All the saint are in joy in Heaven…except that they aren’t saints, they just died, and they aren’t in Heaven, but in Hades (Supergiant Games). You might have expected Mozart here, and the seriousness of his unfinished Requiem, but in the Land of the Dead the DJ is Darren Korb, who throws a slightly different vinyl on his console. One closer to System Of A Down.
Korb has a great climate balance.
Okay, but what are we actually doing here? You could say we’re running away from home. We play as Zagreus – son of Hades (god of the Underworld, who registers the new dead each day). Sometimes, as we know, the apple falls far from the tree, and here the son of Hades does not share his father’s interests, tirelessly trying to get to the surface. The gods of Olympus are supposedly waiting there for him. You know, clean air, bright rooms, Dionysia. Life’s good. Yet the whole thing is about dying … The crossing is hard, rough and rocky. Let’s go.
Darren Korb started with the sound. First, he chose instruments that would describe Hades. So here we have the lute family: the oud (considered to be the ancestor of the lute), the setar (a relative straight from Persia) or the guitar lute itself. There was also room for a good ol’ acoustic guitar. Then it was time to add a pinch, more like a handful, of guitar amps. Anyway – you can first see how this music was created – supergiantgames.bandcamp.com.
The soundtrack joyfully starts with No Escape. Probably by no coincidence, because it’s a teaser of what we can hear later in the album – the dynamics, lute, electronics, plugged guitars, and even a guitar solo and, mentioned in the title of the reviews, the rattles. Moving over to From Olympus we can hear the slow march of weary acoustics and what seems to be the setara. In the background: tarry bass, tambourine and rattles. Climate: gloomy. Chorus: ascending. Melody: great. One of my favorites. But there are 24 pieces here, so there’s plenty to choose from. This time, however, we don’t jump that far. Right next to it is one of the few vocal pieces – Lament of Orpheus. A ballad that sounds like a lonely ancient night, played on a lute and sung by Darren Korb.
Where are the guitar players? – you will ask. Let’s get the show on the road Mr. Korb. We pull up our sleeves already in Mouth Of Styx, where first we swing to the rhythm of pulsating synthesizers, later joined by psychedelic (distorted?) lutes that come to the fore. On some good headphones you can hear them fighting for the listener’s attention as we are thrown alive right into the reverb. And so we reach the second part of the piece and the rattles are already morphing into a snare drum. Distortion turned on. Guitars tuned low.
A similar custom of baring teeth as the piece progresses – from ancient to modern strings – is clearly heard in River of Flame, in a very dynamic The Painful Way, The King And The Bull or Through Asphodel, which sound like the repertoire of Percival Schuttenbach. Korb perfectly balances the climate here. He experiments, but very consciously. The he slows down to take a deep breath through electronic Primordial Chaos. Moments later, he chooses silence in a frugal and slow Hymn to Zagreus. Not a moment passes before the album accelerates again in Scourge of the Furies.
The album ends with a ballad that suddenly pops up in the game. Good Riddance. A longing acoustic guitar and Ashley Barrett’s voice (in the second version with Darren Korb). If I were to pick a single here, this track is the most radio track. As such, it has already been performed live several times.
Darren Korb is the game’s main musician, the Orpheus himself.
The Olympic gods didn’t know guitars or amps (unless we mean the guys from Nirvana, an inside joke), but they were very musical. Apollo raged on the lyre, Athena made a flute for herself, and Dionysus “clapped” a rhythm during parties on the tympanum (an ancient manual drum). It comes as no surprise that Darren Korb is the game’s main musician, the Orpheus himself, because thanks to him, all of Hades is very rich in sound and diverse. And, surprisingly, it sounds even more interesting on the album than in the game. Only then have we an opportunity to quietly listen to everything: from the melancholic string plucked by Aphrodite, to the strings plucked by Ares’ hand itself.