Composer Mick Gordon claims he was slandered and threatened by publisher and studio id Software. We come back to the case.
If you’re a hardcore fan of the DOOM franchise, you might have pre-ordered the collector’s edition of DOOM Eternal from E3 2019, date of its announcement. Among the goodies, there was an angelic lithograph, a life-size helmet, but also game soundtrackcomposed by the inimitable Mick Gordon since the 2016 album. Become cult for its guttural guitars, its musical ultra-violence and its aggressive electronic hues, it is one of the pillars of DOOM’s identity.
Alas, the final albumafter many postponements, was filthy. Mixed with the feet, more than uneven, unworthy of its creator, it caused a real uproar when it was released on April 18, 2020. Marty Strattonexecutive producer, blamed Mick Gordon via a large Reddit post. The extreme metalhead would have been unable to ensure the order. A smear campaign against him followed.
This week, Mick Gordon has finally responded to the criticism and slams id Software, accusing the studio of sullying its reputation to cover up their own incompetence. And he has a bundle of evidence under the arm. Let’s go back to this thrilling soap opera that bears witness to the managerial Far West that is the video game industry.
Who is Mike Gordon?
Impossible to start this story without dwelling on the man of the situation. Australian composer, rocker and producerMick Gordon has carved out a reputation as a titan by chaining classic after classic starting with Killer Instinct in 2013. This was followed by an intimate collaboration with Bethesda and their studios: Wolfenstein (2014), DOOM (2016), Prey (2017)… The musicos had the keys to the house.
Her soundtrack for DOOM (2016)in particular, went down in history with two titles: Rip & Tear and BFG Division. We find there all the sound identity of the reboot. It is a percussive, electronic industrial metal, as heavy as it is exhilarating. Adrenaline intravenously. For DOOM EternalMick Gordon continued his work by injecting religious choirs, accompanying the theological slide of the series towards Paradise and its history.
His work is widely recognized among his colleagues and the community. His work on DOOM 2016 earned him a prestigious DICE Award, while his compositions for Eternal wins the audience award via the Steam Awards. In other words, Mick Gordon is DOOM and vice versa. He became difficult to imagine the daron of the FPS without the creative paw of the Australian.
When suddenly the stampede
So when the album of DOOM Eternal scratches the ears of its listeners in April 2020, the community is left speechless. the mix is poor and the too compressed pieces. The result is an infamous porridge. There are also strange transitions within the tracks themselves, as if several fragments of songs had been stuck together by chance. Very quickly, Mick Gordon disavows the compilationadding to the general confusion.
Marty Stratton gives his version of the facts May 4, 2020 in a pad detailing behind the scenes. According to him, Mick Gordon would have signed, in January 2020, a contract to release an album of at least 12 tracks scheduled for March 20. On February 24, the metalhead would have asked for an additional delay, to refine his pancake and add pieces. iD Software, in their heavenly generosity, would have acceded to these requests.
But on their side, the clock is ticking. An album was promised to buyers of the collector’s edition. If it is not delivered as soon as possible, some consumers could take them to court for false advertising – and win, depending on local laws.
Thus, Stratton would have asked his Lead Audio DesignerChad Mossholder, to work on a parallel version emergency from the game’s music files. A bad idea, in itself: they are compressed and fragmented to meet technical constraints. These excerpts are not intended to be listened to out of game.. They couldn’t come up with anything really good.
A catastrophic result
Finally, Mick Gordon would have delivered 12 tracks in extremis, but too weak for iD Software. Trapped by time, the whole team would have agreed to combine the two versions. On April 18, 2020, the auditory Frankenstein monster is released into the wild. This is a big baby of 59 tracks. The majority are edited by Mossholder, and the dozen songs by Mick Gordon are sprinkled in the tracklist. The critical reception is murderousin view of the technical flourishes that dot the whole.
According to Marty Stratton, all faults attributable to the album are therefore due to Mick Gordon. Not having met its deadlines, having delivered disappointing renderings, it would have forced the hand of iD Software, which found itself in a legal vice.
A version that perplexed the community, although the most toxic fans have harassed the composer the most metal of the JV. Death threats, doxxing, daily insults… In short, his public image was ruined. And the team DOOM got away from it as far as possible.
Mick Gordon breaks the silence
In the absence of a response from the composer, Marty Stratton’s version prevailed. But Mick Gordon hit back with a real court novel, published on Medium on November 9. All of its content is validated by its legal team, making these statements very credible from the outset.
Mick Gordon reveals appalling working conditions from the start of the development of DOOM Eternal. He was required to set levels to music before they were designed. It’s like asking an interior designer to work while the house isn’t built. Despite his warnings, management refused to amend their schedule. The metalhead has therefore suffered almost 2 years of intensive crunch. Occasionally, without salary. He mentions that between January and November 2019, not a single payment arrived in his bank account.
Come then the question of the album DOOM Eternalwhich Mick Gordon learned about at the same time as everyone else, during the E3 2019 conference.
” Pre-orders started immediately. This is very problematic because customers were buying a Collector’s Edition which would necessarily be incomplete. The album was not in production, and I had not been offered a contract to direct it. Moreover, no one had worried about the deadlines, the content, or even its pure and simple feasibility.”
In January 2020, still no news. Sensing the trap closing, he bypasses the managers of iD Software and contact Bethesda as early as January 8. The situation is unblocked… or almost. If the publisher’s lawyers and managers are very interested, the negotiations get bogged down. The final contract is not signed until March 7, 2020. The album should ideally be delivered on April 16, but at this stage, It is not mandatory. Note that this factually contradicts the version of the executive producer, who argued that the papers had been ready since January. It was nothing.
The lies of iD Software
The situation goes from bad to worse when Marty Stratton returns to put his two cents on April 3. Suddenly, April 16 becomes a non-negotiable deadline. And then, the tracks already sent by Mick Gordon do not do the trick. They are too soft, they have to be completely reworked. As saying that it’s impossibleat this stage…
But hey, Chad Mossholder tinkered with his little carnage in a hurry, so he’s saving the furniture, right? Well, not at all. Already because his version is heartbreaking. Then, you should know that each computer file has metadata. This is information about their creator, their weight… or their date of creation. By scrutinizing the album, Mick Gordon discovers that it has been in the works since August 2019. Without telling him about it, iD Software was already assembling a bastardized version of its work. Why ? What purpose ? Maybe because it was cheaper than signing a new contract with an external composer…
A bitter record
This summary onlyscratch the surface of the matter. We advise you to rub shoulders with the whole post, richly documented, which provides many fascinating details – and allows you to better realize the extent of the smoke. What is certain is that Marty Stratton deliberately omitted elements, or even lied about the course of events. From absurd instructions to strange manipulations, Mick Gordon’s work has been put to the test.
Today, he is recovering somehow from the wave of violent harassment he suffered. If no legal proceedings have been initiated on his side, we imagine that it would be possible to obtain damages for defamation and disparagement. Either way, his career is on course. We can find Mick Gordon on the turntables of the Russian FPS Atomic Heartand the musical controls of Routine, a horror game set in 1980s space. After metal, synths and electro? We can’t wait to hear more.
iD Software have not yet wished to react to the revelations of the Australian composer. Only time will tell if they wish to counterattack. The fallout, alas, should be quite weak on their side. But perhaps this misadventure will serve as a warning to aspiring artists…