We asked H-Pi a few questions to find out more about his work composing the soundtrack to Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood. Let’s Rock!
Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood depicts an extremely dark universe. What were your first musical goals and how did you decided to approach this new universe?
When I met the team, the overarching idea was to depict a pre-apocalyptic universe situated in the relatively near future. We had to avoid falling into the trap of being too futuristic, or too fantastical. We wanted to do something that was modern, but with the underlying feeling that there’s something rotten at the core. We decided to split the style of the OST in to 3 main parts. There are tracks with tribal and mystical influences, which symbolize the strong connection with nature and Gaia. Then there are more electronic tracks, for the infiltration phases, interactions with the human world, in the Endron facilities. And finally, there are some fairly up-tempo metal tracks (hardcore, neo, deathcore, etc.) to highlight the joyful glee of succumbing to the rage of the Crinos form. The entire soundtrack is sprinkled with influences from mutant and superhero movies.
I also wanted to add something original to each of these worlds. As I played, I messed around with some of the instruments myself for the tribal part (low D whistle, didgeridoo, dulcimer, etc.). I mainly used a hardware synth from a small French company called “Audiothingies” for the electro section. For the metal tracks, I wanted something along the lines of Alien Weaponry (to tie in with the title screen). The guitars are recorded without any amp simulators or IR. It’s totally raw and wild! There were just 2 microphones set in front of a tube amp, which passed the sound along into analog preamps. It’s a pretty esoteric way to keep the sound organic, but it’s a great match to the universe of the game!
The soundtrack features a metal style that’s one of your favorite genres. How did you incorporate this musical style into the game’s universe? Are there different layers of sound depending on the character being played (human, wolf, werewolf)?
Oh yes, I love metal. I’ve played live with a number of bands, but rarely for video games. Here, I knew we’d be using AW for the title screen, and I also knew that a big part of the team liked the style. So I knew I could really go for it. With the prototype, we saw that it worked great for the fight scenes. With riffs that are catchy and positive. The idea is to be a werewolf who tears it up in the mosh pit at Wacken or Hellfest. For the bosses, I developed a type of metal that was more prog/symphonic, even tribal or industrial, to match the narrative aspect and make it more epic. We use small integration subtleties at times (breaks/outro during executions). Then, for the infiltration phases, there’s no metal, just electro with saturated guitars, to create a transition. And that’s different depending on the location and the danger.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood est tiré d’un jeu de rôle prenant place dans l’univers World of Darkness. Est-ce un monde avec lequel tu étais déjà familier ? Comment cela a-t-il influencé ta composition ?
I’d hate to disappoint the fans, but I didn’t know anything about the WoD universe when I started, but fell in love with it after I was presented with the game’s universe and storyline. I read it through a bunch of times to get a good grasp of the universe of each character and each faction and I trusted the team to point me in the right direction if I was wrong. So I think the fans will be happy with it. I also see a sort of tie-in with the Styx universe for the Goth/Punk aspect, so it’s a familiar style. I love the story’s fantastic and dystopic side. And switching between being totally chill and totally violent!
You’ve worked on many video game projects (Styx 1 & 2, Trackmania, Streets of Rage 4). What was your approach to this project compared with your previous compositions?
It’s similar to Styx in a way, because there’s also a lot of infiltration, so there are the same triggering systems, the same level of intensity, with some calm tracks and others that suggest more stress. And also because Gery Montet is still in charge of Sound Design and because of the integration of the music in Wwise. What was different is that I didn’t record an orchestra or soloists, but I played as many live instruments as I could. With technology, you can work miracles. Basically, it’s a very personal soundtrack.
As for process, I started by doing the track “Silver Bullets” and “The Forest Caern”. The melodies came naturally. So I was able to use them in the other tracks to give the game a leitmotif. I like to compose like that.
What were your references and influences in composing the music for this game?
I listened to a lot of music before working on the project. I listened to Alien Weaponry on repeat, so I’d really be in the groove for the metal part. Other than that, I studied riffs from Slipknot, Korn, Machine Head, SoulFly, Hatebreed (Destroy Everything !!!!) for a joyful/destructive metal feel! Also some Infant Annihilator for the drum breaks. And of course, SOAD, Rammstein, Gojira, Dagoba. And even Ultra Vomit because they’ve got a killer sound! For the other universes, I drew inspiration from a lot of sources, I hope without having accidentally committed cryptomnesia: the soundtracks to Wolverine, Thor, The Dark Knight, Game of Thrones, LOTR, and soundtracks to games like SOMA, Detroit: Become Human, Far Cry Primal, by LORN (on the Furi soundtrack) and even tribal/zen/Celtic compilations on YouTube. After all that, YouTube’s algorithm started giving me really crazy recommendations!
Orchestral, Rock, Casual/Fun, Electro… You’ve used many different instruments and many styles in your compositions. Why do you play with so many musical genres?
Music is a language and a means of conveying emotion. The instrument/style is just a way to do this, or to add more nuance. Having said that, there’s a definitely an underlying central theme to my style, which is the groove and the melody. And I’m enjoying working on sound textures as well more and more.
But every musical style is are connected anyway, like the Wyrm, the Weaver, and the Wyld (laughs). For example, metal and jazz are styles that styles that emerged from the Detroit blues style, which in its turn comes partly from Africa, mixed with classical European music. Everything is blended. Everything is connected.
The soundtrack also contains two tracks from the New Zealand band Alien Weaponry. Did you work with them and did their style inspire you?
Yes, I met them briefly at a concert in France, back when we could still work up a sweat and pogo without a mask. I was able to confirm with their sound engineer/manager/father, that I had used the right setup to imitate their sound. That was namely a JCM800 super lead-style Marshall head, specifically a DSL 20, direct, without overdrive or toneshaper. We also went out for a quick drink after the concert. I’m not sure if they remember it, but it was very fun! The other trick I used to imitate their sound is to use a Neve1073-style preamp, and 1176-style compressors.
Finally, do you have any fun stories you can share about this soundtrack?
Yes! I invented an instrument, the “didgeriflute” or the “low-D-didgeridoo”, which consists of putting a low-D whistle (Irish flute) in a didgeridoo (laughs). I use it on the track Onawa & Pach’ua. Otherwise, some tracks, in particular “A Song of Claws and Poison” (the fight against the Red Talons) were recorded by the light of a full moon… A-woooooooooo!!!!
The original soundtrack to Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood is available for pre-order now on Bandcamp: https://werewolftheapocalypse.bandcamp.com/