There’s more than a bit of metal in Doom Eternal. The rhythmic bass blasts of super-shotguns, tinny chaingun power solos, verses punctuated by gory breaks and technical fingerwork. It’s only natural that Doom’s soundtrack contains a little bit of hell in kind. But beyond all the blood and bass and demonic incantations, audiophiles have found Doom 2’s cover art embedded in the very roots of Mick Gordon’s heavy metal soundtrack.
Doom Eternal isn’t a literal retreading of Id Software’s 1994 sequel. But from hell on Earth to colossal demonic goat-boss The Icon of Sin, it’s fair to call it a strong homage to Doom 2. As pointed out by RPS fanzine PC Gamer, the folks over on the Doom Subreddit found that Eternal’s nostalgia runs deeper still. Crushed by compression and colour limitations lurks Doom 2’s cover art, hidden inside the track “Welcome Home Great Slayer”.
It might even be a more affecting rendition of that metal-as-hell image, an off-colour reflection summoned into your eardrums by unknowable (for me, at least) audio techno-wizardry. The image can be viewed through audio analysis software like Sonic Visualiser, tools that let you dig deep into audio files like a cultist uncovering arcane musical secrets.
It’s hardly the first time Gordon’s hidden satanic works in his music – Doom 2016‘s soundtrack was full of these, hiding pentagrams and beastly numbers and that Doom 2 sprite of John Romero’s impaled, severed head. It’s also a fairly common trick for ARGs, as Valve demonstrated back in 2010 by hiding musical ASCII art in the run-up to Portal 2.
But while Gordon might’ve snuck in enough demonic imagery to induce a good ol’ 90s moral panic, the composer apparently didn’t quite have complete control over his music. Doom Eternal’s Original Soundtrack Album released last week with some questionable mastering – with Gordon stressing that he had very little hand in the album’s final state and that he felt just as confused and concerned over the audio mixing.
“I take a lot of pride in my work,” said Gordon. “It’s all I do, it’s all I have and I pour my heart and soul into it.” Heart, soul and – as it happens – demons.