Doom’s E1M1 – otherwise known as ‘At Doom’s Gate’ – is the best piece of music in all of action games. It just is. It’s perfectly placed, its tone is spot-on, and although initially born by an unashamed piece of ‘inspiration’ from the work of an established metal band – as is much of the rest of the original Doom’s soundtrack – it immediately takes on a life and identity of its own by way of context, purpose, texture, and a whole lot of happy accidents along the way. And it’s just plain better. Doom is better than Metallica. Fact.

The reasons that E1M1 is so brilliant are many. For literal starters, there’s the fact that it’s the very first tune in the very first level of the very first Doom. You start the game, the Hangar level loads in, and that opening riff rolls out. And it immediately just works. That clipped, tumbling salvo is a perfectly charged set of noises, the sustained hit at the end of every phrase giving it a sense of ascending energy that you just can’t not go along with. But crucially, there’s a cheeky playfulness to it as well.

“C’mon”, it says. “Don’t be scared. Let’s get out there and wreck some shit. This is going to be great”. And so you listen to E1M1’s assurance, and you go along with it, and it is great. There’s no better start for an intense, horrific, fast, bloody action game, especially one built around the player’s ability to survive by charging in and taking control on the offensive. It subverts intimidation and nervous early energy by grabbing hold of it, harnessing it, and turning it into giddy, exhilarating enthusiasm.

So you don’t hold back. You immediately run out there, and you do wreck shit, and you do have a great time, and you carry on. You Doom, and you keep on Dooming. And it’s all thanks to E1M1 giving you a high-five at the start, dragging you into the party, and pushing you out onto the dancefloor before you’ve even had time to consider getting self-conscious.

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