2016's Doom and Doom Eternal get enthusiastic praise for their gunplay and level design, but it's perhaps more impressive that Mick Gordon's soundtracks can sway the non-metalheads among us to bang their heads. Gordon's music is inseparable from Doom's bloody, over-the-top action, but it's also just good listening. That's why some fans were confused by the Doom Eternal soundtrack mix, and it seems Gordon shares their concerns.
Over the weekend, a Twitter thread by user @thatACDCguy caught the attention of audiophile Doom fans. Comparing the waveforms of Doom 2016's "BFG Division" and the remix "BFG 2020," taken from Doom Eternal's soundtrack release, the latter track looks like it's been hastily compressed within a specific range. All of its layered instruments are playing at around the same volume, resulting in a less dynamic mix.
Gordon himself replied to the thread, saying he only mixed a "small handful" of tracks on the album release and "wouldn't have done that" on the songs in questions had he mixed them. Later, another fan alleges Gordon told them he doubts he'd work on another Doom game.
"I take a lot of pride in my work," says Gordon, speaking with PC Gamer about the soundtrack situation. "It's all I do, it's all I have and I pour my heart and soul into it."
Apart from saying he's still trying to understand it himself, Gordon declined to say more to PC Gamer. We've reached out to both Gordon and Bethesda, and will update this piece if we receive a response.
Regardless of what happened with the Doom Eternal soundtrack release or what it means for Doom players and fans of Gordon's music alike, this moment illustrates a common problem in music production. Final mixing and mastering of a recording is a vital act, even if the nuances can be difficult for the untrained ear to distinguish. Uniformly cranking up the volume of all parts and digitally compressing the result to uniform peaks is widely frowned upon, but it happens anyway.
One of the most infamous examples of this is actually Metallica's 2008 album Death Magnetic. With that, a producer used the separate uncompressed tracks from the album's Guitar Hero release to make a much better sounding unofficial mix. Let it be known: you can't pass rushed mixes off on fans of video games and metal.