Death by Cube is a bloody shooter recently released by Square Enix for Xbox Live Arcade. Tokyo DJ Mud-J and The Black Mages' Tsuyoshi Sekito offered an eight track techno and rock score for the title. The resultant music convincingly supports the gameplay and enhances the atmosphere of the title. Square Enix's iTunes soundtrack release for the title also proves surprisingly good for stand-alone listening.
The opening theme instantly establishes the tone of the soundtrack. There are three dominant forces — an arpeggiated piano riff, industrial drum beats, and a steel-stringed guitar — that collectively create a soft yet tense tone. As the composition develops, the guitar work grows more elaborate and a solo violin adds some radiance, while the rhythms remain as mesmerising yet gritty. Ultimately, Mud-J transforms what could have been a very generic composition into one filled with emotion and individuality. "Space Rider" meanwhile provides a pleasing variation on the upbeat techno themes with its pulsating beats and ecstatic electric guitar work. It has the catchy melodies and compelling rhythms to hook listeners, yet also keeps them entertained with the extensive development.
As the soundtrack proceeds, there are several more hard-edged compositions. In spite of its 80s pop influences, "Binary Dig It" is a pretty hostile composition overall with thrashing rhythm guitar riffs, abstract electronic thrills, and resolute beats. "Destroy Now", on the other hand, is close to hard rock with its wild guitar solos and aggressive drum beats. Still, sections such as from 0:47 still keep the music gliding and entertaining. That said, "Battle of Memory World" is by far the most action-packed piece on the soundtrack, combining aspects of heavy metal and hard techno into an ever-intensifying storm. It's spectacular during the special battle and is also a highly entertaining stand-alone listen.
Moving on to Tsuyoshi Sekito's contributions, "Spiral G!" is rather similar to what listeners have come to expect from his battle themes on the likes of The Last Remnant. Once again, it combines wild electric guitar work with brassy orchestral elements and ferocious drum beats. Nevertheless, it is exceptional in quality and, thanks to the forcful drive and extravagant solos, probably his finest rock composition to date. "Dance to Survive" meanwhile is a rare experiment in the field of anthemic trance that proves both beautifully soundscaped and very catchy. The section from 0:57 is especially enjoyable. Though both are great compositions, they are not properly faded out like other pieces on the soundtrack and instead just abruptly cut, causing the soundtrack to become quite abrupt in places.
Mud-J finishes the soundtrack on a reflective note with "End of Water". As with the opening theme, he establishes quite a mesmerising groove for the theme, this time using uplifting beats, reverberating strings, and a piano bass. At the 0:55 mark, he dares to introduce a rap element to the theme. Rather than use rap performers like the exceptional soundtrack to MadWorld did, he relies on voice sample libraries. The resultant lyrics are very lame with lines such as 'up and down, all around, everybody go dance' or endless 'yeah's. In addition, the rapper doesn't bring any desirable emotion or attitude to the theme, so sounds exceptionally tame. Though the fusion could have worked and the instrumentals are very pleasant, this track really suffers from implementation problems and a low budget.
Clearly, the Death by Cube Original Soundtrack makes up for its lack of compositions with its high quality. Aside the dubious ending theme, all the items on the soundtrack offer plenty of atmosphere, energy, development, and creativity. "Spiral G!" is particularly a must-have for Sekito's fans. Due to its digital distribution, it can be downloaded for a relatively low price and most fans of electronic and rock music should find it highly enjoyable.