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The Old Gods of Asgard are The Game Awards’ best musical guest yet

Poets of the Fall assumed its altar ego and paid homage to 2023’s best moment in video games

Same Lake, David Harewood, and the Old Gods of Asgard (Poets of the Fall) perform “ Herald of Darkness at The Game Awards 2023 Image: The Game Awards via Polygon
Mike Mahardy leads game criticism and curation at Polygon as senior editor, reviews. He has been covering entertainment professionally for more than 10 years.

If Alan Wake 2 didn’t completely melt your face, Poets of the Fall are back to finish the job.

The Finnish metal band took the stage at The Game Awards 2023 as The Old Gods of Asgard, the band’s alter-ego from the Remedy Entertainment Connected Universe. They were joined by Ilkko Vasilia (Alan Wake), Matthew Porretta (the voice of Alan Wake), David Harewood (Mr. Door), and, of course, Sam Lake (Sam Lake). And with all due to respect to Halsey, Sting, and Imagine Dragons, this lineup made every musical guest from previous years look like babies.

In a direct homage to the Alan Wake 2 sequence “We Sing,” the greatest 15-minute stretch in any 2023 video game (swap “2023” for any year, and it still works), the OGOA and the cast performed “Herald of Darkness,” a metal ballad that simultaneously recounts the plot for the first Alan Wake and makes demons everywhere shit their pants. Marko Saaresto belted his lyrics past the bounds of space and time; Olli Tukiainen’s fingers moved up and down his guitar neck like the gust of 1,000 Nordic winds; Jari Salminen didn’t so much play the drums as channel the rhythmic war dance of some nameless mythical champion. The only thing missing was Ilkka Villi firing flares at the ceiling as David Harewood schooled the audience in the intricacies of true choreographic art.

The performance wasn’t just an homage to Alan Wake 2, Polygon’s third favorite game of 2023, though. Poets also wrote and performed “Take Control,” the song that plays during Control’s virtuoso Ashtray Maze sequence. In the first Alan Wake, the group appears as the OGOA during the concert defense mission in Episode 4. Going back even further, Saaresto was involved with Remedy since 2001, when he turned a poem into the closing credits song for Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne.

Tonight’s show just served as a reminder of how unafraid Remedy Entertainment is to get weird with its games, even as its budgets increase and projects multiply. I’m still waiting for that collab with The Fall of the House of Usher director Mike Flanagan — but in the meantime, I’ll take all the OGOA I can get.

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