Listen: Echoes of the Past
Ten years ago… I got thrown out of a club. It wasn’t something I did habitually… or ever. I hadn’t had a single drink, swallowed any pills, threatened the bartender or leered at any disinterested women in close proximity. No. I was violently heaved from the premises as I casually danced with a plastic tree. It seemed the most obvious choice as I wasn’t about to you know… ask someone to dance (I try to go through my life annoying the fewest amount of street pedestrians as possible). So I chose this immutable, inanimate mock up of a coconut tree. Now, mind you, I was completely isolated from everyone, and there was nobody for a good 100 feet on all sides. Then out of nowhere these two HUGE bouncers grab me one on each arm, dragged me outside and flung me into the street. Not the sidewalk… the street. On my way through the air, I hit one of my co-workers who was on her way to meet up with our group. I never went out in Austin when I lived there. The ONE time my friends invite me to come out, and not 20 minutes into our night, I get tossed out into traffic. There is something though that will never leave me about that moment and the reason this story bears repeating here: hitting the pavement, and more importantly the grime, I became equated to nothing in someone’s eyes. The catapult to the road left me lying in the street face down in muck. You never feel like a zero, until you meet the being Zero – his filthy asphalt, the upchuck that dotted his landmass. It’s a very important thing to understand when approaching Metro: Last Light, and composer Alexey Omelchuk’s lavish spectacular of ponderous basalt and weighted granite.
Listen: Halls of D6
Omelchuk certainly knows how to shovel the grim, and rightly he should, as it is core to the game’s tenability and central in defining the level and pitch of discomfort in players. When it goes below the surface, you can feel the traces of light lose their incandescence. Omelchuk deftly references the disorientation one might feel amongst a world bathed in soot. It’s more than just survival. It’s knowing what not to touch, and that every step carries with it the ability to incapacitate and disfigure. What’s incredible is how Omelchuk seems to count off: “Two steps to the left and a slide against that wall will reach our encampment.. 7 steps and a turn and I’ve…” Omelchuk has dedicated himself to decoding the variations of Metro’s prodigious grayscale and in doing so, provides a recollection of his wanderings down to the subtle shudder of his eyelids when startled by his own breath. Few composers could ever hope to match his sense of instilled, constant panic. It’s a much more basic fear he’s channeling too, much like the timidity of a child who has yet to discover there is nothing inherently dangerous about the dark. The emotion Omelchuck derives is the one that lacks the confidence of age, the absence of reassuring mantras, and the perspicacity to discern what is real and what is phantom.
Listen: Vessel of Sin
To call Metro: Last Light all blacked volcanic rock, would do total disservice to it, as Omelchuk has crafted not only its unforgiving austere soil, but also the surrounding worldview, its shifting culture, and the local’s harried diction. It grounds itself in reality, through random distribution of disparate temperatures. In one moment the cradling of a stricken comrade in his labored moment of passing, the very next a burlesque peepshow, the next showcasing a typical Friday night or an ice cream social – it‘s unclear which. It’s jarring on paper, but the movement from boardwalk to disease provides Omelchuk’s bi-polar anecdote with a persuasive and effectual power. Omelchuk came on the scene much earlier than anyone else here, and as the structures collapsed and people reached desperation, they turned to the man for guidance. Omelchuk is both fastidious and exhausting when he speaks of those early years, but nonetheless, his collected charts and history are fascinating to behold.
Given the astonishing amount of Omelchuk’s work on Metro: Last Light, you might be tempted to think that somewhere along the line he loses grip, or perhaps stalls out under the shattering weight of expectation… but to Omelchuk neither length, subject matter nor conjecture from stockholders ever seem to derail his resolute vision, or cloud its potency. Omelchuk does something completely brilliant to maintain his hold: he plays every piece here like rock groups play in crowded clubs. He mutates, never musing too long on one single musical passage or another; he plays the radio hits for his casual audience, and never forgets his more dedicated fans; he goes dark with songs so off the radar you actually had to be there the day those 7-inches were cut. Metro: Last Light plays like the very best double albums you own: something that sprawls, but is genius and cohesive in all of its motivations. Omelchuk is an entertainer, and never has it been more obvious than on his lengthy thesis for Metro: Last Light.
Listen: The Last Stand
Omelchuk is everything the universe of Metro requires, but he’s infinitely more than that sum. His charisma goes beyond the empty application of hand gestures and the brow-beating of his flock. It takes more than the spirit to lead those who might follow him to his mountaintop. It requires familiarity with those constituents, with the water they drink, the children they rear, and the strength of hands to lay upon them.
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Having fallen in love only 4 times in his life Geno counts Double Dragon as his second and truest love. He has worked in record retail since 2000 and believes David Hayter to be the one true Solid Snake. Currently, he is putting together a band which only perform songs from Street Fighter 3rd Strike.