Gunlord Original Soundtrack
The Gunlord Original Soundtrack accompanies the recent limited edition release of the Turrican-inspired action platformer for the Dreamcast and NEO-GEO gaming systems (yes, they still make games for them, apparently!). The developer, having worked with Rafael Dyll previously, decided to utilize his talents once more. How does this action score compare to his shooter soundtracks?
The album opens with "Main Title," a fantastic scene-setter. It boasts a soundscape reminiscent of the futuristic Söldner-X series; however, it delivers a much more effective melodic hook, beautiful piano passages, and a lot of ethereal synthesizer. It's energetic and packs a punch, definitely fitting with the action game, especially towards the end with the incorporation of some heavier electronic beats.
The main theme is utilised throughout the soundtrack. "Steel and Thunder (Holy Mountain I) is an extremely effective and catchy theme that incorporates the main theme motif. What I particularly enjoy about this theme is the combination of more tribal, ethnic percussion and the soaring synthesizer passages, helping simulate the fact you are on this mountain. Similarly, "Murky Exploration (Holy Mountain II)" also incorporates the main theme, this time exploring a more ominous soundscape with echoing synthesizers, crystalline piano tones, and even what amounts to a heavy thunderstorm sound effect. It is further incorporated into "Dreamy Ruins," one of the highlights on the soundtrack. I really like how Rafael Dyll integrates the melody, both in terms of piano as well as subtly in some choral tones heard throughout the piece. The soundscape of this piece is almost heavenly, but it also sports an exploratory and slightly suspenseful tone.
"Air Stride" is an intense electronic theme that would work very well in a game like Söldner-X. It sports a nice retro rock vibe at times and the addition of some trance piano works very well in crafting an atmosphere that never gets boring, despite the straightforward approach of the tune. "Factory 5," a title clearly inspired by Turrican developer Factor 5, is one of the best themes on the soundtrack. It sports a Huelsbeck-esque soundscape with an amazing piano and synthesizer melody that really reels the listener in. In addition, the electronic accompaniment, particularly in terms of the distorted synthesizer tones, really helps bring a bit of a modern flair to the entire piece. "Electric Tower (The Megadrives Remix)," a tune actually used in the game, seems to be a remix of "Factory 5." It offers a much more ominous tone featuring an oppressive industrial accompaniment. As the theme progresses, the more melodic and tranquil aspects of the melody are brought to the forefront creating a very interesting fusion of sounds.
"Techno Dungeon" sports a slower tempo than some of the other stage themes, but what I find truly impressive is the various layers heard in the theme. From the retro beat and bass line to the crystalline piano melody and futuristic synthesizer accompaniment, it certainly manages to impress with its effective use of atmosphere. Unfortunately, "Deadly Sewers," while effective in-game, proves to be a slight chore to listen to on a stand-alone basis, but the influence from the Metroid games is clearly apparent. Brooding percussion, tense piano chords, and quirky electronic tones all help to accentuate the perilous atmosphere. "Acid Pipe," on the other hand, also gives off a bit of a Metroid-like vibe; however, it is also much more engaging thanks to Rafael Dyll's tranquil piano tones combined with the bright, yet ominous, synthesizer accompaniment.
"Salival & Co." is the battle music for the game and it manages to create a nice tense atmosphere. I really like how Rafael Dyll incorporates this oppressive electronic soundscape, but also includes some chiptune accompaniment, crystalline piano passages, and a slightly uplifting melody to help create a theme that shows both the impending danger yet the resolve to overcome it. The "End Credits" offers a varied soundscape creating a theme with various sections, some of which sound bright and happy, signifying the journey's end, while others retain a bit more of an action oriented sound. In the end, I think it manages to portray the victorious moment of beating the game. "Lord of the Guns," a bonus track, sports a retro vibe with some chiptune elements. However, it still retains the overall ethereal soundscape of the original soundtrack itself.
There are bonus remixes featured on the disc from people who have worked with Rafael Dyll before, mainly on the Last Hope soundtrack. Christian Werdehausen's remix of "Acid Pipe" sports a trance atmosphere that would work very well in a dance club., I do feel that the intro to the tune loses a bit of the finesse heard in the original, but once the melody comes more into focus, it turns out to be as effective as the original. The remix of "Dreamy Ruins" by Andre Neumann is also quite effective. It turns the original into something much more dramatic, while still retaining the dreamy undertone. The "Gunlord Medley" by Diego M. Fischer and Kaspar Zenklusen is a nice addition to the soundtrack as it strings together various tunes in the soundtrack while also providing a very cohesive soundscape that ties them all together. I'm still trying to figure out what the original tune of "Trash It Hard," a remix by the Megadrives, is based on "Alive". It's an extremely powerful tune that sports ethereal piano and synthesizer over an intense drum n' bass accompaniment with some bass modulation as well.
In the end, I find the Gunlord Original Soundtrack to be an extremely cohesive soundtrack that manages to impress on a standalone basis for the most part. The bonus remixes are nice, providing a new take on the originals, though the meat of the album is clearly the original music. Rafael Dyll once again proves to be a tour de force in crafting engaging action-oriented scores and his inspiration of classic platformers like Turrican and Metroid help bring a varied soundscape to the game itself. If you were fortunate enough to get the limited edition of the Dreamcast version of the game, this soundtrack can be yours; otherwise, you'll have to resort to a secondhand shop or auction side to acquire it. For fans of Rafael Dyll, it's definitely worth it.
Featuring all original compositions and bonus tracks/remixes by Rafael Dyll, SCT Team (Switzerland), Andre Neumann (Germany), The Megadrives (USA) and CJoe (Germany).
All compositions by Rafael Dyll
Track 19 Remixed by Christian "CJoe" Werdehausen
Track 20 Remixed by Andre "Awesome-A" Neumann
Track 21 Remixed by The Megadrives
Track 22 Remixed by Diego M. Fischer, Kaspar Zenklusen [Relation Sound Composing Team]
Transfer to Kairos II
Steel and Thunder (Holy Mountain I)
Murky Exploration (Holy Mountain II)
Alive (Waste Grounds)
Electric Tower (Megadrives Remix)
Salival & Co.
Enter your Name
Lord of the Guns (Bonus Track)
Acid Pipe (Remix)
Dreamy Ruins (Remix)
Gunlord MegaMix (Remix)
Trash it Hard (Remix)