Call of Duty Black Ops Zombies Soundtrack :: Review by Harris Iqbal
Call of Duty: Black Ops featured a popular mode featuring Nazi zombies. Following the success of the game's main soundtrack, Activision released a digital download containing tracks from the mode. These tracks are not by Sean Murray and instead were created by the in-house team at Treyarch (Brian Tuey, James McCawley, Kevin Sherwood). The team created a diverse bunch of songs that are satisfying for stand-alone listening.
The soundtrack begins with "Damned", which introduces the mode's eerie and frightening tone. The most notable aspect about this track is the way it uses the classical formula of piano to chilling effect. "Raining Teddy Bears" is perhaps the most ominous track on the soundtrack. It has a very dark and memorable melody, which is again played in chilling classical piano. The superbly integrate electronic tones and drum beats add to the atmosphere and excitement. The final result is flawless in context.
"Death on the Dance Floor" and "Slasher" are further examples of the soundtrack's chilling atmosphere, but they are nevertheless distinctly stylised. The former track has a strong emphasis on grooves, while the latter has an otherworldly sound typical of old-school zombie movies. These tracks all definitely maintain a dark ambience, but are also action-packed and exciting through their raw use of drums. It's fantastic that tracks like these have finally been released on an official album.
The Black Ops game also features an old-school arcade game featuring zombies. This arcade game is accompanied by the chiptune themes "Zombies Don't Surf", "Clockwork Square", and "Temple". These tracks do a fabulous job of staying true to the melodies of old-school game music and are definitely fitting in the mini-game. However, although these tracks use 8-bit sounds, they are not overwhelmed by them. Modern electronics and drums are also mixed in, to create an effect similar to the game Bionic Commando Rearmed.
The best thing about this soundtrack are the incorporation of lyrical songs. In recent years, Heavy Metal has perhaps become the iconic representation of zombie survival games, such as Dead Rising 2, and this influence is maintained here. "Beaty of Annihilation" features lyrics that best fit the zombie genre and the whispering female voice will certainly enchant listeners. The end credits song "Lullaby for a Deadman" is also very catchy and fitting, and Elena Siegman once again gives an excellent performance.
The guitar work is flawless in all these songs and they're especially outstanding in "115", a brutal, intense, and racing action theme. The contrast between the growling male vocals and haunting female vocals is sure to get one's adrenaline pumping and characterises the mode's badass characters well. It's pretty typical heavy metal fare, but is exactly what the game scenario demanded and the mainstream gamers desired.
It's impressive how Activision committed to creating this soundtrack, even though it is only for a mode in the game. The best thing about this soundtrack is that it will appeal to a wide audience, as the tracks are well-balanced and offer something for everyone. If you like fusions of chiptunes and electronics, cues of otherworldly and ominous nature, or adrenaline-pumping heavy metal songs, there is plenty here for you. Highlight such as "115", "Clockwork Square" and "Damned" are truly enjoyable as stand-alone listening and will almost appeal to every zombie fan.
Overall Score: 8/10