Dead Island: Riptide, the next chapter in Deep Silver's survival-horror game franchise which hit store shelves last week, moves the grand-scale zombie mayhem to a new setting (the survivors escape via ship to yet another infested tropical isle), but otherwise picks up the thread where the first game left off – so it's only fitting that award-winning composer Pawel Blaszczak (Call of Juarez) does the same in scoring this installment. Blaszczak's potent dramatic themes gave a huge boost to the original Dead Island, especially when it came to the dramatic promo trailer. That said, the composer goes for a more experimental edge here, with a jarring, often chaotic score that blends aggressive industrial beats, treated piano and jagged rhythms with tribal percussion and slow, dark ambient washes.
There's a retro vibe to many of these tracks, particularly "It is Coming,” "Delusions of Anchors," “Maladjustment" and "Treading Blood" with their noodly analog-style synths, and Blaszczak projects those same high, cutting tones over deep, bubbling textures and atonal drones in cues like "Sleep of the Hunted" and "Cut Through the Water," which truly gives the sonic impression of something evil breaking through the waves. The marine atmosphere also comes across in the floating waterphone metallics of "The Lighthouse Shines Red," and exotic island textures infuse tense tracks like "Fever Dreams" and "Siren Wails." The aptly named "Weather and Grit" has a glitchy, chopped-up and distorted lead – an effect put to further use in industrial-edged tracks like "Plunging Knives," which brings many of the score's action & horror strengths into play:
At the midpoint, more odd tonal percussion elements are folded in, turning tribal rhythms into nightmarish rituals in cuts like "Pressing Patter." An oasis of calm before the carnage comes in the form of pensive piano pieces "Let It Be Haven," "Drifting Above" and "It Can Last,” and the gentle ambient pulses of "Solace In Swells" and "Cradled." But the horror returns abruptly with "Lacerations,” ans as we near the finale with cues like "Hands in the Sand," more traditional orchestration (though sampled) is used – which is less interesting musically, but does succeed in ramping up the tension beats before the haunting coda "No Stars Out." In all, Blaszczak's compositions are a worthy addition to – and continuation of – the memorable Dead Island vibe, adding more lo-fi grit and metallic menace to the mix, which elevates the proceedings from more standard survival-horror action cues into a moodier, more exotic adventure, and raises the production value of the game in the process.
Here's a little bonus: although not part of the game play or the CD, the track “No Room in Hell” was written and performed by hip-hop artist J7 specifically for a Dead Island: Riptide promo last fall, in which he steps into the role of rapper Sam B, one of the game's lead characters. Check it out below!