While playing the most recent version of EA's NHL video games series I had a couple of thoughts. The first was that while I'm sure the new skating engine is very realistic it also makes the game incredibly frustrating when combined with the AI having magnetic sticks and all the goalies having been crossbred with Shiva. The second was that I'd finally had enough of the soundtrack. At this point I imagine that you've either replaced the included songs with your own, or you've done what I do and calmly accept to loathe yourself as you hum along. That's part of the reason that I've waited so long before writing this review.
But still you may wonder why I would bother to review the soundtrack for a video game series that has not recently been known for its high quality soundtracks? That's a perfectly good question. I feel that between video games and NHL arenas hockey fans are exposed to a wide range of crap that could only be cooked up by marketing teams whose only tools are Google and poorly constructed focus groups. Responding to these songs is just my way of keeping my head above the argyle and mint scented waters of insanity.
Anti-Flag "Broken Bones"
A punk song from a hockey loving punk band is going to immediately be better than the majority of tracks on the soundtrack. It also helps that the lyrics can be neatly tied into hockey. Although the track's inclusion does lose points for censorship. I don't have anything bad to say about this song because its among the few quality songs that pop up in the game.
Arkells "Whistle Blower"
Not bad as far as your typical alt rock goes. With EA NHL soundtracks often you have to evaluate songs by how little pain that is causes you. This track is drowning in its own inoffensiveness, which makes it perfect for a sports video game's soundtrack. It gives arenas around the league more options for white noise during TV timeouts. The only downside is that these combined actions only encourage more kids to seriously examine a career in contemporary music pointlessness.
Band of Skulls "The Devil Takes Care of His Own"
This song doesn't really bother me. It is actually sort of an interesting listen with its grungey, blues rock. Major points will be docked for forcing me to listening to some guy moan "if you're dancing you're a dancer" multiple times. Granted I might not be giving the band enough credit. They could mean that one is defined by a singular activity. I play video games, but I don't really think I'm a gamer. Similarly I shouldn't let the band's crappy lyrics lead me to assume that they are shitty writers.
Bassnectar "Pennywise Tribute"
Yep, this is a pretty pointless "dance" version of a song that is so tired and worn in the world of hockey that even the Flyers stopped using it as a goal song. Its annoying enough where I'm not going to bother listening to more than first thirty seconds. I've played enough of the game that I don't need to remind myself of whatever unnecessary crap Bassnectar added.
Battleme "Shoot the Noise, Man"
Certainly one of the more interesting tracks, but if you replaced the effects with guitars and deeper voiced singer then you start to see that the EA team up in Canada might have a certain song type they like. Then again Battleme seems to exist solely to produce songs to appear on soundtracks. With the current state of the recording industry I imagine that is a very profitable way to go about things. Kudos to Battleme for innovating.
Classified "Run with Me"
This song is perfect for people that don't care about lyrics or are mildly sociopathic. Or have no tact. The beats and the flow is nice, but the lyrics get so bad that trying to actively listen to the song makes me feel bad for Classified. EA will censor the word "fuck" but is lyrics about semen and lap dances are cool. You wouldn't want your young son or daughter learning a curse word, but its cool if they hum along to the line "Yea, I'm a titty and an ass man/ at the cheapest strip club getting a lap dance." Going back and listening to the song from the in-game player I'm surprised at how much of the song survived the editing process.
Foxy Shazam "I Like It"
I'm pretty hit or miss with Foxy Shazam. The entire band is clearly very talented, but I often struggle with the band lyrically. This song is pretty much a more crass version of big bottom girls. But remember kids, no cursing while you're objectifying women.
The Gaslight Anthem "45"
Hey, my favorite track off the newest Gaslight Anthem album. Its a safe song for sure, but it is a good song. It might sound a little dated alongside the rest of the soundtrack though. Shockingly my personal bias may be showing.
Monster Truck "Seven Seas Blues"
This is basically the same thing as the Battleme and Band of Skulls tracks. Whatever, there it is.
My Darkest Days "Save Yourself"
I'm not even going to listen to this song while I write about it. Its not offensive beyond the incredibly bad lyrics. In its defense it is a well perfectly constructed song ready for the airwaves. When I'm in the menus of NHL 13 I catch myself singing along to the chorus, and it makes me hate myself. These guys are too well produced to pull off they extreme bad boy image they are trying to portray. What actually managed to be worse than this song are the multitudes of people that seem obsessed with it to the point of filming high-quality YouTube covers of the song. Yeah, it is super catchy... but please, for your children's sake listen to the words coming from the singer's mouth. Its embarrassing.
The Heavy "What Makes a Good Man"
The Heavy have given us one of the more listenable tracks from NHL13. Its got deriving blues with plenty of soul. Really at this point I'm getting broken down enough that this song practically shines in relation to many of the others. Its a bit difficult to know what the singer is talking about, but it is a hell of a song.
The Hives "I Want More (NHL13 Mix)"
Yes, another track that is structurally similar to the Monster Band of Battle Skulls. It isn't quite as grunge soaked which plays to its advantage, but I'm pretty much over it. Do The Hives still get a pass since they were once the saviours of rock and roll?
The Offspring "Days Go By"
The mere fact that this isn't grunge or garage rock makes that new Offspring seem leaps and bounds better. Who thought that in 2012 The Offspring would be providing a cool drink of water on the soundtrack of a sports video game. Still, the album was pretty poor, but The Offspring really only ever put out two good albums.
No, I'm not doing this one.
Thousand Foot Krutch "Light Up The Sky"
A band that uses a K in place of a C and raps over nu metal? Guys, stop. You've been doing this since 1995. Rap metal is really the ska punk of the metal world, except ska bands know better than to take themselves that seriously.
Zombie Nation "Kernkraft 400 (Stadium Chant Mix)"
Its hard to really talk about a song mixed specifically for stadiums. This song is used all over the world for multiple sports. Reviewing this is sort of like judging identical snack-size bags of salt and vinegar potato chips.