Skyrim and Dark Souls represent complete opposite ends of the gaming experience for me. Dark Souls is the kind of old school, sadistic, obtuse and at times maddeningly difficult videogame that I grew up with, while Skyrim is a pleasant, relaxing, easy, calming experience that is more indicative of today’s player-friendly approach to gaming. I will probably never get around to finishing Dark Souls after dying to Ornstein and Smaough 12 times only to use my humanity and have some high level pyromancer douchebag invade and two-hit kill me right before I got to the boss door. Many yelled at me to get help from someone else but I resent any game that bases its difficulty on getting help from other people. Not big into games that can’t decide if they’re an RPG or an MMO. It’s one of the things I love about Skyrim – there are no other real people in it. Still, Dark Souls is a great game and it certainly merited a song, even if it wasn’t the one some people wanted.
First up: Question time!
Why do you layer up your voice so many times?
Because I like how it sounds.
You know you’re never going to top (insert latest song here) right?
Really? Because people said the same thing about “Redemption Blues,” “The New Black Gold,” “Commander Shepard,” “Sovngarde Song,” “Joker’s Song” and now “Take It Back.”
When the ****ing *** is the ***ing song with Malukah coming out???? We’ve been waiting forever!
Sorry, I know. Soon. Hopefully within 10 days. Just waiting on the video now! It’s worth the wait, I promise.
How’s the Les Paul sounding?
She’s beautiful. Can’t stop looking at her and playing her. I think my girlfriend is jealous.
Did you know that I have bought many games because of your songs about them?
Tell the devs that. 😉
Will you be doing a SWTOR song?
No. I have an addictive personality so MMOs scare me.
Will you cover ‘x’ song?
I generally don’t like doing cover versions because a) copyright issues and b) I prefer to make my own stuff
Due to Dark Souls’ morbid themes of death, death and more death many people expected a song that would be dark, ominous and full of angst. I preferred to make a song that was more fun and completely took the piss out of my utter inability to master the game. The intro is long, dark and ominous but in a cartoonish, over the top manner, like the intro to a children’s Halloween musical or something. The only really serious part was the middle “sun’s rays” part, which some people also had an issue with but I’ll get to that in a bit.
Just before Christmas I bought a sofware program called Kontakt. What this lets me do is pick from a selection of reasonably realistic sounding orchestral instruments and play them through my keyboard, through MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface). “Sovngarde Song” was the test subject for the program and most would agree it worked out quite well. This month’s two songs relied heavily on this software, one for its main riff and the other for every single instrument. It was fun to do something different and jump out of my “drums, guitar and synths” comfort zone and I do hope to try it again sometime soon.
I layered up an absolute shit-ton of vocals on this one. The intro alone has over 24 vocal tracks all singing together, as well as a choir effect from the keyboard. I like it because it sounds huge and powerful.
Lyrically the song is written mainly from the point of view of the game itself, a first for me. It is as if the game is a twisted, sadistic living being that taunts, trolls and tortures you as you die over and over and again, laughing gleefully at you every time you fail. It’s how I felt playing the game to be honest. I knew lots of players would laugh and relate to the graveyard line, almost everyone who played the game got annihalated in there at the start of their adventure.
The “look to the sun’s rays part” was meant to represent those few glorious moments where the game lets you take a breather and admire a beautiful vista. In any other game it’s a pleasantry but in Dark Souls it is a rare and therefore extra special thing, full of joy, peace and relief. Hence why that section was softer and more serious sounding than the cartoonish mocking vocals in the rest of the song.
An interesting and pointless trivia, my girlfriend slept through the entire vocal session on this song, in the same room. I never usually record vocal tracks while she’s in the room but she fell asleep behind me in the middle of the afternoon and I wanted to get it done that day. She said she had some strange dreams, I imagine it was rather odd hearing someone yelling “You Died!” over and over while you sleep, ha!
The very sharp and abrupt ending is meant to sound like a rage quit. If you listen carefully right at the end you can hear a controller being thrown, taken from my pathetically noobish Let’s Play on YouTube.
It was a bit short.
So are your lives in Dark Souls.
Why does it take so long to get going? There’s no singing for an entire minute.
The intro is far too long.
Have you ever seen a musical? Listened to an opera, a 70’s or prog rock song? There is nothing wrong with a long intro. It is there to add a dynamic. I’m amazed anyone who played Dark Souls, or games in general for that matter, could have such a short attention span.
This song seemed more like it was to reflect the player’s frustration and misery as opposed to the game’s grim atmosphere, and as such is hilarious.
Yeah this was one of those songs that seemed to make more sense to those who played the game, which is understandable.
Honestly I thought that the song kind of sucked and the video could of been better than having a bunch of dumb deaths.
Oh, totally agree. A song about dying over and over in a videogame should never be accompanied by a video of someone dying over and over in a videogame. What possible connection is there between the two?
You’re going from bad to worse.
Why, thank you.
Dark Souls is easy.
The tone was all over the place. First it was jokey and then it was serious. WTF.
So … humor and serious things must be mutually exclusive? Not in my mind.
This was a very easy song to write and put together. I am, after all, an Irishman, and it’s a song about getting drunk. It was also the first MOS I sang completely in my own Irish accent as it felt kind of fitting for the subject matter.
Some musically-minded fans noticed that the main chord sequence in the song has the same basic movement as the main Elder Scrolls theme, and that the song is in the same key and uses the same sounds as “Sovngarde Song,” so the two seem to flow into eachother when listened to back to back. Yes, these are both intentional things and it’s cool that people noticed. Think of them like sister songs, “Sovgarde Song” is the tall, elegant, sombre sister that’s lovely to look at while “Nord Mead” is the short, slightly funny-looking one that’s more fun to go drinking with.
The instrumentation and melodies were meant to sound kind of Celtic/Irish. I was thinking of a mix between the Dropkick Murphys and the Pogues, with a little bit of Viking metal for good measure. The odd song structure (verse, chorus, middle bit that’s almost a new song / kind of chant thing, verse, chorus) was a direct result of people moaning that I always used the same structure. Whether or not it worked I shall leave up to you guys.
I absolutely loved Justin’s video for this one. There were so many brilliant visual gags from the dancing Nord, to the Fus Ro Dah’ing of the Skooma and other drinks (I nearly fell off my chair laughing when he knocked over the barman at 2:06) and my all time favorite MOS video moment, walking in on alcoholic Lydia looking brazen and guilty at the same time in a sea of empty mead bottles … with a bowl attacking her head. Amazing.
That Irish accent was terrible. Please don’t try to do one again.
I would pay ten dollars for a DLC that let me see the look on his face as he was promptly told by fans that I was Irish.
You need to change up your style once in a while.
What! This again? Rage! FUuuu – ah … wait … I see what you did there. It was a lampoon. A simple lampoon. [Runs off with briefcase] (that was an InBetweeners reference. I love that show).
Do you listen to Blind Guardian?
Never heard them but everyone seems to think I sound like them.
Is this sung to the tune of “Sovngarde Song,” but sped up? Kind of sounds like it.
Not quite but you’re on the right track (see above)
I think a round of applause to Justin for the video!
Agreed, and buy him a round of mead too while we’re at it.
Smoke a bunch of weed
And another bunch of weed
smoke another bunch of weed
Till you fall down
Nice to see people interpreting the songs in a way that’s relevant to themselves!
It could use an extra chorus at the end.
I used to put extra choruses at the end of my songs, but then I took a gaming community to the “You always use the same structure.”
I have no idea which songs I’m going to talk about next month guys. I might do some older ones if there are any in particular you want. As always, let me know!