For years I tried to convince people that this album existed. I don’t remember where I first heard it…was it a friend’s house? The hobby shop? Blockbuster? All I remember is there were hard techno beats and songs about each of the characters. And screaming, lots and lots of screaming. It wasn’t the movie soundtrack, though the infamous Mortal Kombat theme song was on it.
A while back I went to a gamer bar, targeted at people very specifically like me: boys (and it was mostly boys) who grew up in the 90s, whose treasured memories included afternoons at the arcade, which was where the “real gamers” hung out. Console gaming was cool, but it wasn’t like the arcade, which had better hardware, better controls, and of course the satisfaction of landing your name on full display in the Hall of Fame. I mean yeah it was fun, but you didn’t play for the fun, you played because it was a competition. Anyway, all these people are in their thirties now, but throw in a few beers and people regress a bit. As it turns out they had an MK2 machine and for one night I was 10 years old again. I wasted my friend (who couldn’t remember any of the controls) and made it all the way to Raiden, who promptly kicked my ass.
Of course it got me thinking about this album again. Luckily we live in an era where you can figure out things like this after five seconds on Google. The album did exist, it was by a fictional group called The Immortals and it came out after the first game. As it turns out the Immortals were just the Lords of Acid under a different name. Now if you’re a real 90’s kid, you know who the Lords of Acid are, or at least tried to steal their CD once. You probably know which one I’m talking about. So rest assured there are real professionals on board…quite frankly I think LoA were the only choice, especially considering that the lead guy’s stage name is Praga Khan, which sounds like a rejected MK character.
Often when you rediscover one of your “holy grails” from childhood it winds a disappointment. Not so with this. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a particularly great album, even by the standards of “90’s stadium house”. But the thing I remembered about this was that it captured the deliberate over-the-top insanity that the game was known for. Let us not forget that this was the first video game that allowed us to pummel 20 gallons of blood out of our opponent’s faces before decapitating them with an uppercut.
Luckily, the album was even more ridiculous than I remembered. In the first thirty seconds Khan rhymes “Mortal Kombat’s on the way!” with “JOHNNY CAGE IS NOT AFRAID TO DIE!!”, and at that point it’s crystal clear exactly what sort of album this is. Every track is hi-NRG stadium house, full of insane voiceovers and sound effects from the game. Nearly every track is just a short bio and a list of some of their special moves. If you haven’t heard it, this is every bit as hilarious as you’re imagining. Some particular high points: “FIRE BALL!!! FLYING KICK!!!” on Liu Kang, “Why do you wear the mask!??” on Sub Zero, and whatever the hell going on with those backing vocals on Scorpion.
Song for song it’s not bad, though practically every track is the same, sometimes suspiciously so – the Johnny Cage and Raiden tracks are nearly identical in spots, and there are two mixes of the main MK theme. Best tune has got to be the Sub Zero one, though “Scorpion: Lost Soul, Bent on Revenge” is the one I want to play most often, mostly because I can never get through it with a straight face. Some of it is forgettable – the Sonya one sounds like it’s pulled straight from an aerobics class, and I never can remember anything about the Goro or Kano tracks except for the fact that the Kano one has some uh…pretty interesting lyrics. I mean, at the end of the day, what can you say, it’s 37 minutes long, and if you’ve ever dug a Lords of Acid album, you’ll definitely like this too. Regardless of what you think of the music, they were clearly the right men for the job. That gamer bar shut down a couple years ago, making it a lot harder to find an old MK2 cabinet. But I’ll always have this, which is the next-best thing.