Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Revolution! MIDI Pack (TVRMIDI.WAD)

Plenty of megaWADs have been released over the years without soundtracks, let alone all original ones. Doomworld forum superstar Jimmy has made a ton of music, too, and in 2011 he began his true passion project: creating scores for big releases that never actually had one. While he did the first one - Harmony - all on his lonesome, he tapped the entire community for an original soundtrack to The Plutonia Experiment and as of 2016 the Revolution! MIDI Pack as well. Some time in the future, hopefully, we'll see the Rebirth project bear flute. The big not-so-secret of this package is that it also contains a new level authored by Thomas van der Velden for the occasion to be found in the MAP33 slot.

TVRMIDI includes a total of forty brand new MIDIs from fourteen different authors. There is a unique, individual selection for every level as well as the title, intermission, and text screens and four bonus tracks that were submitted to the project but did not find their way into the final running order. The organizer himself had the biggest hand in shaping the feel of the soundtrack with six solo pieces and nine co-writer credits, the latter either joint ventures or - and I assume this - adjusting submissions in order to meet his standards for the final release. His own pieces are fairly varied, ranging from a rockin' track boasting a complex arrangement ("Reach Within") to forward-moving cuts featuring a sense of compulsion ("Freighthoppers" and "Hangar 7"), atmospheres of mystery and corruption ("Gargoyles" and "Clay"), and a heavily Latin-flavored excursion ("Last Resort").

Alfonzo comes at a distant second at four individual submissions and sharing three more with superfriend Jimmy... one of which features a kaiju composer. He appears to be fascinated by the entirety of the percussion toolkit which I found to be a little distracting but he's pretty good at establishing an atmosphere that complements each particular level. There's city sneaking ("Trash"), sinuous horror ("Unearth"), tip-toeing around a moldy old mansion ("Keepsake Fever"), and ironic terror ("King Roo"). Knezevich's compositions are less traditional compared to most of the soundtrack, with "Redback" and "Evil on Tour" going a bit further off the rails than his others, but they're more subversive in nature.

As opposed to Zan-zan-zawa-veia, whose zest for manic energy and unusual progressions is up front and completely unapologetic. "Phalarope Shuffle" is the most normal of his three entries and even there the two main instrument leads are heading at each other like two trains on a collision course before pulling back. Musical melee dominates the entirety of "Sappers & Moles" which is perfectly in keeping with the map it attempts to represent, "Battleground". The piece composed for the text screen cleverly encapsulates TVR's given ending where our hero impishly considers assuming the throne of the primordial God, Chaos... and does, though the upbeat tone attempts to convey the benevolence of your particular brand of anarchy.

That's about as weird as it gets. Clumsydoomer's submissions have a classic air and I could definitely see kicking around some castle maps or ancient ruins while they play in the background ("Acidic Lymph", "Empyrean Shard", "Souls Trapped Between Rotten Bricks"). Eris Falling is a bit more varied with a few tracks evoking adventure under sunsets ("Haze", "Beneath the Stars"). Meanwhile, "The Forgotten God" goes epic MIDI metal with "Battle of Chaos" sitting on the lighter side of the spectrum, boasting a bit of a Deep Purple flair. Viscra Maelstrom's works are no less diverse, ranging from the more atmospheric ("Mint Petal") to rockin' ("Ancient Enclosure") and something using elements of both ("Westopolis").

The rest of the crew only has one or two submissions per author. I really like the multifaceted lupinx-Kassman / Jimmy joint ("Smooth Infiltrator"), moving back and forth between funky footpadding and exploding action. I also enjoyed the moody atmosphere of Akse's "Mining For Paranoia" and while Hellish Godzilla's "Black Colossus" left me cold, "I Sacrifice" had just enough of what I felt was missing to win me over. Icytux's "Forgotten Valley" and KevinHEZ's "The Revenant", the latter serving as one of the more traditional selections barring its progression through a multitude of peaks and valleys.

While TVRMIDI includes a new level from Velden in the MAP33 slot ("Revoltlover", discussed at the end of this review), it also has a number of other nifty features in order to finish the spackling that some players might expect when playing such a highly-regarded megaWAD. First and foremost in my mind is a DeHackEd patch used to replace the names displayed on the automap as well as provide some much needed text screen content. The information in the latter was provided by the author himself, though it leaves out some of the explanation for the background story, only available from the Doomwiki article. It also has a cool ACS widget that tells you the track name and author at the beginning of every level. The last little remastering is a bonus WAD containing a new and I assume unique font to further polish the PWAD's presentation.

The overall result serves as a sort of much appreciated "deluxe edition", especially since its publication more or less marked the 15th anniversary of Revolution!'s original release. I only hope that Jimmy continues to marshall the particular producers of the Doom community so as to kit out further wanting WADs with unique musical experiences.

NOTE: Jimmy also released a soundtrack for Velden's TV1998 alongside TVRMIDI. All of the tracks featured therein originally came from this project. Some of the selections parallel the instances where TV recycled his older ideas for use in TVR.

by various authors

Tzimidzi Greets You!A short, upbeat track featuring a martial rhythm and a synth chorus accenting the melody. It's TITLEPIC music, definitely, but the vox and the harp arpeggios give it a really bright sound that I wouldn't associate with the plot of Revolution! beyond the potentially militant aspect of a rebellion.
Title Screen
"CWolf" and James "Jimmy" Paddock

FreighthoppersOpening with a sense of urgency, complementing the train setting. The main hook has a 4/4 + 2/4 time feel and elevates the mood by folding in the sensation of a waltz. The latter represents Velden's relaxed encounter design but still feels energized when juxtaposed with the pounding straight 4/4 break. A great match. I think that it favors a sci-fi setting.
MAP01: Carnivorous Cargo
James "Jimmy" Paddock

TrashThe emphasis on irregular percussion - particularly what sounds like a xylophone but also bongos and other Things - strikes me as cheeky and thus Alfonzo to the core. It's a moody, almost jazzy track that is ideal for skulking around in back alleys suffering from a light shower. I like the organ lead with its little flourishes and what I hear to be a marimba sneaking in for the finish. Great for "Trash"; would also work for covert ops or dystopian downpours.
MAP02: Depression
Augustus "Alfonzo" Knezevich

BystreetA more serious song, sporting a relatively sparse arrangement. The atmosphere is calm city streets undercut by some sort of tension just waiting to explode. The monotonous guitar riff and spread-out percussion even feels uptight; thank goodness that the bending bass loosens things up a bit. The lead tries to be a little funky, I think, but I'm just not buying it. I dig the chords, though. It definitely works for those late night strolls.
MAP03: Infestation
"Akse" and James "Jimmy" Paddock

WestopolisBlazing action beginning with a raucous riff and straightforward drums, then switching to a quiet bridge featuring chimes and a surf beat. The rest of the track works on blending the two perspectives together, beginning with a bridge that pairs the guitar and surf drums in a buildup. The early portions of TVR are not as intense to me as this song suggests but if any bit of fighting on Earth was going to be the worst it would probably be in a metropolitan area.
MAP04: Phobopolis
"Viscra Maelstrom"

Last ResortAh, yes; a little mellow Latin flair is the exact element needed to push the dark humor over the top. The trumpet lead is what really sells it to me but I also like the bass and Spanish guitar. It's an excellent fit for this little coastal community though I doubt whether it'll find its way into many traditional maps.
MAP05: R 'n R
James "Jimmy" Paddock

WastedIt's sludgy, which suits a sewer level, but that doesn't make it any more interesting to listen to. A plodding bass drum and simple, echoing riff comprise the first portion. The followup gets something like a dance beat with the high-hat and what I can only describe as a lazy, lackadaisical guitar line. I wasn't prepared for the sleigh bells.
MAP06: Wasted!
Adam "Doomkid" Post

Forgotten ValleyA chill drum beat underlays this pretty cool track. Some bits are underlaid with a 6/8 monotone riff to give an undercurrent of urgency while the melody has a sort of vaguely exotic flair. The spacing of the main guitar line reminds me of "Beck's Bolero". My favorite bit might be that hint of wonder during the bridge section. This could also fit nicely into an Egyptian level.
MAP07: The Valley of Death
Henri "Icytux" Vuortenvirta

Hangar 7Similar in structure and tone to "Freighthoppers" but the 7/4 signature is a bit harder to pin down and I think I prefer the slower feel and drum beat in the 4/4 sections. Also there's a section where the song fades to some quiet, atmospheric chords before coming back. I like whatever muted, metallic instrument is used for the rapid-fire percussion. I don't know if I ever ascribed a sense of pressure to the rocket levels but then again I never felt as though the missile was the threat...
MAP08: Rockit
James "Jimmy" Paddock

Phalarope ShuffleA fat, funky bass riff like a lumbering elephant... or maybe a mancubus. It's a nice backing track and after a couple of flute asides you get treated to a flute / organ solo versus a bass / church organ riff that comes desperately close to careening off the rails but pulls back just in time to start the track over. It's a fun piece. Maybe not absolutely representative of the map it backs, but it fits the use of heavy monsters just fine.
MAP09: Wrath of Man

Mint PetalA more mellow track from Viscra. I like the piano hook; it adds a bright element along with the chimes. Taken all together, it sounds cautiously upbeat. I know that some people hate MIDI horns but the solo near the end is a nice feature. The way it ends is underwhelming but it sounds like an actual non-showboating solo cutoff.  It's nice background music. Probably not for a facility where you can torture some unwitting monsters.
MAP10: Lab of the Lost
"Viscra Maelstrom"

Smooth InfiltratorPulling double duty between the calm and cool / funky bassline and drum beat but transitioning to a more driving, MIDI metal piece and then back again. The changes are usually presaged by some cool drum breaks and solos. A wind instrument line toward the end makes for a fantastic hook and for whatever reason reminds me of the relatively exotic arrangements that cause the Memento Mori soundtracks stand out to me. Excellent track and a good fit.
MAP11: The Transporter
Chris "lupinx-Kassman" Kassap and James "Jimmy" Paddock

Midnight DinnerThe 6/8 feel drives the more laid back sound and as a result the piece sounds like it's in a constant state of building up to a catharsis that never arrives. The toy piano playing in 4/4 is a great detail insofar as it adds a sense of wrongness. I don't know why, it just sounds like the sort of instrument you might use to portray an overrun / corrupted human settlement. Could be the tone of the piano or perhaps the way it plays against the normal rhythm.
MAP12: Utopia
"CWolf" and James "Jimmy" Paddock

HazeAnother track with a bright sound, this time thanks to using classical guitar arpeggios as the main hook while utilizing bells for part of the melody. Well, I say bright, but it's still got a lush, dark tone and a building drum rhythm that when taken as a whole feels stoic and speaks of sunsets. It could have made a pretty cool end credits theme but it works just fine as the chronicle of Doomguy's trek across the infested Utopian wilderness.
MAP13: Amok
Tristan "Eris Falling" Clark

Battle of ChaosThis track goes heavy but cuts a fine line between something like symphonic metal and Deep Purple thanks to those jazzy organ interludes that remind me of Jon Lord's playing in "Speed King" or "Highway Star". This would be really cool for any action-oriented level. "Dead End" is a little clunky with how it plays; while this doesn't match the absolute spirit of the level, that's hardly the author's fault.
MAP14: Dead End
Tristan "Eris Falling" Clark

Sappers & MolesAn action-oriented track featuring a solid 6/8 rhythm as its core. The rest is pure Z-z-z-v as a string orchestra tries to take over with playful but dark interjections and led by a trumpet. The horn leads the synths on successive excursions like some sort of pied piper. The concentration of the rhythm section falters on several occasions until it eventually succumbs, leading to a quiet and floating - but fast - waltz. It's a neverending battle and a treat to listen to. A bit weird for most players, maybe, but it fits well enough for me.
MAP15: Battleground

The RevenantStarts out as stomping MIDI rock before switching to a 6/8 feel that softens prior to reaching an atmospheric segment. Kevin has his fun there, bringing it down with a drawn-out descending section before building it back up to a thundering return to the opening theme. It's a fun track but it feels as though it was made for a penultimate map slot, like MAP29 or maybe 19.
MAP16: Utopia Factory

Mining For ParanoiaI really dig this one. It creates a mellow but moody atmosphere that easily accommodates any sort of dystopian or post-apocalyptic ruins with a simple but solid backing track. The guitar keeps things interesting without getting too flashy and drives the song through its entire length. The mining facility is a bit too action-packed on UV for this to really shine but the ambience on ITYTD or HNTR is ideal.
MAP17: The Miners

Acidic LymphA simple but beautiful piece with a strong "classic" feel. The harp dominates the instrumentation both in the melodic section when it's complemented by a quiet bassline and the second half where it takes over with constant arpeggios. The dark mood has an air of mystery about it making the track a great fit for exploring any sort of antiquated ruin so it's a good match for the treacherous chambers of "XS".
Vladislav "Clumsydoomer" Baymurzin

GargoylesAnother atmospheric track perfect for mysterious monuments. The relatively unusual melodic progression steeps the song in an exotic, dark wonder and the ubiquity of the harp makes for a bright, lush sound. The author has included both a bass solo toward the beginning and a guitar solo at the end. The former fits within the song's air of fascination while the latter serves as a climax of sorts.
MAP19: Xenocracy
James "Jimmy" Paddock

Black ColossusI get the sense of a sort of countdown taking place. It's slightly undercut by the drum beat, sounding like low-energy surf rhythm in places. It also has a very delicate sound thanks to all the strings and harpsichord. About the only time it feels anything close to its title is prior to the guitar solo, collapsing into some cool chords before returning to the main theme.
MAP20: X Marks the Spot
"Hellish Godzilla" and James "Jimmy" Paddock

UnearthSteeped in an atmosphere of something terribly wrong that begins via the repeated piano chord stingers and then falls into place with the subtle sustained notes in the background. The low, funky bass is definitely my favorite part and makes up one of the best stretches of music I've heard from the soundtrack so far. I'm not quite sold on the army of percussive instruments - sounding kind of clunky and tippy-tappy against the track's more subtle elements - but it's not all that distracting. 
MAP21: Hausterium
Augustus "Alfonzo" Knezevich

Empyrean ShardMore classic atmosphere from Clumsydoomer. The floating, 6/8 time and classical guitar reminds me of Greensleeves - in a really generic way, I'm sure - making it just as appropriate as "Acidic Lymph" for investigating ruins, medieval or otherwise. Certainly the forlorn facades in this corner of the realm of Chaos. The downbeat descending tones featuring in both the sustained backing notes and the piano / synth arpeggios give the track a grim, heavy feel.
MAP22: Beyond the Oracle
Vladislav "Clumsydoomer" Baymurzin

Ancient EnclosureKicks off with a high-hat rhythm that I'd expect to find opening a speed freak song and then relaxes into galloping MIDI metal a la "Powerslave" to make a very superficial comparison. The bridge / buildup section sounds really cool and VM has included a few flourishes here. They bestow an air of the exotic, appropriate for the oddly Egyptian enclosure. The clipped sound of the pizzicato 1/16th note runs is a little distracting.
MAP23: Pyramide of Pain
"Viscra Maelstrom"

Beneath the StarsThe overall atmosphere of this track is similar to the earlier "Haze". Martial drum beat, bright instruments, sad melodies, roll credits over sun setting behind the house of Chaos. The devil is in the details, of course, which include a run of rapid arpeggios on some instrument (that sounds like a marimba to me) instilling a sense of dark wonder followed by a killer guitar solo. "The Sect" is a little too cramped and action-packed for this one to really shine; I'd rather see it backing a long, slow canyon crawl.
MAP24: The Sect
Tristan "Eris Falling" Clark

Keepsake FeverAlfonzo has a lot of weird things going on here but the xylophone hook steals the show with its hollow, echoing sound. The choral opening and building, blazing snare roll create a lot of tension and then dissolves into a chill groove. At that point the whole thing just gels, moving through several solos including... tubular bells?? It's perfect for sneaking around in a spooky old mansion; a pity this one's so small. Very fun.
MAP25: The Prefect
Augustus "Alfonzo" Knezevich

Reach WithinA busy, action-packed outing. The melody - first played by the bass - is awesome but there are maybe four other really great riffs careening around and intermingling. It's got a strong MIDI rock feel but the piano and harpsichord class things up and add a nice, bright edge. I like how it drives faster at the end before swapping to a drum solo that restarts the goodness over again. For me, the movement in "Phragmobasidium" is a little too tactical and the visuals a bit too Doom II for this to reach its ultimate potential but I'm an adventurer at heart.
MAP26: Phragmobasidium
James "Jimmy" Paddock

ClayAs with the level itself, this track starts out feeling weird using the bass synth to strike an odd 3/4 cadence. It then switches to a more straightforward signature using strings, piano, and harp, which better encompasses the relatively normal castle-like portions of the map, only to return to the opening bit as if mirroring the player materializing in the coffin in the crematorium. I really like the gritty tone of the bass hook.
MAP27: Necrosis
James "Jimmy" Paddock

I SacrificeThe tympani adds some much-needed gravity to this solemn death march. I like the layering of synths beginning around the minute mark. At 2:45 there's a cool exotic flourish that brings to mind, I dunno, bullfighting before returning to the march, the latter getting some added tension from a rapid, rhythmic undercurrent. It certainly matches the opening visual of the black cross overlooking a red sea.
MAP28: Exodus
"Hellish Godzilla", James "Jimmy" Paddock, and Augustus "Alfonzo" Knezevich

Souls Trapped Between Rotten BricksMuch in keeping with Clumsydoomer's style but this one has a sweeping, epic feeling - perfect for a penultimate level track. It's hinted at in the bright, harp-heavy opening but explodes when the snare drum kicks in and just builds from there. The return to the rolling 6/8 harp section comes with the addition of a nice guitar solo. The song sounds grander in scope to me than the level it's meant to back, particularly since the music involves a feeling of momentum that the map itself lacks as it's still full of Velden's tricks and fake-outs.
MAP29: Hall of Maim
Vladislav "Clumsydoomer" Baymurzin

The Forgotten GodFuneral for a fiend! Nice build-up to the chugging bass rhythm. I really like the chord progression backed by the sustained organ notes that immediately follow. The track really explodes around 01:50 where it turns into thumping and bumping MIDI metal, reaching its climax with a wicked cool guitar solo before cooling off for the loop. Pretty good final boss music even if Chaos is kind of a chump. Would also work well in a kickass MAP29 buildup.
MAP30: The Forgotten God
Tristan "Eris Falling" Clark

RedbackThe echoing stingers on the downbeats make for a potent hook. For some reason it calls Mark Klem to my mind but the backbone of this track is the interplay between the tricky drum rhythm and liquid, popping bass. Not that I mind the melodic guitar around 00:45. There's a bright upturn at the 01:50 mark, which may throw traditionally-oriented ears for a loop, but "Redback" was probably going to be beyond them anyway. It's a fun listen and the main hook is Doom to the core so it fits just as well as anything else for the first secret map.
MAP31: Raw
Augustus "Alfonzo" Knezevich and James "Jimmy" Paddock

King RooIt's got a weird time signature - 11/8 or something - and has a funky vibe primarily because of the bass. Parts of it are low key which emphasizes the fact that this level is stuffed with hitscanners so there's potentially a lot of sneaking around. The "zombie" part appears to be reflected in first a warbling guitar and later horn. It's a sort of pulp horror feel reminding me of the theremin and doesn't take itself too seriously so this might complement anything that has a spooky but silly vibe.
MAP32: "Zombie or Not to Be"
Augustus "Alfonzo" Knezevich

Evil On TourAn atmospheric piece fielding an almost cartoonish edge thanks to the more sing-song riffs. It starts out sinister enough and builds tension up until about the minute mark after which it gets a little goofy. Such keeps well with Velden's mapping sensibilities considering that this level has the upper portion of a revenant built into its geometry as well as rewarding you via crusher upon grabbing the secret automap. It would also probably fit alongside maps aiming for a dark tone and featuring a lot of fast-moving action.
MAP33: Revoltlover
Augustus "Alfonzo" Knezevich, James "Jimmy" Paddock

Imp's TraditionAhahaha, baroque and roll. A delightful little piece whose classical sensibilities may be poking at Revolution's status as a "classic" megaWAD. I like the progression from guitar to reed organ, to a duet that pairs the latter and the bass, to one final guitar solo.
Intermission Screen
"DoomLover234" and James "Jimmy" Paddock

Why Settle For Colonel?A funky rhythm and what sounds like a Hammond organ. It's just as impish as the sentiment included in the end text, with Doomguy contemplating taking the throne of Chaos for himself. I like how the decision appears to be made in the composition by using a pause and surge from around 01:00 to 01:05, after which the music takes on a sort of discord of its own. Every instrument besides the drum beat sounds as though it's doing its own thing! Conceptually appropriate, especially with Velden's own sense of humor as directed at the player.
Text Screen


These musical selections were songsmithed under the auspices of the Revolution! MIDI Pack project and while they may not have made the final cut they remain a part of the finished package.

Dead TimeOn the one hand, the rhythmic high-pitched tone is really annoying. Not the triangle; it cuts in around 00:34. On the other, it stands in pretty well for the kind of alert siren that might be playing upon breaking into a secure location and it doesn't last the entire length. The not-so-rockin' parts of the song are pretty atmospheric and have an almost comic tip-toe feel. It ought to pair well with any tech installation undergoing a break-in scenario.
unused track
"Viscra Maelstrom"

Graveyard ShiftThis is some furiously pumpin' and cookin' MIDI rock. I like when the synths kick in at the minute mark. A thin, descending guitar solo opens the piece among the wicked fast drums but it sounds like it's part of a completely different song. Its weirdness appears to be an attempt to evoke supernatural dread; the music doesn't really represent its title to me but I assume that it was written for "Amok" in mind which has both a graveyard with zombies rising from it and is also pretty action-packed.
unused track
"Viscra Maelstrom"

TVRWhoa! This is an interesting, moody piece. The ocean waves are a neat sound effect and I like the dark, muted synths comprising the minimalist melody. The drum beat is really distracting, though. I would cut the first instance of the rhythm out entirely, remove the hand claps, and find something other than the tambourine for the offbeats. Even so, it would make a pretty cool track for evoking an ominous atmosphere. I suspect that it was written for the titlepic in mind since the first wave crash makes for a great crowd puller.
unused track

VisceralThis is a very long composition that's constantly moving toward a climax but never actually gets there, the sort of thing you might find right before the final level. The length is a mismatch, though, considering how short TVR's maps are. It might have worked fairly well with "Exodus". The synth / drum break around 02:45 is nice enough and I like the way that it builds back up from there. The arrangement puts mostly synths and strings at the forefront, giving it a lighter sound. The backwards-effect thing heard at the beginning and at a few transition points is a pretty cool attention getter.
unused track


by Thomas Van Der Velden
The opening platform is made to resemble the revenant heavily featured in the TVRMIDI titlepic; I enjoy that cacodemons staff the rocket launchers / towers. The map itself is perfectly in keeping with Velden's sensibilities. It's got two different catwalk gauntlets over nukage, one of which is inside the cramped indoor area. While it's a small level there are a number of secrets to discover, one of which is kind of obvious and affords you a much-needed combat shotgun. There are two rude surprises waiting at the end. The first is the ambush squad that lurks behind the red key door. The second is a hilarious swipe at the player who stops to admire the REVOLTLOVER lettering on snagging the automap. Never change, Thomas.



  1. Ooh! This is the first time I've seen music reviews on your blog. The analysis is just as in-depth and intriguing to pour through as are the level design reviews. From the descriptions, I get the feeling you've dabbled in composing before. I bet more than me infact haha. Hope to see more music reviews in the future!

    1. Thank you! I have never actually done any sort of composing but I'm very familiar with sheet music (re: played in school bands from 4th grade to partway through first two years of college) and cut my teeth on describing music by writing mini-reviews for Synthwave / Retrowave albums on Bandcamp.