I don’t know anything about the Doomstone game or its setting, but the Doomstone soundtrack is a marvelous compilation of neo-Western industrial instrumental rock—if I can put all those adjectives together without sounding silly. The whole album is characterized by creative and variegated instrumentation accented by occasional ambient vocals. Composer Ralf Kurtsiefer pulls everything together superbly, producing an album that vividly evokes an “industrial west” and offers a great listening experience.
“Doomtitan” is a thunderous, ominous piece, heavy on percussion and accented by vague vocals. “Skalpjaeger” (“Scalp Hunter”) evokes an attack by stereotypical Hollywood Indians. “Vollstrecker” (“Executioners”) is plodding and mournful, as if following a condemned criminal to the noose or the firing squad. “Todesbote” (“Death’s Messenger”), accented with the cawing of crows, announces that death is coming. “Messias” (“Messiah”) has a hymnic yet still ominous quality, with a lush vocal accents. “Jenseits des Grabes” (“Beyond the Grave”) starts with a “tinkly” sound, more melodic than wind chimes but of about that timber, but then layers into long, mournful tones that give way, about halfway through, to a sense of danger.
“Staubreiter” (I’m not sure how to render that in English) includes a whistled melody that then gets picked up by guitars. My copy ends rather abruptly at 0:53; I don’t know if this is by design or if there’s a problem with OneBookshelf’s copy of the file. Heavy guitars announce the onset of the “Duell der Raptoren” (“Raptors’ Duel”). “Scharfschuetze” (“Sharpshooter”) creates an air of suspense with a lowered volume and airy effects. “Deathrock Canyon” sounds a lot like “Todesbote” at the beginning, but remains subdued throughout.
“Frontaler Angriff” (“Frontal Attack”) returns to heavy guitar and drums; both the name and the music imply a violent confrontation. Then, from out of nowhere, the beautiful “Ruhiger Ritt” (“Quiet Ride”) turns to light rock, with a sound almost approaching New Age. A “Saloon” lies at the end of that quiet ride, though the funky music puts me in mind less of a Western saloon than a modern lounge.
“Erbe der Wanagi” (“The Wanagi’s [Ghost’s] Legacy”) is a spooky piece, remind us that all is not well even after a quiet ride and a stop at the saloon. “Rebellen” (“Rebels”) bring us back to violence; the music makes me think of a determined band of heroes marching purposefully toward a big confrontation.Like “Saloon,” “Sonnentanz” (“Sundance”) has a very modern feel; its techno elements evokes images of a nightclub or even a rave. Since I don’t know anything about the Doomstone setting, I don’t know what “Imperial City” the name of the track refers to; it’s a big, sweeping piece that feels like it should be playing in a move when the heroes arrive to save the day. “Sturm” (“Storm”) wraps things up with a combination of fear and hope, underscoring the sense of a climactic fight.
Alas, I cannot give this album unqualified praise (at least, not yet). Although offered as background music, the tracks have definite beginnings, endings, and internal movements, and none of them loop well. Since it’s hard to orchestrate RPG scenes so that they hit their peaks and valleys at just the right moments, music that aspires to score an RPG—especially short tracks like those on the Doomstone soundtrack—must loop gracefully (and “seamlessly” would be even more desirable). Sadly, the tracks on the Doomstone soundtrack don’t accomplish this important goal. Also, the ID3 tags for these tracks were poorly populated, as of my download on June 21, 2012; in fact, only the comments field was populated at all—with the comment “From DriveThruRPG.com.” I don’t know whether Nackter Stahl Verlag chose not to populate the ID3 tags, or whether DTRPG’s process for injecting its “comment watermark” stripped the other tags. Either way, the ID3 tags need attention.
Other than those relatively minor (because they don’t affect the sound at all) points, Doomstone is an excellent instrumental rock album. I might end up using the music while gaming; I’ll definitely listen to the album when I want some energetic but nonintrusive music.
[4 of 5 Stars!]