Chuck Ragan recently created a soundtrack for a video game. Yeah,I thought it was weird too. I’ve been thinking about video games a lot lately. I was reading an article about the official end of Xbox 360 (the current console I have) and I’m wondering if this is the end for me. I’ve never been a gamer. Even when I still play it’s mostly football or baseball games that I’ve been too cheap cheap to spring for the new version of and then spent so much time updating the rosters manually that I need to play them exclusively to justify the time that I spent modifying them. Truthfully, I was never any good out most video games after Mario. And while I had a dickload of fun accidentally blowing myself up in Golden Eye on N64, I could never keep up with Call of Duty and the like. Plus, video games used to be an event to stay up all night with your closest friends playing multi-player, eating doritos, and drinking Mountain Dew. Now it’s sharing those same snacks and refreshments with strangers armed with headphones and weird internet troll slang. I didn’t get it when I was younger and I don’t feel bad about not getting it now that I’m old.
So, again, why the fuck was Chuck Ragan creating a video game soundtrack? And would this be worth listening to for someone who will never play the accompanying game or possibly any game ever again? Thankfully for me, The Flame in the Flood is pretty much just a new Chuck album. There are two (beautiful) instrumental tracks that I don’t think we would hear if it was a straight solo album, but aside from that it’s the same punk-country/americana/troubadour shit that is expected. Not that it’s shit per say, but it would fit pretty well with Ragan other four solo albums. At times, say the ending of “Loup Garou” or the majority of “Spanish Moss”, it does get a bit whimsical, but that not bad really, there is some pretty enjoyable string playing and maybe some harp? Maybe some fairies playing lutes? What the hell is a lute? I don’t know, but I feel like that’s video game music ever since Playstation came out.
In case I’m scaring you off, it’s not all background music and lullabies. Songs like “Landsick” are had charging uptempo rockers where Ragan has shined in the past and still include badass fiddling (yes) and his gruffier than gruff voice. The vocals on “Long Water” are too strained but there’s usually at least one song on every album like that so who gives a shit. Being only ten songs, 2 of them instrumental, does feel like we’re being a little shortchanged, but there are multiple solid and familiar sounding songs to check out for longtime fans like “River and Dale” and the title track “The Flame in the Flood”. And if you’re like me and had no idea this was even released a couple months ago then you should have no complaints. Think of it as a bonus Chuck Ragan album and you shouldn’t be too disappointed.