Grand Thrash Auto: Willow Ryan (Body Void/Hellish Form)

Welcome to the first in a new series called Grand Thrash Auto, where we have some of our favourite metal musicians discuss their five favourite games!

In a thriving doom scene absolutely packed with killer bands, Bay Area outfit Body Void manage to stand out as one of the most ferocious bands in the genre, the sheer oppressive weight of their corrosive sludge beginning to rot your ear canals the instant that first riff kicks in. And somehow, new single ‘Wound’ – a nearly thirteen-minute long monolith – suggests that they’re only going to get heavier on upcoming album Bury Me Beneath This Rotting Earth. Key to this are the guitar, bass and vocal contributions of the band’s Willow Ryan, whose proclivity for doom can also be heard on their other project, Hellish Form – a band who, whilst still based in the realm of sludge metal, are more reliant on noise, drone and funeral doom as touchstones.

Off the back of this new single, we’re delighted to have Ryan be the first to feature in this series exploring our favourite metal artists’ top games. Here, they talk about everything from sci-fi epics and Hideo Kojima to skating games and the flawed but loveable Life Is Strange.

Mass Effect Trilogy

Mass Effect 2 is my favourite of the series and maybe my favourite game of all time, but the entire trilogy had a profound impact on me. I even love the third one, ending and all. The first Mass Effect felt like a modernisation of the BioWare formula introduced with Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic and the first time an RPG where the player’s choices drive the story were comparable to film and TV production values. It’s hard to convey just how much of a revelation the first game’s execution of characters, story, and worldbuilding were at the time. I will never forget you, Liara, my blue lesbian space wife.”

Life Is Strange

“Another game where the story changes based on your character’s decisions. There was a time in the early to mid 2010s when it felt like these kinds of dialogue tree-heavy adventure games that focused on navigating social interactions over gameplay were coming out every week. Life Is Strange is supremely flawed at times, but it has some of the biggest, gayest feelings in any video game anywhere and for that I love it to pieces. It’s also the first time a game’s multiple endings seemed to coexist rather than cancel each other out depending on which one you chose.”

Half-Life 2

“Sometimes you just want to escape into a fully realised, really fucked-up world that wants to kill you. Half Life 2 was lauded for the way it advanced physics in video games, but for me it was the full bodied feeling of traversing an entirely alien world that drew me in and has since stuck with me. Even the game’s sound design had a haunting, singular quality that’s still burned into my brain. “Immersion” is a term that’s overused to the point of cliche, but that was really this game’s magic to me. It came out at a time in the late ‘00s when almost all media was chasing that feeling. Movies like Children Of Men and Cloverfield both wanted that sense of being a participant rather than a mere observer. That’s literally what video games are, of course, but it had never felt quite as true before Half-Life 2.”

Skate 2

“I, like a lot of people my age, grew up on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, but I had a lot of IRL skater friends and while I never skated myself I LOVED watching skate videos. Tony Hawk was fun as hell, but I wanted something that gave me a more realistic experience. Something that captured the creativity of street skating rather than its potential video gameyness. Something that made landing a kickflip over a set of stairs feel just as monumental as landing a million point combo in THPS. EA’s Skate answered my prayers and 2 was the series’ best entry. My only hope now is that Skate 4 finally gets made.”

Metal Gear Solid 2

“No one’s indulgent, borderline nonsensical bullshit frustrates and excites me in equal measure quite like Hideo Kojima’s. Honestly, I think it was around the time the quiet “she’s naked because she breathes through her skin” bs from MGS5 that I finally had to let go. But before that we had a trilogy of games bursting with equal parts provoking sci-fi ideas, US military fetishism and anime batshittery. It was a potent, undeniable cocktail. MGS4 wasn’t bad either even if it goes a bridge too far for me in crawling up its own ass (which is saying something for a series that lives up its own ass). 2 will forever be my favorite for the way it overtly fucks with the first game’s narrative structure and somehow stays on the rails while going straight off the deep end. Through all its babble about ghosts living in the White House walls or something it somehow reached some deeper, cogent and downright prophetic conclusions for 2002 about the direction the world was heading re: internet disinformation. Also watching Raiden slip on bird shit over and over was pretty funny.”

Bury Me Beneath This Rotting Earth drops 23rd April via Prosthetic Records and Tridroid Records. Order now.

Intro: George Parr

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