Heh. I suppose I'm a bit late to the party, but I, for one, find the behavior of the artists here incredibly sad and pathetic. "Noo, don't tell us we suck! It's not fair, we worked hard on this!" Life isn't fair. By the same token, I think the boors and Philistines here at Doomworld have been a little harsh on what is, admittedly, an amateur and, most importantly, free music project.
To be more specific...
Welcome to Hell is a fantastic intro, but it doesn't have much musical value. Then again, I don't think musical value was the real point.
Hangarmageddon is difficult for me to comment on in an unbiased manner because I have simply heard too many E1M1 covers. The original is certainly the most heavily covered Doom theme, and to top things off it's not even very good. Hangarmageddon seems to be a very competent cover of D_E1M1, but it just doesn't stand out, to me. Thumbs down, with a notation that it's definitely not for lack of skill (as I *do* enjoy it at least as much as any other E1M1 cover), but rather lack of interest. If you're looking for a hard-rockin', slightly spastic E1M1 cover, look no further.
The Red Moon is a very generic electronic tune, typical of early OCR submissions. In these jaded days, it just doesn't stand up, in my opinion. Sorry, "Sir Nuts". A pity, too, because E1M4 is one of my favorites of the original Doom soundtrack (not to say that any of them are spectacular.)
Industrial Strength just isn't very good, in my opinion. It's too dissimilar to the original song, barely paying homage, and it's just not a very good song in its own right, which means it fails on both musical merit and nostalgic value, making it largely worthless, to me. I'm sure Joker put his heart and soul into it, so I apologize if I hurt his feelings, but, this is one track that won't be hanging around my harddrive.
Mystery Meat is the first track on this compilation that I really enjoyed musically, but it's got a very odd sound to it, and it took me a few listens to realize what it was that was getting to me - the EQing on this song is miserable. Those drums, mostly the hats - what were you thinking, Nousentre? EQ down the drums and bring out that jammin' guitar and you'd have a real winner on your hands - doubly surprising, as I hated this track in Doom.
Evil Horde's "Leaning Tower of Babel" is, well, in a word, dismal. A pretty faithful cover of the original at first, it quickly garners what sounds to be a generic fruityloops backbeat and huzzah! instantly degenerates into mediocre dance fare. No thanks.
Beatdrop. Mmm. Tasty like sweet, hot chocolate. Mmmm. Anyway, Reprocessed is probably the best song on these two discs. Harsh, grating, abusive big beat/EBM crossovers aren't really in style anymore, but if people were still producing them like this, they might be. On top of all that, the original is faintly recognizable underneath! Win.
Ghosts of Mars, by the project organizer Mythril Nazgul, is a deceptive track. It sounds great at first (much as Leaning Tower of Babel did), but toward the end of the song, the synthesized "Aah" (or is that an "Ooh") sample gets pretty grating. Still, the track is very faithful to the original and creates the same atmosphere for a more ... I don't know, "modern" listener. Recommended, at least for a few listens.
RoeTaka is a longtime remixer both on OCRemix and its rival, VGmix. The Chemical Imps is the first of three songs he contributed to this project and easily the best of them. It's got a peculiar vibe, almost tribal, and a great nostalgic sound, clearly reminding of the original. My biggest fault with this song lies in the mixing. What's wrong with you? The EQing on this song is terrible, and the file itself sounds like it's maxing out constantly. If you were going for that sort of sound, it certainly could have been executed better. Honestly, I would have loved this track were it not for the awful EQing. Christ. Listening to it again is painful. Still, if you can get past the EQing, there's some great downtempo breaks here.
The mixer analoq is another favorite of mine from the game arrangement community, and his song "Demon Con Gusto" for DSoP is no disappointment. I suppose it doesn't hurt that Pandemonium's theme is one of my favorites from Doom (second only to Dis), but the treatment it recieved in this song is spectacular. Ominous, throbbing bassline, piercing chimes, and excellent use of stereo effects made this genre-defying song a real standout in my mind. My only complaint was the length; with so much build and tension, an otherwise middling 4:08 seems painfully short.
Arse Assassin's only remix on OCRemix didn't do anything for me, and unfortunately, this track also failed to leave me particularly thrilled to have heard his musical stylings. "This Can't Be Good" wins big points for referencing the hilarious-yet-awful Doom comic book, but all those points and more are lost when one actually listens to the song. In short, nothing happens. An otherwise fairly solid beat and a decent melody are incredibly bland in this five-minute abortion, and in an attempt to figure out why, I listened to the original again. It had been awhile, after all. I came to the conclusion that the style Arse Assassin chose for this arrangement is quite possibly the worst choice he could have made. So, not really knocking your skills, but simply a poor choice of genre, considering the source material. Here's to better luck next time.
Jade Spawn? Perhaps named in honor of Jade Empire? While not possessing any outwardly oriental themes, this song's atmosphere certainly reminded me of the recent hit Xbox RPG. Limbo's theme was another of my favorites, though that may be because the level itself was one of my favorites. This song is very mellow - quiet and dark, with a subtle undertone that speaks volumes of loneliness to me. The Orichalcon has long since earned my respect, since I first heard his Raptor: Call of the Shadows arrangements, and his Doom work is largely quality material as well. This song is no exception. If you're into deep piano pieces and you liked the E2M7 theme, check this out. It's worth the while.
TO also did the Intermission piece, which reminds me heavily of an intermission from one of Tool's albums. It also reminds me of one of Paniq's recent songs. Still, it's a beast all its own, which I actually find musically stimulating as well as amusing.
RoeTaka's worst piece on this collection is "Infiltrator", perhaps ruined by the assistance of Evil Horde? Ah, whatever. Personally, I feel that this song is not well-serviced by a drop in tempo, and I feel that the EQing on this song, like many others in this compilation, needed a little work - specifically, the lead is a bit too much in the lead. But, it's pretty faithful, and to be fair, I never liked the song much, anyway. Maybe it's the name that puts me off. Keep your stealth outta my Doom, mister. :D
Infected Lab takes what is, in my opinion, one of the least musical themes in the original Doom and turns it into excellent trancey house fare. How, DJ Carbunk1e? A monstrous pulsing bassline, excellently arranged instruments (including some well-placed strings and breaks), and a beautifully distorted synth for the lead make up what is surely one of the best covers I will ever hear of one of the most atmospheric tunes in Doom. Again, my biggest complaint with this song is that it's simply too short, but this complaint is all the more glaring for this track, in the face of the fact that A), it's house, and B) it's only 2:40!
Given my earlier praise of TO, you might expect that Secrets and Lies would be one of my favorites from this compilation, but alas, it was not to be. It's got a nice atmospheric opening, sure, but then it turns into ... lounge music?! I'm not, uh... I don't really know what to make of this track, other than to say that it doesn't really do anything for me, neither musically nor nostalgically. In fact, I can't even remember the source tune while listening to the track. Not my thing, but it sounds like ... well-produced lounge music. I guess. Something.
The Glass Moon is a powerful track, both because of the strong, forceful backbeat, and also because of the writhing, pain-wracked lead synth. The song itself is very like downtempo EBM. If you're a fan of the E1M8 theme, you can't really go wrong here. The original melody is duplicated with exacting precision, and the rhythm is kept perfectly by a solid double-bass. Recommended.
Ocean Pollen, the last track here by RoeTaka, is quite a bit more laid back than the last two - which isn't surprising, as it's probably the most relaxed song on this collection; certainly among songs that actually have a proper rhythm. RoeTaka has taken the E3M2 theme, a plodding metal ballad, and turned it into a chillout tune that would best fit a spy flick or an internet cafe. I'm a fan.
I had commented earlier that I didn't care for Pixietricks' singing, and Aria of the Damned is no exception. Again, I want to stress that I find no fault with her voice; she's a fabulous singer and I think she has an excellent career ahead of her - that said, I won't be the one buying her CDs. Her vocal style on these tracks (and especially this track) just does not appeal to me at all. That said, the rest of the song is well-put together, and it clearly reminds of the original. I just can't get past the vocals.
Iron Cathedral. What a cool name! What a cool song! This track rocks! Except, uh...it's only 2:13. BLAH! I realize the source tracks are short loops, guys, but really - when you make a song that jams this hard, well - it's unforgivable that this track is only 2:13. With that in mind, I have no qualms naming this as my second-favorite track on the disc. The style doesn't really suit Doom, in my opinion, and I can't make out the original in this song at all, but honestly, I don't really care, either. This song jams so hard that I had to do some research on heretofore unheard-of arranger Prophecy, only to discover that he had a track on OCR, an arrangement of Donkey Kong Country. I pass over mixes of games I didn't care for, so I didn't get to hear that track until now, but it too is excellent. A collaboration with Rexy over at VGmix is also a true winner. Great job!
Daniel Baranowsky's title track should, in theory, be the shining beacon guiding this compilation, but in reality it makes an awkward shift from the rest of the tracks, which are largely more electronic, to this one, which while likely synthesized, is still very orchestral in composition. Still, if you enjoy this kind of music, the track is unbelievable - the depth of range provided by the song (kept pure by the .flac encoding, mad props for that) is incredible, and you truly need a very nice pair of headphones or a nice home-theater system to appreciate this song to its fullest. Another song which could have afforded to be longer, it nevertheless packs a lot of suspense and emotion into its 3:55. Definitely recommended and a high point of the compilation.
Coming off from that orchestral opus, Darkness Dawning is just ... a let-down. I'm sorry, once again, I really can't abide the singing in this track (though this time they are provided by the equally capable Elsa Persson). I honestly have nothing against vocals in game arrangements - zyko, virt, and kadmium are three of my favorite musicians, let alone arrangers - but the vocals in these tracks seem to take a very gothic bent, and I just don't care for that. But if you like melodramatic wailing, be my guest.
As an ender to the disc, ElectroCute Bunny is bizarre. As a song in its own right, it's a fair arrangement, but as with many of the other tracks on these two discs, it's plagued with horrible EQ problems. Too much midrange, I think, though I'm certainly no expert. The song itself is pretty good, but it clashes terribly on my headphones, my 5.1 computer speakers, and my 2.1 home audio speakers. I played with the song a bit using my soundcard's digital equalizer, and amplifying the lows slightly while minimizing the midrange (and leaving the highs alone) helped the song's listenability considerably - but, of course, it made most of the rest of the tracks virtually unlistenable. Revealed was a fairly nice arrangement of the ending theme in a peculiar trip-hop / breakbeat crossover style. It's a shame I won't be listening to it much, really.
So, on the whole, that makes - what, 13 out of 23 tracks that I liked? That's not so bad, eh? More than half! Hell, if every CD I bought had that kind of ratio, I'd buy a lot more CDs, I'll say that. Honestly, if you like Doom's music, and you like electronic styles, you will enjoy at least some of the tracks in this collection. Hardcore metalheads and purists should stay away, though.