Quantum Rage: Songs for Deathmatch
Quantum Rage is the first and only deathmatch music CD. This audio CD is a collection of original, intense music designed expressly for listening while playing deathmatch, such as Quake II, Unreal, or any other action-packed video game. Add some LIFE to your DEATHMATCH!
|1. Quantum Rage|
|4. Steady Systematic Decline|
|8. And God Spoke|
I’ve been composing music for a number of years now, and have always been an avid video gamer. Since the beginning, I’ve always been very interested in the sound and music of video games. This is what lead me to eventually create “Songs for Deathmatch”. My musical tastes are pretty varied, but I generally like dark music, be it NIN, or Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring”. My biggest influences right now are Korn, NIN, Alice in Chains, etc. Some of my favorite bands of all time are Rush, Van Halen and U2, although my current music is in a different direction than those bands.
I’d have to say that my all time favorite game soundtrack is for Quake. I’m not saying this just because Trent Reznor created it. It’s actually quite different than his NIN work. I just love the dark haunting sound textures and ambience he creates – very original, easily rivaling many a film soundtrack.
Besides music, I have a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Cincinnati, and am a full-time Systems Analyst/Web Developer. Nevertheless, music is always first, though.
Gigadeth Productions provides original soundtrack music for today’s video games. Gigadeth Productions is very focused on obtaining the highest production qualities. Writing the song is only half-way there. You then must focus on creative recording techniques, post-production enhancements and the final polished digital mastering.
- State-of-the-art sampling and sound-creation technology
- Complete digital-audio workstation: Sample-editing, HD recording, Post-production
- Possibly every guitar effects foot pedal ever made
- CD Mastering, etc
To hear my latest work, check out some samples here or ORDER my CD, Quantum Rage – “Songs for Deathmatch”.
3D Realms used a song I created as the theme music for their Duke Nukem Forever promo video at this year’s E3. Go to www.3drealms.com and download a copy of it and check it out!
Last year, id Software used one of my songs as the soundtrack for their Quake 2 preview at the 1997 E3 show in Atlanta.
The Idea Behind “Songs for Deathmatch”
the idea behind the Songs for Deathmatch series: you buy a new video game. after the first 100 hours or so, the music that came with the game is starting to sound mighty stale, irritating, possibly even causing a rash. you’ve played your NIN, prodigy, slim whitman cds to death. you needsomething new. imagine a cd of the most intense music that can completely infuse new life and energy into those endless nights of game-playing. this is it. reach new levels of excitement and intensity in whatever game you are playing; unreal tournament, quake3 arena, cosmopolitan virtualmake-over, etc.
beyond deathmatch…these cds are also compatible with real life (TM) and can be used in areas outside the realm of video games. the Songs for Deathmatch series is highly recommended for greatly enhancing your driving experience – forget about road rage, just put this cd in your car stereo and instead listen to the beautiful and touching sounds of guitar rage. these are also great for those more intimate moments such as a romantic candle-lit dinner.
as always, check out the news page for the latest info, edicts, proclamations, or updates on the music of james grote, creator of the Songs for Deathmatch series.
John Romero .plan Shoutout
I’m a real big guitar-music nut and just wanted to tell y’all how badass James Grote’s “Quantum Rage: Songs for Deathmatch” is — you don’t even need to play this CD while deathmatching; I listen to it all the time in my car. Get this CD if you are into metal or into doomy-melodic guitar riffs! Samples are available on his site….check ’em out.
A Few ‘Notes’ With James ‘Knife’ Grote
You will recall that sometime back I did a review of a CD titled “Quantum Rage Songs For Deathmatch” by James Michael Grote. This CD is Mr. Grote’s answer to getting bored with the same game-music tracks which play over and over and over again when you are playing your favorite shooter.
I caught up with James Michael Grote recently and we did a short interview about his music, Gigadeth, the Songs For Deathmatch CD, and his plans for the future. Mr. Grote goes by the pen-name of Knife so I will use that to note his responses.
(Justice T) – Greetings Knife, thanks for taking the time to do this interview for GameStats! I guess that it would be good for the people who don’t know you or your work to give a basic introduction of yourself. Perhaps you could briefly introduce yourself and tell us a bit about the projects you have worked on or are best known for.
[ Knife ] – My number one passion is music. Since I first started playing, I always enjoyed making stuff up, never happy just playing other people’s music. I feel more like I have to write music, not just that I want to. It’s definitely an obsession. Gotta get these songs out of my head.
Besides music, I’m a software developer/web designer for a Cincinnati based marketing company. (gotta pay the bills). I have a degree in Electrical Engineering, even though I create software now. When I’m not locked in my studio, I love sports such as mountain biking, tennis, and softball. Demographics? Twenty-something and unmarried. Drive a ’98 Eclipse GTS. (not a Ferrari but fun!)
(Justice T) – Lets talk a little bit about your last project, The Songs For Deathmatch CD. What possessed you to put together an audio CD specifically to augment the songs that are already on most games?
[ Knife ] – I love video games, and I love to compose music.
The two seemed to go hand-in-hand. I’ve been writing video game ‘soundtrack’ oriented music for awhile now, and one day it just occurred to me – hey, I should just sell an audio CD of this music specifically written for games, especially deathmatch. After playing many 1000s of hours of deathmatch, Quake, Q2, etc…I would grow tired of the soundtracks, no matter how good they are, thus, could see a need for more deathmatch music, hence my CD.
(Justice T) – I note that you are marketing the CD basically in the gaming community even though in many ways the CD could certainly can hold its own in other circles as well. Was this a conscious decision? What made you decide to name and market it strictly in the community?
[ Knife ] – Within the gaming community, I think my CD is a very unique product. There have been a few other CDs, (i.e. Sonic Mayhem’s methods of destruction CD), but nothing designed for deathmatch. Outside of the gaming community, my CD is just a blip in a very crowded industry. I’m not ruling out more mainstream marketing, but I haven’t done anything yet.
(Justice T) – What has the response been like it the community? Is the CD doing well?
[ Knife ] – The CD is doing surprisingly well. From people who have purchased it, I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback. People say they think it’s a great idea – music for deathmatch.
(Justice T) – Interesting… How about negative feedback, are you telling me that NOBODY has complained about it or asked for their money back?
[ Knife ] – No negative feedback yet, which is really cool. I was a bit nervous about playing my music to the world, so to speak, when I first launched my website. It’s great that others appreciate my music.
(Justice T) – Songs For Deathmatch has a real varied assortment of tunes. Some come close to ambient while others are very much in the genre of heavy industrial. Do you do other music as well?
[ Knife ] – I love to experiment with different kinds of music, be it heavy guitar, industrial, ambient, or even straight piano, but the common theme throughout most music I write is an exploration of the dark and mysterious. I’m not one to write very many happy songs. My music is generally edgy, dark and ominous, (if that makes any sense).
(Justice T) – So no songs like ‘Rubber Ducky’ or ‘I love You, You Love me’ or ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’ songs for the next deathmatch CD? :-) [free smart-ass opening here]
[ Knife ] – I just scored a deal to write the soundtrack for Disney’s next game, My Little Pony 3D. Kind of an interactive game for toddlers. I’m just finishing up “Ultra-Death Pain” for the theme song.
(Justice T) – Hehe! Why is your music so dark? Is it just a preference or is there something deeper here?
[ Knife ] – I’m most moved by dark music. (maybe I need a psychologist?) I connect to it the most, be it my music or others. The dark angst of something like “Downward Spiral” (NIN) is very cathartic, almost soothing to me.
(Justice T) – Do you have a personal favorite in your own music? What and Why?
[ Knife ] – Honestly, I don’t have a fav, depends what I’m doing, or my mood. For example, track 5, Teradeth, is probably my favorite in the car (a great cruisin song), Track 2, Gigadeth, is probably my fav when playing deathmatch.
(Justice T) – What about music that is done by others? What are your favorite groups or tracks?
[ Knife ] – My musical tastes are pretty varied, anywhere from NIN to Stravinsky (The Rite of Spring). My biggest influences right now are NIN, White Zombie, Alice in Chains, etc. Some of my favorite bands of all time are Rush, Van Halen and U2, although my current music is in a different direction than those bands. Plus lately I’ve been digging Korn a lot, (love that tuned-down guitar sound).
I’d have to say that my all time favorite game soundtrack is for Quake. I’m not saying this just because Trent Reznor created it. It’s actually quite different than his NIN work. I just love the haunting sound textures and ambience he creates – very original, easily rivaling many a film soundtrack.
(Justice T) – As long as we are talking about other groups, I have to ask, GigaDeth Productions is awful close to MegaDeath. Is this coincidence or by design?
[ Knife ] – Not actually a huge fan a Megadeath, just kinda chose Gigadeth as a joke, since it’s like MegaDeath, but a THOUSAND TIMES MORE DEATH!! (uh….get it) A bit sophomoric, but catchy. I guess my next album should be TeraDeth, and then ExaDeth.
(Justice T) – The technical quality of your recordings seems pretty high. Do you have your own studio or is it a rented facility?
[ Knife ] – I recorded the whole CD in my studio. This gives me the most creative control, zero time-constraints and is much cheaper in the long run than going to a studio.
(Justice T) – I am sure it does! What do studios charge now days anyhow?
[ Knife ] – I haven’t checked for years, but easily a few hundred an hour for a good joint. Plus the fact that I spend many hours here and there tweaking my songs . (it’s not an in-and-out thing like a live band)
(Justice T) – Can you tell us a little bit about your studio and equipment?
[ Knife ] – My main guitar is a Kramer Baretta, running through a few different amps, which are miked. I never cheat and record guitar direct with a speaker-simulator. Just never sounds as good, IMHO. The Quake2 soundtrack is a good example. If my ears don’t lie, I believe all of the guitar tracks were recorded direct. Then to get a good sound, they layered 3 or more tracks, EQ’d them to death, compressed them, etc., which in the end sounded pretty good, but I personally prefer sticking a mike in front of a REAL amp blasting away on 10. I try to get the best sound from the amp, instead of trying to fix it later. Almost all of my songs are a single guitar track, which still sounds huge. To hear what I’m talking about, listen to the intro of Quantum Rage. (Don’t get me wrong, I do love a lot of the Q2 songs, especially track 9)
(Justice T) – I too noticed a difference in the ‘warmth’ of the songs.
[ Knife ] – Still, my favorite guitar sound (and player) of all time is the early Van Halen albums. I’ve read many interviews with Eddie talking forever about getting the right guitar sound out of the amp, first and foremost before anything is committed to tape. Otherwise, you’re polishing a turd (so to speak), trying to ‘fix’ it later with EQ.
Most other sounds come from a collection of synths and my main sampler, a Kurzweil K2500R with 64 Megs of RAM. To give you an idea of what it takes to get a good sampled drum sound, my drum set takes up over 25 megs. I strive for a very realistic drum sound, never wanting to sound like a drum machine.
Finally, everything is mixed-down and mastered on my PC, all in the digital domain at this point.
(Justice T) – How long does the final mixing and mastering generally take? I have heard it said that this process, when done right takes a much longer time than actually recording the song. Not true?
[ Knife ] – I try to get everything sounding as good as possible up front, so that mixing isn’t all that difficult. Like I’ve said, I try to get the best possible guitar sound, tweak my drum set to sound good, etc. so that everything mixes sm oothly. I’m not trying to ‘fix’ things in the mix down stream. Mastering takes a bit of time, and involves the whole CD – making sure all songs are the same ‘perceived’ volume.
(Justice T) – Can you tell our readers a bit more about the creative process? Perhaps describe
the process of creating a single track?
[ Knife ] – Most everything starts with jamming on guitar. Guitar is always my first instrument, and I just play around and come up with some riffs and ideas. Usually a song will be founded upon some cool guitar intro or something. Then I start experimenting with laying down some rhythm parts, (drum and bass) and start to arrange the song. I have a set of electronic drum pads so I can jam the drum parts into the sequencer. (I don’t program any parts, playing everything). When the song begins to take shape, I’ll try adding some accents here and there using different sampled sounds I’ve either created or collected. I think this is one of the things which make my music stand out from the crowd, adding fresh new sounds here and there, not just pounding guitar, drums and bass.
(Justice T) – What kinds of sounds do you add?
[Knife] Some are enharmonic ambient sounds, like in the intro to ‘Steady System
atic Decline” (track 4) or some of the sounds throughout “Xenocide” (track 3) which are different kinds of hits / processed noises. Most accents I add are relatively subtle, filling up the music, adding interest, while not standing out too much.
(Justice T) – Do you personally do the raw recordings of these accents and additions?
[ Knife ] – Some sounds I create by doing sample manipulation, in particular weird guitar feedback noises, while others are from Sample CD-ROMs I have purchased, (which I often modify to my liking…I rarely use sounds ‘out of the box’).
Composing and performing the song is still about half the process. Then I need to mix it down, balancing everything, recording it onto DAT. Then comes post-production and mastering. Post-production starts by transferring it to the PC. From there I may add a bit of compression, possibly some subtle overall EQ, do any digital editing. Mastering essentially involves maximizing the sound level, to insure the best possible signal-to-noise ration short of clipping, and make it loud. (Hey, you asked for details:)
(Justice T) – Laugh…:-) hey its the details that make the difference guy.. Certainly that’s true in music.. I hope my readers think so in interviews too :P
Just how long would you say it takes to create from beginning to end a single track?
[ Knife ] – Easily a few weeks, working on it a bit here and there. I never try to force out a song, which usually ends up in something less than inspired. I know this from personal experience, so I take my time with stuff.
(Justice T) – I note in my review of the Songs For Deathmatch CD that it is a little bit shorter in overall length than I would have expected. Why did you decide to stop at 8 tracks? Did you have more material and edit it out or were those 8 exhausting enough?
[ Knife ] – 8 tracks was all I had to put on the CD at the time. My next project would definitely have more songs on it.
(Justice T) – So what is next for James Michael Grote? I understand you went to E3 this year and pitched your CD to some of the biggest names in this industry and actually spoke with the likes of Scott Miller of 3D Realms, John Romero of IonStorm, Todd Hollenshead of id Software, Ray Gresko of Nihilistic, Mike Wilson of Gathering Of Developers, and Dave Georgeson of Activision. I assume you were hunting for game contracts?
[ Knife ] – I can’t talk about any particulars, but I think my music would be a very good match with many of the games coming out in the near future. I’ve worked with Scott Miller before, as I created the theme song being used for Duke Nukem Forever, and I’ve traded emails with John Romero before and finally got to meet him which was quite cool.
(Justice T) – I’m sitting here musing and just wondering what you’re going to do if they ask you for something bright and cheery with a ‘Barney The Dinosaur feeling’ to it. hehehee :-)
[ Knife ] – Keep an eye out for our new game, Strawberry Shortcake 3D, The Heroin Years, and our new pre-school spelling program, Hooked on Chronics.
(Justice T) – This almost begs the question; Are you willing to change style at all if the bucks are good enough or are you self limiting to the dark and foreboding?
[ Knife ] – to a VERY limited degree. I’m looking for a match for the type of music that I love creating, otherwise, I don’t want to do it.
(Justice T) – If you don’t find the question rude, I expect people would be curious about what artists like yourself usually get for a soundtrack for a game?
[ Knife ] – It totally depends on the contract, plus the possibility of royalties, plus who retains rights to the song. There is no set standard here. In other words, I can’t say.
(Justice T) – So can you tell me how things look with the prospects we spoke of above? How does it look with these guys? Anyone show any serious interest?
[ Knife ] – There is certainly interest, but nothing I can talk about right now.
(Justice T) – No problem. Interviewers are told that a lot. I hope one of them grabs you. I gotta say that after listening to the sample you sent me more times than I am willing to admit I am still playing it regularly. (Track 1 and a caffienadted drink seem to be the perfect combination to get me ‘into’ gathering mode for the daily news when really I don’t feel like it…
[ Knife ] – Track 1, oh yes, Quantum Rage! Great with coffee first thing in the morning.
(Justice T) – Would you consider in-house work or do you like your independent status being able to work for anyone at any time?
[ Knife ] – For the most part, in-house work would require relocating, which is something I’m not sure I would do. I’m hoping there’s enough opportunities out there for free-lance work.
(Justice T) – How about long term? What would you like to see happen to Gigadeth in say 5 years?
[ Knife ] – Continue writing video game music, hopefully learning new things and continually improving my song-writing skills, creating new things. I know this sounds cliche, but I’m definitely my biggest critic and am never completely satisfied with anything I do. I’m always looking improve something.
(Justice T) – Well Knife, thanks for taking the time to talk with me. It’s been fun, and honestly I really hope that someone picks you up. You have a lot of talent and while music may not be the most visible part of a game, it certainly adds a great deal to it. Good luck guy!
[ Knife ] – Thanks for taking the time to write up these questions. It’s been a pleasure talking with ya, Keep up the great site!
(Justice T) – *Blush* Thanks guy.
GameStats Review, by JusticeT
Publisher: Gigadeth Productions
Developer: James Michael Grote
Genre: Music CD For Gamers
Official Quantum Rage: Quantum Rage
Reviewed By: Justice T
(All graphics in this review used with direct permission.)
This review is a little different for me. Normally when I pop a CD into my system for review, I begin to think about interfaces, system requirements, graphic detail, and documentation. This ‘review’ has none of those things.
Quantum Rage Songs For Deathmatch is an audio only CD which was written, performed, and produced by James Michael Grote, who is known online as ‘Knife’.
Quantum Rage is Knife’s answer to listening to the same boring repetitive tracks over and over and over again when you play your favorite game. I think we have all been there. We get a new game, get really addicted to it, and after innumerable rounds of play… well eventually the music becomes old hat. At this point people go looking in the game preferences menu for a way to turn off the music and then they turn to their audio collection in search of something to replace it with. Instead of borrowing your father’s Oklahoma movie soundtrack, or your sister’s BeeGees Gold collection, you might want to consider Quantum Rage, Songs For Deathmatch.
Mr. Grote has produced a 27.5 minute CD that may just help you get through the next phase of your addiction. Quantum Rage Songs For Deathmatch has 8 tracks which last approximately three to four minutes apiece. They incorporate something of a heavy metal mixed with an industrial sound and are similar in aural ‘feel’ to the music in Quake 2. In fact, according to Mr. Grote, id Software has actually used a Gigadeth song as the soundtrack for their Quake 2 preview at the 1997 E3. Does this tell you a bit about the quality?
Quantum Rage Songs For Deathmatch is strictly an instrumental album. Perhaps the word ‘songs’ in the title would be more descriptive if it were called ‘tunes’, as there is zero in the way of discernable words sung on this album. The feel of each track is unique, but has similarities which tie them all together nicely.
The names of each Quantum Rage Songs For Deathmatch tune, and my general impression of them appear below. You may click on the titles which are highlighted for a real audio sample. The real audio examples do not sound as good as the CD, but they will give you a feel for the music.
- Quantum Rage – Starts out with what I call ‘adrenaline pump up’ music which has heavy overtones, which eventually meld themselves into a tune that for some odd reason was reminiscent of the James Bond Introduction tune on acid. (You know the one that he is seen through the lands and grooves of a gun barrel before the normal movie score comes on.) Running Time: 3:17
- Gigadeth – Probably one of the more drum heavy tunes in the bunch, this one has a definite beat and ‘tough’ rhythm to it. If you like your music heavy this is the one for you. Running Time: 3:12
- Xenocide – This is a bit of a spooky sounding tune at first. The beat is there, but it has undertones which give a definite ‘mystery air’ to the piece. Running Time: 4:12
- Steady Systematic Decline – More Adrenaline! This tune starts out sounding a bit ambient, but quickly degenerates, (if you want to call it that), into something more exciting. Running Time: 3:20
- Teradeth – The rather heavy handed name here, for me seemed a bit overkill. The tune is a bit more what I will term ‘exploratory’ and rhythmic. Running Time: 2:56
- Possessed – This is simply overkill music. I found this tune to be the most exciting of the group and would have expected to hear it in a ‘boss level’. There is some sort of a muffled whisper barely discernable in the background here and there. Damned if I can figure out what it says though. Running Time: 3:16
- Kinetica – Interestingly I found the texture of this music to be very much in the genre of racing music. It is fast, and simple, but with a barely perceptible vocalization. Running Time: 4:14
- And God Spoke – The last track is probably the closest to an ambient tune of any of them. It is actually very pleasant and somewhat subdued. In fact it is much like some of the Pink Floyd or early Alan Parsons Project instrumentals. In the 70’s it would have been considered good ‘stoner music’ and would have been at home with a room full of blacklights and posters. After lots of listening, this became my favorite track. Running Time: 3:04
I found this CD to have been well worth my time in many ways. While the music itself is not of a genre I usually listen to, I found myself putting it on whenever I wanted something a bit different from the norm, or when I wanted a little pump up music. If you are not wired after a heavily caffeinated beverage, a couple of pop-tarts, and a couple tracks of this you are probably catatonic.
Production values seem quite good. I played this CD on several different systems, from the GameStats test system, to the office boom-box, to a several thousand dollar component system. There was never a technical disappointment or problem with bleedover. I am far from a music expert but from production, to mixing, to execution of the music itself I found nothing technically lacking.
There is only one real complaint that I have about Quantum Rage Songs For Deathmatch – its length. The album is in fact less than 30 minutes long. Though I note that many mega-label produced albums are not much longer than this one, I do believe the package could have been improved with MORE. Be it lengthening tracks or adding songs, I think that increasing running time would improve the value tremendously.
In conclusion, Quantum Rage Songs For Deathmatch is a welcome change from listening to the same tracks over and over on some of the games I have played. It is a good augmentation if not a replacement for the music that comes with many games. I would go so far as to say that it would not surprise me if James Michael Grote also gets a gig doing background music for television, or with some polish, even the movies one day.
Album Art: The artwork on the album cover is uninspiring. It consists of the same forest green we all know and love with a pattern that looks like a cross between a circuit board and a topographical map. Rating — 6/10
Production Values: I could not find any hints of poor production in this album. The mixing was done well, there is no extraneous noise, and the tracks are evenly spaced.. Rating — 9.5/10
Replayability: I have replayed the 30 minutes of songs no less than a dozen times so far and I have yet to ‘play it into the ground’. Rating — 9/10
Album Insert: I wish there had been more to read here, perhaps a bit about the man behind all of this, and I wish the songs had listed run times on them. They did however list a website. Rating — 6/10
Overall: In the end an album like this must be judged less on inserts and artwork than how well you like it, and I really do like Quantum Rage Songs For Deathmatch. In my opinion it really could be enhanced by adding another track or two or lengthening those that are on it. Rating — 8/10
CinePlex Review, by Jagged
James Michael Grote, who wrote and played all the songs on Quantum Rage, was nice enough to send me a copy of this CD to review. This CD contained 8 tracks totaling nearly 30 minutes of playing time. Once l first played the CD, the music immediately reminded me of Sonic Mayhem’s music for the Quake II Soundtrack. It had a lot of guitars, and very good drums, mixed with other instruments and sounds here and there. But this CD is not a ripoff of Sonic Mayhem’s straight Guitar and Adrenaline Pumping music. Quantum Rage while maintaining much of that adrenaline pumping, fast paced music strays off into other areas, with ambient bars throughout many of the tracks. In fact, the last track, “And God Spoke,” is almost a totally ambient song, great for those 1 on 1 deathmatches. Since guitars are my favorite instrument to listen to, I enjoyed this soundtrack a lot. But before I could give it a final grade, I had to test this out actually playing a deathmatch, I mean, that’s what this CD is really for. So I rounded up some friends and played some FFA deathmatches along with this CD. While the CD does fit, I don’t really like music playing when I play deathmatch, as it drowns out some noises that are crucial to getting the upper hand. However, I did enjoy blowing away my friends, as well as getting blown away myself, to the adrenaline pumping sounds of guitars along with a great beat. Also, I did use this CD while playing some Single Player Quake II, and I must say that it fits extremely well. I thouroughly enjoyed listening to this music while deathmatching, playing single player as well as by itself. In Conclusion, Quantum Rage offers 8 tracks great for any game, both in single player and deathmatch modes. I also enjoyed listening to some of the tracks as is, as the are great to listen to. I can wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone who is looking for some good music to go along with their deathmatching, or whatever else it is that they do. The bottom line is that you should listen to the samples on Gigadeth.com, if you like them, you’ll like what’s on the rest of the CD. Still not convinced, or does this sound good and you want it? Head over to Gigadeth.com for samples of the music, as well as info on how to order the CD.https://www.quakewiki.net/archives/cineplex/qrage.html
For those of you not familiar with James Michael Grote (creator of Gigadeth Productions), he’s responsible for the background music in the Duke Nukem Forever promo shown at the E3 of 1998 and id Software also used some of James’ talent for their Quake2 preview at the E3 of 1997. Now, with Quantum Rage: Songs for Deathmatch, James avails his talents to the masses with a full CD offering.
Songs for Deathmatch
As the title subtly implies, Songs for Deathmatch is indeed tunes to frag by. The heavy power-cord guitar riffs with background synth work create a depressive atmosphere of stalking and impending doom. The music never takes off into those violent maniacal blast beats found in your typical death and black metal (hail Satan!), but maintains a less offensive, steady thumping throughout. The beats are only interrupted with a few well-placed, mellow, synth-only sections that allow the gamer a bit of time to appreciate exactly where they are and what’s going on, without losing the atmosphere created by the music. The overall sound is very dark and gloomy and often could pass for a movie soundtrack. The production is top notch and the structure is very tight.
SfD’s music would be well suited for many games. These tunes would fit well in a game like Need for Speed 3 with its night driving and muscle cars. Games like Decent 3, Redline, Aliens Vs. Predator and Daikatana DM would also be ideal for SfD. Most befitting would be the recently released Quake3 Arena Test, which is conveniently missing a soundtrack. If, like me, you won’t share your Quake2 soundtrack and dilute it with any other games but want something fresh and along the same lines to go with Q3A, then Songs for Deathmatch is for you.
What I find most appreciable with SfD is not only its value to games, but to “real world” settings. Songs for deathmatch is more than just music, it is melodies and beats that allow one to delve deep into a dark depressive imagination. The summer is here and the sun is coming out, which means lots of camping and road trips for me. If there’s something I really enjoy, it’s driving at night with some loud music blaring and letting my imagination wander (and sometimes the wheel, hehe). Songs for Deathmatch makes driving a real *trip*.
On the negative side, there were a couple guitar solo-type parts that I found more befitting to a rock and roll album than to a mass murder, rip-roaring, killing-machine deathmatch soundtrack.
Considering how addictive deathmatch is and how many hours I waste away in online play, the ~30 minute CD is a bit short. Also, 6 bux shipping to Canada is a pretty steep (this isn’t a free country, you know. If you’re lucky, the government only steals half of your income).
Simply put, Songs for Deathmatch rox. Despite my minor complaints, close to half and hour of atmospheric technological torment all for only 10 U.S. clams is a bargain. Even if you do live outside the Land of the Free, it’s still well worth your 16 kahunas.
For more info on Gigadeth Productions and Songs for Deathmatch, including where to buy, about James Michael Grote and links to other reviews, go to the Gigadeth homepage.
TheSanctum.Net Review by Frank Amato
Pros: Intense Tracks, Good use of instruments, Hard and Heavy, No lyrics, Low Price, Kicking Effects
Cons: Total album time length is short, only eight tracks
Deathmatching has become a pretty popular sport as of late. Sure it’s been around awhile, but I mean to the point of really taking off. You can see this evidence in a few games out now and upcoming that only support multiplayer and deathmatch is usually involved. While deathmatching is really fun, team play has really gotten some attention too. While most players like all out kill fests, some enjoy working with others to conduct kill fests. Even players with no connection to the Internet can get down and dirty with computer controlled bots.
While deathmatching and multiplay have become must have features in first person shooters, most of these games rarely feature music that’s playable while online or in single play. Even though some titles do contain intense soundtracks, most gamers would rather fight it out with the music turned off and some like to insert their own audio CD’s instead of using the audio that packs with the game.
When thinking of intense soundtracks for games, a couple of popular ones come to mind. Nine Inch Nails and their great soundtrack was featured in Quake, then Sonic Mayhem in Quake II. But what about an audio CD made for deathmatching, but not produced for a game? This wasn’t done, until..
A guy by the name of James “Knife” Grote of Gigadeth came up with the idea to create a custom soundtrack that could be played with any game, or even while doing anything. James has been involved in the industry, creating theme music for a promo video of Duke Nukem Forever. In 1997 at E3 in Atlanta, he also created one of the songs in the soundtrack for id software’s Quake 2 preview. So James has really taken advantage of an untapped market with his latest music CD Quantum Rage “Songs for Deathmatch”.
Songs for Deathmatch features eight audio tracks with a total playing time of around 28 minutes. Each track seems to be varied in composition, but the album as a whole stays true to the intense deathmatching theme. Some songs are slow and hard, some contain excellent use of varied musical instruments and effects. Each song brings it’s own subtle theme and once you listen to all of them it wouldn’t be difficult in finding one of them to use with any first person shooter game on the market. The total playing time for each song stays in around or under four minutes, while it might sound short the music keeps you listening. When the music finally ends and you listen again, it sounds different. A true sign of a deep album with plenty of staying power.
TheSanctum received it’s copy of Songs for Deathmatch and while we remained hesitant of an album made for deathmatching, we came out pretty surprised. We found ourselves listening while web surfing, working on our computers or just playing an online deathmatch. This album really gave us the added kick to get through our day. Most of the tracks contained on the album are hard and heavy, but the good part is they each contain a well planned theme. None of the tracks contain lyrics of any kind and that is another good part. Just all out musical instruments and effects with plenty of riffs and cool samples.
If there is one downside to this album, it’s the length of it. We wished there were more tracks. But unlike most albums with longer playing time and less good tracks, this one features eight very good songs. So no matter if you’re surfing the web or building a new powerhouse PC this album should get some playing time in your player. Since this is James first album, we’re sure he will create another one just as good. We suggest you at least sample some of the tracks, if you like what you here then go out and pick up a copy!
PlanetQuake Review, by Gestalt
Quantum Rage “Songs for Deathmatch”
Pros: Dark and moody
Cons: Too short!
Publisher: Gigadeth Productions
Developer: Gigadeth, aka James Michael Grote
A few weeks ago we took a look at David “Tolywn” Shaw and Mark Klem’s “Impulse One“, a CD of “Supplemental Gaming Music”. This week we check out Gigadeth’s “Quantum Rage”, the brainchild of James “Gigadeth” Grote, not to be confused with PlanetQuake’s tech guru James “dweomer” Groat…
Dark But Not Very Long
Quantum Rage features a total of 8 instrumental tracks, which adds up to less than half an hour of music. After Impulse One, which was over an hour long, this is a bit of a disappointment. The album is over far to soon.
The good news is that while it lasts it’s damn good! And whereas Impulse One had a rather cheesy electronic feel to it that just doesn’t work outside of a computer game, Quantum Rage has a much darker, guitar-driven sound. I’ve been playing this album more while I’ve been working than I have been while Quaking, which is probably a good thing given that I normally deathmatch with the music off.
It’s dark, moody, instrumental industrial music at its best – sequenced on a computer using Cakewalk Pro, with distorted guitars pumped through a Marshall 2×12 cab played over the top. The result is almost perfect, a blend of digital, industrial and metal that wouldn’t sound out of place on a movie soundtrack or even a “proper” album.
James is no stranger to computer game soundtracks, his music has been used for preview movies at the E3 computer games show by both id Software (Quake II, ’97) and 3D Realms (Duke Nukem Forever, ’98). A pretty impressive resume, though sadly none of his tracks made it into the final release version of Quake II.
Anyway, on with the track by track overview…
The album opens with the title track, “Quantum Rage”, its hard distorted metal riff and drums mixing with a broody synth brass sound. Around the middle of the track long mournful notes and strange background noises take over, before the main riff kicks back in for the ending. The track makes a great rousing start to the album.
The second track, “Gigadeth”, also starts off with a hard metal riff and power drumming, with echoing sound effects (one of them sounding like an effect from Quake II, though I could be wrong) and a high choral sound adding atmosphere.
The third track is “Xenocide”, a much darker offering kicking off with high haunting synth lines and a dark brass sound with low drums in the background, before the guitar joins in. Although it sounds very dark and forboding, it still manages to be uplifting. Not sure how, but it works. One of my favourites…
The fourth track is “Steady Systematic Decline”, which is (I assume) named after a line from a Nine Inch Nails song. This is one of the best tracks on the album, featuring a really hard grinding guitar sound and distorted noises, with a high synthetic harpsichord line rising over the top of it all. Every so often the guitars cut out to make way for a spooky choral sound and distorted sirens. It’s all a bit Gothic, and I love it.
Track five is “Teradeth” (a step up from Gigadeth), with relatively low and subdued guitars underlaying a mournful sounding synth line, and a short piano riff cutting in every now and then. It fades out a bit suddenly at the end, but it’s a solid enough track.
Number six is “Possessed”, a return to hard distortion riffs and heavy metal drumming. Every so often the guitars cut out, with a piano sequence and chorus taking over and a disembodied voice floating around in the back of the mix somewhere. Not sure what it’s saying, but it all sounds very spooky. There’s even a bit of solo fretboard mangling towards the end…
Track seven, “Kinetica”, starts off with a more upbeat guitar riff and a bubbling synth garbled in the background. Choral sounds build the track up before the whole thing breaks down to a soft humming drone and what sounds like a xylophone around the midpoint of the track. A classic lead guitar line takes over, though the xylophone still going on in the background dirties it up a bit and doesn’t quite fit in. Then it’s back to the intro riffs and choir for the rest of the track, which ends suddenly with a deafened explosion.
The final track, “And God Spoke”, is truly awesome. Long haunting distorted guitar notes, soft bluesy warbles, dark synth sounds, disjointed drum rolls and a droning choir come together to make it sound like a bizarre cross between the Bladerunner soundtrack and the intro to Pink Floyd’s “Crazy Diamond”. The result is dark and sinister, and at just three minutes it is over way too soon. This track could have wandered on for another half hour to form some sort of dodgy prog rock epic…
The Bottom Line
So what’s the final decision? Well, Quantum Rage is just too damn short. At only half an hour in length (slightly less, actually) it’s a little undersized. This is the main reason it didn’t get a higher rating.
The subtitle, “Songs for Deathmatch”, is also a bit of a non-starter, as a couple of the tracks don’t really suit deathmatch. And besides, most Quakers deathmatch with the music switched off anyway. In single player it works a bit better, especially for Quake II where it adds a lot more atmosphere than Sonic Mayhem while maintaining the heavy metal feel.
But to be honest none of that really matters, because it’s a damn fine album and I listen to it even when I’m not Quaking. If you like soundtracks and industrial-tinged metal, this is exactly what you’re looking for…
Songs for Deathmatch 2, Review by Gestalt
Music For Fragfests
“Songs For Deathmatch 2” is, as you may already have guessed, the second in a series of CDs of music intended to be played while you are deathmatching. The man behind the music, James Grote, has previously produced pieces for id Software and 3D Realms, creating soundtracks to accompany demonstrations of Quake 2 and Duke Nukem Forever at the E3 computer games trade show in recent years.
His first CD sounded excellent, but was a little disappointing in that it featured only eight tracks, totalling rather less than half an hour of music. It’s something of a relief then that the sequel weighs in with a dozen tracks and a more healthy 41 minutes of music, and all for just $10.
The CD also now includes all the tracks in handy 128kbps MP3 format as well as standard CD audio, which saves you the time of ripping the files yourself if, like me, you’re an MP3 fanatic.
Of course, as any man will tell you, size isn’t everything. What counts is how it sounds. So without any further ado, let’s take a look at what you get for your money…
The First Half
The album opens with “Razor Edge”, which begins with some slightly spooky sounding noises, soon joined by stabbing distorted guitars and a slightly cheesy electronic drum. Things start to look up when the real drum beat kicks in though, with a driving guitar riff and rolling drums pushing the track along.
About a minute in a synth line comes in and there’s a little breakdown with some eerie guitar sounds floating around in the background before the main beat kicks back in again. Towards the end of the song the deep guitar riff drops out, and a higher pitched lead line comes in to replace it, sounding almost like an old (I’m talking early 1980s) U2 song at times, with the bass still rumbling along underneath it all.
The second track, “Alienation”, starts with a fast paced drumbeat behind a dark choral melody which dominates the first minute of the track, and this theme continues throughout the song, alternating between being played on a guitar and using the choir sound. The track ends with the drums dying (rather suddenly) and a string sound coming in to accompany the choir. A nice dark and moody instrumental.
“Chron 2” follows with the same almost gothic feel, with heavily distorted rhythm guitar riffs and a catchy lead guitar line cutting in and out throughout the song. A couple of minutes through the song everything cuts out and an almost Nine Inch Nails sounding distorted noise rhythm comes in to give the song a slower mid-section, with the undistorted lead line floating around over the top of it.
“Deviation” is back to more metal, with deep stabbing distorted guitar riffs and a fairly plain pounding drum beat with the occasional roll to liven things up. Towards the end there’s a couple of short sections with some spooky industrial sound effects and a rather mournful sounding choral bit, which actually works a lot better. Not the best track on the album, but enjoyable enough.
Track six is “UltraMedia”, changing over to a more electronica sound for the intro, with a slightly thin but dancey drumbeat and another nice choir sound. This is soon joined by a really nice guitar riff and a more metal-ish drumbeat, before cutting out again to go back to the intro drumbeat with a lilting lead guitar line over the top.
There’s a lot more of this than there was in the first album, and it looks like James has got a bit more confident in his guitar playing. The result is mostly catchy and uplifting, with the two sections alternating through most of the song, although the freestyle fretboard mangling bit in the middle doesn’t quite work for me. A nice way to end the first half of the album though…
The Second Half
Kicking off the second side is “Rezin”, another heavy metal instrumental with a nice bass line hidden away under the distorted guitar riffs to give your woofers some exercise. It’s hardly a remarkable track, but it makes a nice background to your fragging, which is after all the whole point of the CD.
“Electric Skies” on the other hand is a complete change, with a beautiful rolling piano loop starting things off and some synth sounds over the top before the drums kick in. It’s a refreshing change of pace, especially the mid-section with its sinister sounding strings and slow heavy bass line.
This soon cuts out though, and the piano loop comes back to be joined by a soaring guitar line that soon descends into more freestyle fretboarding, though this time it works a lot better than in “UltraMedia”. The string and bass section comes back for the ending, though sadly it soon fades out rather suddenly. One of the best tracks on the album.
Next up is “Psychward”, returning to the metal mayhem side of things with burly disorted guitar sounds and some suitably heavy handed drums, occasionally toning down to introduce a distorted bass and high synth whine to the proceedings. Towards the end there’s more of the fancy fretwork rising above it all, and the end has an almost operatic metal sound before it all dies down.
“Illuminati” starts up with one of the most haunting synth lines I’ve heard in a long time, with an echoing grated drum sound in the background before the main drum beat and a bouncy electronic bass sound start up. It gets a bit confused in places, but generally it works very well.
A long droning choral sound comes in towards the end, and the result is depressing but hauntingly beautiful. Sadly it’s all over too soon, and at just over two minutes this is the shortest track on the album. Which is a shame, because it’s also one of the best.
At just over four minutes its the longest track on the album, but not overly long, especially as a more melodic guitar line comes in over the top of the rhythm at the end, though once again it all fades out rather suddenly just as things start to get interesting…
And so on to “Closure”, which is .. what’s a polite way to say this? Horrible. It starts with a bombastic, over the top piano “melody”, and then the most cheesy, whiny, grating synth brass sound you can possibly imagine comes in over the top to cap it all. Eugh.
Towards the middle things pick up though, with the piano calming down for a bit, and a beautiful dreamy guitar line that’s amongst the best lead guitar work on the album floating over the top of it all. It’s just a shame about the rest of the track…
Apart from the final track, which is truly hideous, the rest of the album is at worst good and at best excellent. It’s a fitting follow-up to the original, and shows a more mature and experimental approach.
James’ guitar work has improved noticeably, especially when it comes to the fretboard thrashing lead lines, and once again the music wouldn’t sound out of place on an original game soundtrack. Given how poor some computer game music is, it’s a miracle that nobody has hired this guy yet.
It not only makes nice background music for anyone who likes more than the sounds of their opponents’ screams to accompany their deathmatching, it also stands on its own merits. As with the original, I’ve been listening to it while I’ve been working as much as I have been while playing games.
Here’s looking forward to “Songs for Deathmatch 3″… “Songs For Deathmatch 2” can be bought here for $10 plus shipping, and you can also listen to some samples of the tracks before buying the album. 8/10
3rd CD Released!
A new and innovative addition to the Songs for Deathmatch series. Here you’ll find intense drum-n-bass/techno/industrial/BMW commercial-style instrumentals. Among these are Alienation -remix, a completely different take on Alienation, which was originally written for SFD2 and other high-energy tracks perfect for deathmatch.
More Recent Work by James Grote