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OCR04229 - *YES* Half-Life 2 "Into the Cold Light"


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Hi OCRemix judge team,

This is our submission of Into The Cold Light, a Half-Life 2 metal remix.

Contact Information:

Remixer Name: BKM
Real Name: Björn Kirchhoff
UserID: 32752
Remixer Name: TheBitterRoost
UserID: 32609

Submission Information:
Game: Half-Life 2
Remix Name: Into The Cold Light
Arranged Song: Triage At Dawn
Original Composer: Kelly Bailey
Source Link:

This is a downtuned seven-string metal remix of the track 'Triage At Dawn' from the Half-Life 2 OST. This tune plays just as Gordon leaves the haunting, dark location of Ravenholm and re-emerges into the cold light of City 17, where the Combine give him a lead-fueled welcome. It always hit me as a very powerful moment - after the constant tension of Ravenholm, the player get this very brief glimmer of hope and calmness accompanied by the source track to this remix, just to be thrown back into the thick of the civil war in the next second.
I created a first version of this arrangement in 2015 and uploaded it to Youtube, but never sent it to OCRemix because the production quality was sub par. Last year, I decided to redo it completely and was lucky enough to get TheBitterRoost on board to lay down some drums, allowing me to do away with the sampler that I used in the original version. To finish things off, I included Artur Stawski (https://sonicsciencelab.com) for stem mastering.


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  • 1 month later...

Things kick off with a delayed piano playing the main theme. Guitars come in and take over the main theme at 0:36. Rhythm guitar is ok, with some good riffing, and seems to carry the majority of the low end. Things build up until we hit 1:13, where suddenly we get an early guitar solo, with only light piano backing. This portion felt weird in its positioning in the arrangement, with the preceding build-up not really building to it. It also exposed the dryness of the guitars’, making them feel kind of separated from the rest of the mix, which is a shame as the playing here is quite good. Rhythm guitar comes back to help the lead at 1:31 which sounds ok. Conversely, the transition to rapid fire-kicks at 1:39 was muddy and could do with a revisit. There seems to be no dedicated bass instrument to speak of here, just guitar. We get a small breakdown with a filter fade in at 1:53, with a revised version of the main theme afterwards. Some interesting guitar squealing FX at 2:22. We get a repeat of the previous theme iterations to take us out, with some minor differences.

I think the arrangement here is ok, but certainly could’ve been explored further, as we’re mainly getting different renditions of the theme over and over here. The soloing and rhythm riffing mostly make up for this, but it would’ve been great to hear the theme be taken into further original territory. My biggest gripe however is the production — the piano is a bit thin, while the guitars are bass heavy, causing problems when additional instrument layers are added. The guitars are dry and feel like they’re sitting on top of everything instead of integrated into the mix. I think a production pass is needed on this to take out some of this muffle and clean up the heavy layered sections.


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  • Jivemaster changed the title to 2020/05/25 - (1N) Half-Life 2 "Into the Cold Light"

evocative title and backstory.

the delayed keys in the beginning is a nice starter, and the guitar sounds great when it comes in. the drums sound pretty good (snare's really poppy which is not what i expected for this style of guitars, but it's so crisp that it fits really well), but i agree with jive that a bass guitar isn't immediately evident, maybe due to the detuned nature of the guitars? there's a decent amount of bass in the guitar but no sub content specifically, but it sounds pretty good even with that. we get one real clear playthrough of the melodic content before a solo break. the band comes back in full for a bit and we're in a breakdown / build at 1:50, which sounded good, and more full band work at 2:03 or so, featuring some more complex rhythmic content in the background and some guitar extended techniques which were interesting.

around 2:40, after the doubletime kicks, i noticed that my ears were getting pretty tired of hearing the melody played the same over and over, and that we'd not really seen much difference in the melodic presentation in some time. i liked the textural elements that had been included, including more consistent changing of the background rhythms and continued variation of the drum groove, but it was certainly feeling repetitive. there's a break section around 2:57 and one last blow at 3:15 of the melody, and some simple outro keys echoing the beginning. the outro's real short, hardly even worth the name. 

this is an interesting one. i really like post-grunge's focus on pentatonic riffs that are rhythmically complex layered over drums that echo rhythmic content, and this has that style represented in spades. i particularly liked interplay like right at the beginning, at 0:57-0:59. the guitar performance is actually really solid. i didn't mind at all the doubletime sections that jive mentioned as a problem - they sounded about as good as i'd expect for the tempo and velocity, honestly! - and the mostly dry guitars fit that same post-grunge style really well. this kind of performance wouldn't sound out of order if it was by breaking benjamin or three days grace, for example. if anything i'd like to hear a bit more gating on them, and a slightly crisper attack on the more marcato (vs strummed/rhythm guitar) sections, to emphasize the space in between the notes a bit more.

ultimately i don't hear production issues that really hold this back. it's super rhythm guitar driven, and it sounds great because of a great performance there. my main complaint would be the arrangement, mainly in the representation of the melodic content being fairly static for most of the track. this is nowhere near enough to keep this track from passing though, i don't think. really great take here.




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  • prophetik music changed the title to 2020/05/25 - (1Y/1N) Half-Life 2 "Into the Cold Light"

Oof, very blocky mechanical-sounding piano to open things up, then the vox at :10 also sounded pretty fake. Synths at :19 also sounded generic while the brass handling the melodic lead should have cut through more (IMO). Nice energy change at :37 with some intense guitar work, but it's seemingly mixed in without any real highs. The mixing overall is far from ideal; for example, the brief machine gun drumming section (1:40-1:49) and the big finish (3:25-3:34) were just walls of mud, and when it's not like that, the overall sound is powerful but never clean. And of course, let me be clear that the mixing doesn't have to be squeaky clean, just that the intensity of the presentation was actually dulled by the mixing here.

As far as I can tell, the musicianship and power from the live instrumentation is what carried this over the line, while the sampled instrumentation hurts it. The mixing should be sharper, but is serviceable. I'd love to get another production pass at this, but I'm fine approving this as is. Let's go!


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  • Liontamer changed the title to 2020/05/25 - (2Y/1N) Half-Life 2 "Into the Cold Light"

Not much to add here that hasn't already been said. There's some good playing, and going for a metal style here really works for the source. Drums really fit well into the track, and they do a lot to accentuate the melody throughout. Nice solo at 1:19 as well.

The piano is definitely a bit of a detractor, being as blocky as it is. The overall production is definitely also suffering a bit, lots of mud, especially when things get busy. Definitely something to work on in the future. I also wasn't feeling the squealy stuff going on near the end. It's hard panned, and to me just was a distraction overall. Maybe bringing it back in the mix and centering it a touch more might have helped.

Overall this is a close one to me, and I could see it going either way. I think the genre adaption and playing does squeak it over the bar, though.

YES (borderline)

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  • DragonAvenger changed the title to 2020/05/25 - (3Y/1N) Half-Life 2 "Into the Cold Light"

This arrangement is another example of the source material having so little to work with and yet getting plenty of mileage.  It's also all about the textural variations - it starts with referencing the same piano and brass writing as the source, then going straight into metal-city from 0:37 onwards.  From that point, I can flick anywhere in the track and recognize melody use on the guitar, melody in the background during a guitar solo or the chord progression - dominant yet the varied rhythm guitar and drum writing helps keep everything fresh.

There are two little nitpicks I have in this one, though.  Firstly, part of the guitar solo at 1:22 had details strayed away from the established chord progression.  Those lead arpeggios went through F and G chords as the backing went with G and D.  Technically, they're all in key, but the notation isn't very complimentary - and luckily enough, the problem only lasts for a fleeting moment, so it's no dealbreaker.  I also would've liked another break in the track like you did at 1:48 so the second half doesn't drag on energy-wise, but the textural changeups help mitigate any impact, so it also feels fine as it is.

I did have to go back and forth over the production values, though.  The best part of this mixdown is easily the recording quality and tight performances between both yourself and TBR - they've all been mixed to a tee with such raw power and are so well synergized with each other that it's worth the price of admission.  TBR also did well with opting for some poppier snare and tom tones, though, especially to poke through the low-end emphasis.  Said skewing could get attributed to the down-tuned guitars - but I'm able to identify all the parts in the mix, so it all checks out for me.  

I agree with Larry regarding the opening 30 seconds and rigid sequencing, leaving a rough first impression.  The piano's delay and reverb on the brass helped add some life, but that stiffness remains.  They're only super prominent for that initial stretch and the ending, so it's not too bad - but it's worth experimenting with articulations, humanizations, and layers in the future.  The sudden cut-off at the end of the track would need to get fixed before posting, but I'm sure either you or any of us staff can sort it out.

It's a track with a few small flaws, especially regarding pacing and synth programming - but the pros easily outweigh the cons.  The source went through plenty of textural shifts, your performance and recording quality are top-notch, and there had been some careful decisions in the mixdown to find frequencies that complement each other.  It all adds up to a great OCR package, and I hope the feedback in the overall thread will help you out on future projects!


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  • Rexy changed the title to 2020/05/25 - *YES - TAG* Half-Life 2 "Into the Cold Light"
  • Liontamer changed the title to OCR04229 - *YES* Half-Life 2 "Into the Cold Light"
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