Zombies: the kids love ‘em. Now you can have your very own zombie film soundtrack album thanks to the good folks at Nox Arcana; their Zombie Influx album is just the ticket to put a person in a brain-chomping mood.
All kidding aside, Nox Arcana has done some great work producing albums of evocative background music suitable for gaming and often inspirational for writing – whether fiction, gaming adventures or scenarios, or what have you. With Zombie Influx, Jeff Hartz of Buzz Works and Joseph Vargo of Nox Arcana explore new musical avenues of horror.
There is a fairly solid level of cohesion at work on this album’s 19 tracks; however, many of the cuts do not necessarily evoke zombie sort of horror. Most evocative here of a mob of zombies wandering aimlessly in search of food are the tracks “Ground Zero” and “Flesh Eaters,” with a chorus of hoarse, moaning voices winding through the opening strains of both. The title cut, last on the album, seems to contain some sound sampling – from, among other sources, the film “Night of the Living Dead” if I’m not mistaken, and does so to good effect, though the choice of looping phrases to repeat them several times in quick succession is more annoying than effective here.
A number of the cuts – notably “Satellite Radiation” “Post Mortem” and “The Pain of Dying” – would be highly suitable as background for any sci-fi situation, including Space Opera. In fact, I found them reminiscent of the incidental music found in Sci-Fi televisions series like Babylon-5. Likewise the track “Armageddon” reminded me of music from John Carpenter’s feature film “Big Trouble in Little China”
There was one aspect of the album that bothered me: Several tracks – “Defcon Six,” “Warning Signs,” “The Panic Spreads” and “Ravenous” – use a voice reading an emergency broadcast-type message over the top of the melody. The voice sounds hollow and echo-y, more like some random guy in a studio rather than an official person making a statement over the airwaves. The wording of the script seems to invoke fifties emergency alert broadcasts, but the quality of the sound mixing doesn’t compliment that effect. For this reason, these cuts fall flat.
Several tracks are ones I would be happy add to mixes or playlists regardless of the situation: “Creeping Death,” “Doomsday” and “Dead Run” can all stand on their own musically without needing to exist within the framework of the overall album’s theme.
This is a solid album even if the title isn’t catchy. Most of it wouldn’t stand up to listening as other than background/mood music, though some cuts are strong enough to hold their own. A couple of tracks seem a bit too long, and a few just don’t stand up to much scrutiny. Taken as a package, this album achieves what it sets out to: being a decent soundtrack for gaming other other pursuits, and being interesting and varied at the same time. At a $10 price tag for the download, it’s a decent deal, and one I would take gladly.
This review originally appeared on Flames Rising.com