Review Summary: More than "just a score."
It seems to be a common theme in video games these days, where a developer approaches a semi-established artist to do a score-soundtrack for their game. The glaringly obvious reason for this is the amount of money being thrown at the artist is a fraction of what it would cost to pay the likes of Harry Gregson-Williams to do the score. But irony plays its part here, and by getting the likes of HEALTH and Combichrist to compose the soundtracks in question, they approach their scores with unorthodox methods, and have a different eye to your everyday composer; the result is an experience far more engaging than the standard affair of most scores, and one that stands up to the Hollywood titans of Harry Gregson-Williams and Hans Zimmer. These types of albums have tons of character and are enjoyed just as much on their own merits as they are being played with their main intention; this, I feel, is down to the fact it's a band of musicians doing it, than a well-educated composer.
Similarities end there with HEALTH's Max Payne 3 soundtrack and Combichirst's DMC effort, though: HEALTH reined in on their more ambient sensibilities, reserving themselves to hone in and match what was required of the music; Combichrist's effort for DMC elevates the band in the same way as HEALTH --offering the goods for its primary job, but also showing a promising progression to the band's evolving sound-- but it delivers in a different way. The most obvious difference is that No Redemption
doesn't feel like a score in the slightest; it's an LP that could sit comfortably with the rest of their LP discography and have you not even realise it was a soundtrack for a game. There is no long-winded ambient sections, and almost every track feels like a fleshed out jam from the band. No Redemption
sees Combichrist utilising far more metal influence than ever before, while the band's industrial and electronic elements remain prevalent throughout, they tend to support the thrashy guitars and drums than be the main ingredient. "Gimmie Deathrace" and "Age of Mutation" are prime examples of a band who know how to make a good, heavy metal song and still keep their signature foundations and sound in tact. There is an ample amount of variety floating around on here, that not so much veer off-course , but adds spice and emits certain feelings to other styles and genres: the vocal delivery on "I Know What I'm Doing (Planet Treason)" and "Gotta Go" are saturated in raw energy, and give the tracks a hard-nosed punk vibe; alternatively "Zombie Fist Fight" and "Buried Alive" bring a more straight forward industrial metal tone, more akin to the likes of Powerman 5000.
Anyone who has played a Devil May Cry game will be aware of its heavy soundtracks; the dynamic of quiet and creepy when the action isn't happening, to getting the adrenaline flowing when you're cracking demon skulls. A lot like Ninja Theory themselves, Combichrist manage to recreate the old feelings any long-time fan would expect from the series. They respect the aesthetics of the games. The twist however, is both band and developer put a decent spin on anything that would feel stagnant with contemporary standards. Combichrist have created a soundtrack that is exciting, heavy and still holds all the key traits needed to make it feel like a DMC game. As with any soundtrack though, the question is whether the LP can be enjoyed on its own, and the answer is an easy yes -- though it isn't without flaws. Certain songs can come across a little awkward: "What The F*** Is Wrong With You" is lyrically terrible, and musically dull (which is probably why it was on the second disc of the album), while the likes of "Feed the Fire" just doesn't flow all that well. But there's no denying that this is one of the most enjoyable and exciting releases to come from the band to date. If you're a fan of Combichrist, it hits all the right beats from previous works, but there is a scintillating progression from the band here, that -- like HEALTH's game score debut -- makes No Redemption
more than just a score; it's a cornerstone for future releases, and the band would be foolish to dismiss it as such.
Edition: C̶D̶, CD Deluxe, M̶P̶3̶
Packaging: 6 Panel digipak.
Special Edition: The second disc is a compilation of tracks from several of their previous studio releases. Probably designed as a way of checking out the band if you've only discovered them through No Redemption
. The artwork, package design and this disc definitely make this the worthwhile version to pick up.