If you haven't read Carl Lyon's review of ACW Games' Zombie Squash for iOS, be sure to check it out now (don't worry, we'll wait), because if the mere mention of horror legend George A. Romero, a carrot-shooting bunny and undead garden spawn doesn't get you at least a little bit excited, you just might be a zombie yourself. Along with the voice talents of Romero – the Godfather of the Living Dead – in the wacky role of mad scientist “Dr. B.E.Vil,” another major highlight is the rowdy metal score by Roy Z – a multi-talented musician and producer whose magic touch has graced releases by Judas Priest, Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson, Sepultura and Sebastian Bach. Roy handles multiple music duties on this project, including all guitars, bass and keyboards, with most of the rhythms supplied by Dave Moreno, Roy's bandmate in Latin-infused hard rock unit Tribe of Gypsies.
As Carl pointed out in his review, the Zombie Squash theme song – originally written by the game's creator, Attila Juhasz – is just one example of how catchy these tunes can be. The, ahem, “lyrics” consist of nothing more than the game's title being repeated over and over again in a goofy monster voice, so it's not that hard to make it stick... but fortunately it's crazy fun, matches the 'toony tone of the game, and gives Z a lot of latitude to tear into eccentric chords and creepy-crawly fretwork, while Moreno keeps the beat intense but rock-steady. The song appears in its original game version and a “Dr. B.E.Vil Mix,” which is pretty much the same tune but with some deranged cackling from Romero mixed in, so it actually suits the tone of gameplay even better. Of course, the Doc gets his very own theme song, which opens the album with horror effects and a spooky, reverb-soaked guitar lead. (Sorry, George doesn't provide vocals here... yeah, I was kinda bummed too.) From there we're off and running with the manically thrashy “Destroy,” which also serves as the album's lead single and will no doubt convince you how intense this game can get:
Apart from “Survive,” which is similar in tempo and attitude to “Destroy,” there's a lot of variety on tap here: we get the effects-driven industrial groove “I Am Alive,” the cyber-tribal beats of “Derelicts” and the gritty, drop-tuned chunk of “Hammerhead,” while there's a certain '80s Goblin vibe to the drum machine-backed chords of “I Walk Alone” and the synth choirs of “Lament for the Zombies.” Across this assortment of styles, there's also a flamboyant, playful tone that keeps the tracks consistently fun, enough to mix nicely with a wide assortment of Halloween music... so obviously the timing of this release is perfect. While it doesn't break new creative ground, it's successful in capturing the over-the-top animation of the game, and it's consistently spooky enough to crank at your Halloween party, which apart from the game is probably the ideal listening environment. If Romero's voice as the Doc had played a larger role, this record would likely be a standalone fan favorite... then again, you can always play the game if you really want to hear George cut loose.
The Zombie Squash Original Soundtrack is available now as a digital download from Sumthing Else Music Works, and an expanded version of the game itself has also just been released for the iOS and Android platforms via iTunes, Amazon and Google Play. You can find out more (and download free stuff, like the movie-style poster below) at ZombieSquash.com.