Game Music, Reviews

2 Epic 4 U: GunGirl 2 OST (Review)

June 5, 2012 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook 2 Epic 4 U: GunGirl 2 OST (Review)on Twitter

I’ve never played GunGirl 2. In fact, I don’t even know where to go to play it, or its predecessor. I only know of it because the soundtrack is by Josh Whelchel. In fact, around the time this soundtrack came out, we did a lengthy interview with Josh about this soundtrack.

This, sadly, seems to be the fate of many soundtracks worked on by wunderkind/prodigy Josh Whelchel (though that likely won’t be the case for his upcoming project with Another Soundscape, Mojang’s Scrolls). Josh, a key member of the team who created the Indie Game Music Bundle, decided to toss this album in as a bonus. I’ve owned the CD version for years, but the digital version comes with even more tracks, as it’s not limited by the 80 minute max time allotted to redbook CD audio.

After the jump, why this ridiculously epic music is probably good enough to be used as a custom soundtrack for all manner of games (that’s a thing on the Xbox 360, I’m told).

Okay, there are a couple things that make the GunGirl 2 soundtrack shine. First, and most obvious, is that Josh assembled an excellent team of musicians for the project. The guitar work by Rich Brilli is awesome: what a great studio/session guitarist. And then there’s Rachel Denlinger on violin, who first appears on track 8, “Anomaly,” one of my favorites on the album. Later in the album, Rachel performs violin alongside opera singer Stephanie Schoenhofer on the song “Libera Me.” It’s so freaking epic, and the recording quality is excellent … it just sounds great. “Libera Me” really is a song that sells the soundtrack.

Not all of the live performances are solid gold, though. As much as I love Libera Me, I can’t say that “Sing Gloria” is a favorite of mine, especially in this trip-hop/guitar-laden version that appears as track 29 in the digital album release. The female vocals are a little pitchy. A little too sharp in the mix. Maybe a little too epic, or over the top. Vocalists Tar and Melinda are found in one other track though, “Phantasmagoria Ex,” where their voices are heavily processed and mixed into the track. There, I find everything works well.

Anyway, violins and vocals aside, Rich Brilli really dominates on this soundtrack. He rocks out so hard on these tracks, and it’s clear that Josh has a good working relationship with the guy. “Death or Destiny” is so epic, I think Rich has 3 layers of audio happening at one point there. And then Josh throws in freaking THUNDER FROM THE SKIES as a form of percussion. You know you’re rocking hard when the power of your rocking causes meteorological phenomena. Or, to quote comedian Patton Oswalt, when the power of your rocking changes the physical properties of things and/or deflects bullets. That’s a sure sign of badass rockery right there. Yes, I said rockery.

Are there any tracks on here where it’s just Josh left to his devices (cubase et al)? Yes, and some of them are quite good. Track 2, “No Looking Back!,” rivals some of his best work on The Spirit Engine 2. And then there’s the creepy-as-hell “Unto the Wicked,” with weird mutterings and other mangled voice samples. Talk about creepy. And how could I forget “The Unforgiven” — not at all related to Metallica or Clint Eastwood — this track is one of my favorites. It’s got a great beat and great counter-melodic patterns.

If you find yourself with some spare time and an ear itching for an indie composer who can make you bob your head *without* resorting to retro chiptune-ish goodness, Whelchel’s your man. If you missed your chance to grab the album with GMB3, it’s available separately on bandcamp for one measly dollar. Get on it, people. Support indie musicians like your life depended on it. After all, *their* lives depend on it.

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