In 1998, Metal Gear Solid took the world by storm with its story, and genre-bending gameplay. Even by today’s standards (standards it defined, let’s be honest), it is still tough to top. Really, everything about MGS raised the bar for continuing entries in the series as well as video games across the board.
One major component helping cement Metal Gear Solid as a modern classic was the music which gave the entire adventure a cinematic presence. It was persistent, driving, ominous, and helped make it feel like the stakes were high, with danger literally around every corner.
The music is a tapestry of bright and steely synths, complimented by a brooding chorus and electronic beats that almost serve as unexpected sound effects. The auditory backdrop added so much to help make this game so immersive, compelling and indelible…and that was in addition to all those signature Hideo Kojima elements (Meryl’s codec frequency being located on the back of the CD case, and the ingenious way to take down Psycho Mantis).
If you were a fan of action movies in the ’90s, it’s easy to note which scores inspired this Konami classic: Hans Zimmer & Nick Glennie-Smith (The Rock), Mark Mancina (Speed), Harold Faltermeyer (Top Gun) and, to some extent, Eric Serra (Goldeneye and The Fifth Element).
While it wasn’t recorded with an orchestra (like Michael Giacchino did with The Lost World: Jurassic Park), the music still conveys the thrill of a Hollywood score while using mostly electronic instruments. It didn’t need to sound symphonic to sound big, and even 20 years later, this propulsive synth soundtrack still gets the heart pumping.
Composed by KCE Japan Sound Team and Tappi Iwase (who wrote the main theme), the music waltzes between heroic and foreboding as we can go from to slow crawl to high intensity in the span of a few seconds. One of the fun things to take notice on this release is that while listening to tracks like “Intruder 3” with headphones, the sound travels from one channel to the other. You can imagine the sweep of the multiple surveillance cameras Snake encounters. And talking about the game’s legacy, Daft Punk (probably by accident) managed the same sort of pulsing sound in their TRON: Legacy score, specifically in the track “Armory”. It’s a good bet Daft Punk played the game a few times.
As far as packaging, this is one of Mondo‘s best to date, video game or otherwise. It has a very by fans, for fans feel to it and is designed in a palette of muted whites, greens and grays. Randy Ortiz‘s cover art is an impressive intermingling of Snake (the character) and actual snakes (the dangerous kind). If that wasn’t enough, the image is given a brilliant looking faux electronic scramble – very reminiscent of the codec’s burst transmissions from the game. Then there’s the gatefold that sports a similarly styled mural of all the animals from which the FOXHOUND team took their code names. It is gorgeous!
This release comes in two color ways: “green smoke” and standard black. The green smoke is expertly crafted. Were you to take this out of the sleeve you may hardly even notice the nebulous pattern to the vinyl. But hold it up to the light, and see all the detail and depth to the unique patterns (FYI: my daughter helped with the comparison photos below). It is very much in keeping with spy elements of this tactical masterpiece. Lastly, this soundtrack comes with an insert which has the track list and credits on one side, and a close up of Gray Fox’s helmet on the other.
What’s most exciting about each Mondo vinyl release is getting to pour over every square inch of the packaging in search of clever details or Easter eggs. One of label’s recent artistic calling cards is actually their logo. On the vinyl packaging, the Mondo brand is sometimes tailored to the specific release – take a look at the back of the obi or the bespoke disk label, and you’ll notice the logo has been inspired by the codec in the game.
It’s neat little flourishes like that which speak volumes as to how much the creative team cares about their work.
Check out the tracklist below…
A01. Metal Gear Solid Main Theme
B01. Intruder 2
B02. Warhead Storage
B03. Intruder 3
B04. Mantis’ Hymn
B05. Hind D
C01. Blast Furnace
C03. REX’s Lair
C05. End Title / The Best Is Yet to Come
D01. VR Training
D02. Metal Gear Solid Main Theme (1997 E3 Edit)
Pressed on 2X 180 Gram vinyl, this Mondo release contains the full OST – featuring the original song “The Best Is Yet To Come” by Rika Muranaka – and original artwork by Randy Ortiz. You can get your hands on a copy here…unless someone beats you to it. Whose footprints are these?!