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"God of War III" (CD/EP)

Dream Theater - "God of War III" CD/EP cover image

"God of War III" track listing:

1. Killswitch Engage "My Obsession" (3:44)
2. Trivium "Shattering the Skies Above" (4:44)
3. Dream Theater "Raw Dog" (7:34)
4. Taking Dawn "This is Madness" (4:18)
5. Opeth "Throat of Winter" (5:47)
6. Mutiny Within "The End" (3:18)

Reviewed by on March 6, 2010

"As music to accompany a futuristic war simulation the music fits well."

The God of War video game franchise has had much success over the years. The third iteration of the game, “God of War III,” includes an official soundtrack that features some really well known metal bands, and Roadrunner Records is pushing it as an EP for fans of both the video game and heavy metal to buy independent of the game itself. All six songs are original compositions for the game, and fit the nature of God of War quite well. But their attractiveness as good metal constructions is in doubt.

First off, the six band roster is impressive, and whether these bands were persuaded to record tracks for the game through contractual obligations, financial potential, or merely just a love for first person shooter video games, it happened. All the songs, save Opeth’s “Throat of Winter,” feature driving guitars, anthemic choruses, inspiring melodies, and meaningful lyrics about military conflict and war. And all the bands, save Dream Theater, have written songs that are in line with their own studio work.

Musically the two exceptions are the most interesting. While all six songs are hard driving and motivational slam fests, Opeth has opted for an all-acoustic piece that features the trademark atmospheric touches and interplay between harmonic and diminished scales and melodies. Dream Theater has been leaning more and more toward a complete focus on virtuoso wankery ever since “Train of Thought” (“Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence” is the last full length that had more than mostly 32nd note runs and LaBrie’s falsetto), but on “Raw Dog,” Dream Theater has opted for a chunkier, chuggier slab of metal. While there are still runs and arpeggios the song on the whole plays like an odd-time signature breakdown or a poorly-produced proto-Metallica jam.

As music to accompany a futuristic war simulation, the music fits well. It is all hard edged, full of riffs, drum fills, solos and breakdowns – certainly tunes that would inspire even the lamest screen jockey to continue to the next level. But out of the context of the God of War III game the tracks whither, as the banality of the subject matter and game crawl into the music and won’t let go, and the bands don’t muster their best efforts. Unless you are a completist for one of the included bands or the God of War franchise, don’t waste precious iPod space on these poor imitations of good bands’ songs.

Highs: Opeth’s contribution is as interesting and compelling as most other Opeth material.

Lows: Taking Dawn’s song all about the movie “300” is a hash of attempt at inspiration.

Bottom line: Good songs for a video game, but not for metal itself.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)