When The Feed ran a recent article about video game soundtrack albums that were worthy of a Grammy Award nomination, one thing was made very clear in the comments. The majority of people who chose to post their thoughts said Deus Ex: Human Revolution, composed and performed by Michael McCann, would have been their choice for a game soundtrack Grammy nom. And we agree with you. If you haven’t experienced the music from this game yet, we’ve been given several tracks from the Deus Ex: Human Revolution soundtrack album for your ears to feast upon. Come on in and press play.
Let’s start this review/feature off by simply saying, this is an amazing soundtrack album. Five out of Five, Buy It Now, Desert Island Disc-worthy, however you want to describe it, the DXHR soundtrack album is a disc that anyone who loves electronic-based soundtrack music, composed with an expansive orchestra sensibility will absolutely love this album, even if the game itself isn’t on your radar. And while DXHR wasn’t eligible for a Grammy nomination this year, it has just been nominated for both a BAFTA (The British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Original Music award and for Best Original Music at the Canadian Videogame Awards.
The opening piece on the album is a big part of why the album is so strong, as it sets the stage perfectly for what is to come, with its impassioned vocalizations, pulsing, cyberpunk synth lines and its slow build to crescendo.
Now, I want to clear up a misconception about the Deus Ex: Human Revolution soundtrack before we listen further. Some of you might be tempted to think it sounds similar to Daft Punk’s Tron Legacy soundtrack. That is easy to understand, considering the album is synth based but rooted in organic themes. However, per the album’s liner notes, written by Michael McCann, he began composing the music for DXHR in the Fall of 2008, as part of the game’s four year development cycle. Well before we heard anything from Tron Legacy. Look at it this way: When you pair the two soundtracks together in a playlist, they match each other wonderfully.
The darkly brooding futurism of the album opener is continued in the second piece, from the game’s opening credits. It is a credit to Michael McCann for crafting music that plays perfectly in the context of not only the game, but as a linear listen on the album.
One of the singularly most important cues a game can have is the main menu music. As a gamer, you will hear it every time you start the game. In some cases, it may even play for an extended period, if you happen to boot up your game and then get distracted by something else as it plays in the background.
This next track reminds me ever so slightly of some of the class, synthesizer-based film soundtracks of the 1980’s, with its subtle bass ambience and the low melody of the synths. Fans of the music of Vangelis from Ridley Scott's Blade Runner should now be on board with this album.
Coming in just under five minutes, this is the longest piece on the album. Themes and sound colorings we’ve heard previously are revisited in classic style at the start. But what starts out as ambience quickly picks up the tempo, as ominous, deep bass drops lead into the song’s highpoint, where heavy, post-apocalyptic tribal rhythms take over.
The following number is a change in style and mood, with an afterlife quality to its ambient sound.
The soundtrack album from Deus Ex: Human Revolution by Michael McCann is released by Sumthing Else Music Works and is available in physical form from Amazon and via download from Sumthing Digital.
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