Music and video gaming are a match made in entertainment heaven. Right from the early days of arcade gaming in the 1970s and 80s, these small-screen adventures have delivered earworm after earworm, whether that’s the iconic Donkey Kong soundtrack or lush, orchestral scores like Symphony of the Goddesses (Legend of Zelda).
Games themselves have also been the inspiration for more than a few classics over the decades. Motörhead’s the Ace of Spades, for instance, is filled with poker references —those in the know will recognise that the name of the song itself is an homage to Wild Bill Hancock’s last hand. Meanwhile, the rest of the song mentions plenty of aspects we would associate with poker gaming, although, it doesn’t dive into more technical aspects of the game, such as what is ICM (independent chip model). Even Sonic the Hedgehog has inspired a rap artist, as bizarre as that sounds!
More recently, metal and hard rock have featured prominently in video games; here are some of the best examples:
Brutal Legend (2013)
Brutal Legend is an iconic game that’s all about heavy metal. Set in a fantasy world inspired by the artwork of classic metal albums, the game features an incredible soundtrack that includes tracks from the likes of Motorhead, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath. The game even features voice acting from renowned hard rock fan Jack Black.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (2013)
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is a standalone expansion to the popular open-world game Far Cry 3. Set in a neon-drenched future world, the game features a soundtrack that’s heavily inspired by the synth-heavy music of the 1980s, but it deserves a special mention for the inclusion of a number of hard and heavy tracks. We particularly enjoyed the use of Power Glove’s Power Core, which perfectly captures the game’s retro-futuristic vibe.
Mad Max (2015)
Set in the same post-apocalyptic world as the classic movie series, Mad Max is a game that’s all about gritty, guitar-driven action. The game’s soundtrack runs like a playlist of the best metal tracks to have been spawned post-Y2 K from bands such as Mastodon, Clutch, and High on Fire. The original score composed by Jesper Kyd is also pretty brutal and does a great job of capturing the high-octane action of the game.
Forza Horizon 3 (2016)
As a racing simulator, Forza Horizon 3 may not be a game that’s typically associated with heavy metal or hard rock music, but it features a soundtrack that’s surprisingly diverse. Toe-tapping tracks from bands like Queens of the Stone Age, Royal Blood, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club crop up during the OST, and the game’s Australian setting is the perfect backdrop for these gritty, guitar-driven tracks. While they may be on the lighter side than some of the tracks featured in this article, they do help to make the game’s high-speed racing that bit more exciting.
The 2016 reboot of the classic first-person shooter Doom featured a soundtrack that was as brutal and intense as the gameplay itself. Composed by Mick Gordon, the OST featured heavy guitar riffs and pounding drums that perfectly captured the game’s frenetic pace. The music was so good that it even earned a nomination for Best Music and Sound Design at the 2016 Game Awards.