout routine. Makes sense to me. Plus, seems like a smart choice, I mean, have you seen the Doomguy? Ripped as Hell. But not all of Doom’s music is fast and powerful. The game also has some moody tracks that are similarly great, like E2M2’s “The Demons From Adrian’s Pen.”

id Software / Jim DarkMagic (YouTube)

Doom’s iconic soundtrack was composed by Bobby Prince, who would go on to do music for other popular games including Duke Nukem 3D and Rise of the Triad, as well as Doom II. And yes, it’s become a well-known fact that some (but not all) of the songs in Doom are heavily inspired by some classic heavy metal tracks. And even the ones that are clearly taking inspiration from Metallica are, in my opinion, different enough to stand on their own. For example, one of my favorite tracks from Doom is “I Sawed the Demons” which is almost for sure pulling some bits from ACDC’s “Big Gun.” But I don’t think it makes the song any less catchy and it’s still its own thing, even if you can clearly pinpoint its origin.

id Software / Jim DarkMagic (YouTube)

Ultimately, the music of Doom, like the game itself, is a giant part of pop culture and to this day I occasionally hear some of these tracks remixed or used in other places, like YouTube videos. And the recent Doom games have pulled from these classic tracks too, and for good reason: These songs rip and tear.

That’s it for today’s Morning Music! Hope you had a good weekend! If not, listen to some more Doom music. That always makes me happier! See you tomorrow!

Kotaku Weekend Editor | Zack Zwiezen is a writer living in Kansas. He has written for GameCritics, USgamer, Kill Screen & Entertainment Fuse.


Faux Bravo

I had never played more than maybe the first level on Doom in the past. But Tim Rogers’ review made me grab it for the Switch and futz round for a bit. I’m, like, four levels in? It’s pretty cool to experience the music as an adult who appreciates it more. Especially coming off of playing Doom 2016 and Eternal this year. I now see a lot of the original in Doom 2016 and kind of realize how much more of a departure Eternal was. Reference points are good.

My favorite track of any of the games is the less aggressive title screen music in Doom Eternal. I guess it’s the main theme? I’d often start the game before I was ready to sit down and play and just let it loop while I was doing other stuff. It’s one of the rare times when I actually wanted to listen to video game music. The section where the music drops off at around a minute in and then slowly builds back until the guitar blasts in again gives me chills.

I managed to stay on plan yesterday and play a couple hours of Pathfinder: Kingmaker. I’m not too far in, but it’s been pretty engaging. I only have four characters right now, but I’m digging the ones I have. The last thing I did was clear my name with Jamandi. Now I’m poking around with some side locations before I move on.

It’s weird to play Pathfinder, which I knew spawned from DnD, but didn’t realize how on the nose it was. A friend pointed out that it is DnD, just a modified version. I like it a lot, though. I think the only things I’d change are weight limits and how often you need to rest. I’m an idiot and it took me a little bit of messing around before I needed to change the slider and rest for a certain amount of time to get rid of the effects of exhaustion or to get spells back.

The art style is cool, too. I like that it’s a little more crazy than a lot of the CRPGs. It’s got just a touch of Warcraft to its visuals. Things like the fact that greatswords are, like, seven feet long and wide as hell, or that Valerie’s shield could be used as a two-person raft in a pinch. I like that kind of exaggeration. Kickstart another one and hire Joe Madureira to do the art and that would be just fine with me. Not that I ever even finished Battle Chasers: Nightwar. I guess there are existing options for me to get that fix.

Anyway, Doom has sick music across the board and high five for Pathfinder: Kingmaker. Can’t wait to meet some more new and interesting characters and see what kind of craziness the game has to offer.