The creators of the über-popular Mortal Combat franchise return with a new video game entitled Injustice: Gods Among Us. A fighting game like Mortal Combat, Injustice’s theme and format allow a musical soundtrack to match its action-filled intensity. The product, Injustice: Gods Among Us - The Album, turns out to be a pleasant surprise. Often, soundtracks are scattered and lack cohesion outside of the medium they accompany, be it film or video game. This particular compilation is thoughtfully assembled, going a step further by doubling as a solid album transcending its accompaniment purposes.
Punk-revivalists Rise Against get the adrenaline rushing on the energetic “Sight Unseen”. Frontman Tim McIlrath’s angst-laden, raged vocals should easily arouse rebellious youngsters everywhere to rock out: “Cause this is all I’ve got, and I’ve got nothing more / We save the worst excuse, but the best in store / maybe now, we’ll finally even the score / are you counting? Do you even wanna know?” AWOLNATION, aka Aaron Bruno known for hit “Sail”, doesn’t let the fire die down on followup cut “Thiskidsnotalright”. “Thiskidsnotalright” is yet another feisty standout, where Bruno’s maniacal performance captivates as he confirms he’s being messed up (“this kid’s not alright”) and foresees a ‘fiery’ imminent fate (“you can follow them to hell”). Both cuts create quite a one-two punch to initiate Injustice.
“Evil Friends” arrives courtesy of Portugal.the Man, co-written with revered producer Danger Mouse. Dark and in a minor key, “Evil Friends” further contributes to the burgeoning soundscape, though it is a bit less tightly constructed than the former cuts. Seattle indie band Minus the Bear atone with the superb “Walk on Air”, characterized by use of asymmetric time signature on the verses, only to return to the standard common time of the chorus. Well-produced, Minus the Bear’s musicianship shows through unified, recurring riffs, synths, guitars and solid vocals from Jake Snider. Depeche Mode’s standout track “Angel” reappears from their recently released studio album Delta Machine, providing yet another dark standout. Sure, frontman Dave Gahan claims “...I’ve found the peace I’ve been searching for…”, but the mysterious, chilling nature believes one to think otherwise.
“Pure War” arrives courtesy of Pictureplane aka Travis Egedy, an electro producer based in Denver, Colorado. Filled with the expected minimalism of an electronic cut, “Pure War” also features vocals, though they are a bit drenched in the production. Even so, the lyrics suit the theme of the game, with Egedy iterating “...I am just a crime lord”. Nebraskan band the Faint play right into hands of the theme at hand, establishing a sound groove intact with pummeling drums on “This Is Is Is Is Pain”. The title speaks for itself, perfectly complementing the overall theme. Toronto electronic duo MSTRKRFT, aka Master Kraft provides the eighth track of the compilation, “Beards Again”, which achieves strong intensity.
London electro artist Jacob Plant compels on highlight “Fallen”, which evolves from chordal piano passages to erupting dance cues. On “Villain”, Killer Mike gets the assist from Zone Beats’ malicious, hardcore hip-hop production work. The hook is simple and to the point: “I’m a villain…” Killer Mike is more profound on memorable lines including, “If I meet Superman, it’s going to be a super murder / I met Wonder Woman, but ya boy had to hurt her…” Swag and monstrous intent simultaneously, one might say. Better yet is the electrifying closer “Refusal To Die”, provided courtesy of Toronto indie rock band Zeus. Bluesy guitar and recurring riffs place this action-worthy cut among the elite of the soundtrack.
Ultimately, Injustice: Gods Among Us - The Album proves to be the rare soundtrack that doubles as a solid rock/electro compilation. There are no misses; each offering brings redeeming qualities to the table. Even for the non-gamer, it is easy to envision how this cuts accompany the narrative and theme of an action game the likes of Injustice.