Trent Reznor Reveals That He Has Composed The Theme For Video Game ‘Call Of Duty: Black Ops II’


Attention Nine In Nails/Trent Reznor fans, I’ve got a great update from the man himself to pass along that promises NEW music to come. Speaking to USA Today, Reznor revealed that he has composed an “aggressive” new theme song for the video game Call Of Duty: Black Ops II. Additionally, TR updates us on the status of his musical project How To Destroy Angels (the album is finished) and Nine Inch Nails (new music is “gestating”). Click below to read all these new deets from Trent Reznor himself.

The next soundtrack project for Trent Reznor, who most recently scored The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with Atticus Ross, is not for a film, but for the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Reznor has composed the game’s theme song, an “aggressively sounding” piece of guitar, bass and drums-based rock. Well-known video game composer and Video Games Live co-producer Jack Wall (Mass Effect 2) composed the rest of the music for the game … His teaming with the game’s development studio Treyarch is a suitable one as the Nine Inch Nails front man is a fan of the Call of Duty franchise and 2010’s Black Ops. “I have always looked to that franchise as the cutting edge of what seemingly unlimited budgets and full-on not cutting any corners can do in the current day and age,” he says … Reznor recently talked with Game Hunters about Black Ops II, video games and his upcoming music projects.

How’d you get connected with Treyarch on ‘Black Ops II’?
I’m not exactly sure. I started dipping my toe into film scoring. That led me to film-scoring agents and whatnot, and a variety of projects start to get thrown at you to check your level of interest. And quite a while ago I had heard, ‘Would you be interested in a big franchise video game?’ Being an avid gamer my whole life, I said, ‘Yeah, I would be interested in that.’ Coming off of doing two films in a row, I wasn’t looking to really dive into a super big project, so the idea of scoring the theme song for this came up and it sounded interesting to me so I pursued it.

How is doing music for a game similar or different from composing film soundtracks?
Here’s a similarity. When David Fincher called me up a few years ago and said, ‘Hey, I’d like you to score this film The Social Network.’ I said, ‘I’m flattered but I really don’t have any real experience scoring films and I’d rather not screw it up on a high-profile project. And I like you and I don’t want to compromise our friendship.’ He talked me into it, which I’m glad he did. My strategy going into that was the one I used since then on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and certainly on Call of Duty, which was really to sit and listen and realize that my role in this is a supporting role. He had lived with project, and I’m talking about The Social Network right now, and thought about it a lot more than I have. Let me try to find out exactly what it is he is wanting and why he reached out to me. I found that strategy, although it may seem obvious, really worked.

How did you arrive at a sound?
When I sat down with these guys. I kind of wanted to extract ‘If you are looking for a big orchestral, Hollywood-y feeling, traditional-type patriotic score, I can do something like that, but I’m not excited about doing it,and it’s not my strength. There’s a lot of other people who can do that better than I can. I was intrigued by the idea that they were willing to get out of the zone with something a little bit different. What I did was present them with the concept of ‘Let’s have it arranged semi-orchestrally, but let’s have the voice be an instrument. Let’s veer it more toward guitar, bass, drum rock band aggression. And I don’t mean in a corny rock-and-roll way, but let’s have a more modern foundation in terms of how it sounds. But let’s have the way the voices are arranged mimic an orchestral range.’ If that makes sense. The first thing I sent back to them was what really wound up being the foundation of the core of the end result.

What game systems do you have, and what other recent games have you enjoyed?
Pretty much all systems are here in the house, in some room of the house, the studio or otherwise. I’ve spent some time with Diablo III. I’m pretty blown away by the scale of Skyrim. I thought Heavy Rain was engrossing. I just bought a piece of obscure musical gear from that company (Quantic Dream) over there. My wife and I spent quite a few evenings kind of scared making our way through that game. That achieved its mark and really felt like an accomplishment in terms of expanding what games can be.

Can you update us on the How To Destroy Angels album (the band includes Reznor’s wife Mariqueen Maandiq and Tattoo and Social Network soundtrack co-composer Atticus Ross)?
We have a finished album. It’s been finished for a little while. We’re doing a little bit of tweaks on it. The record will be out soon. We are doing a different type of distribution this time so it’s taking a little bit longer to coordinate stuff. There’s a lot of music about to be unleashed, videos, etcetera. I’m working on some new Nine Inch Nails stuff.

Did you say also working on new Nine Inch Nails music? That’s good to hear.
Dot dot dot. Hopefully, it will be good to hear. Right now, it’s in its gestation period.

This is very exciting news. I knew that Reznor was working on something, I’m happy to learn that not only is he working on new music (NIN!!!!!!!) but that he’s been doing some video game work as well. I remember when TR scored for the game Quake back in the mid-90’s … it was such a thrill to have the NIN stamp on that game. I’m not a big gamer but if anything is going to get me to check out Call of Duty: Black Ops II, it’s the fact that Trent Reznor is involved in the game’s music. I understand the HTDA album should be out sometime this year (we’ll see) and hopefully we’ll be hearing some new NIN in the coming year. AMAZING news all around, this is all very exciting.


  • Melanie

    This is seriously the best thing I’ve heard all day! Really looking forward to all the new TR related projects/albums! Been a fan since the 80’s and Trent never disappoints. So much love and respect for his creativity. :)

  • Jenifer

    We’ve been hearing that the HTDA is almost done or done for a while – so exciting to hear that it’s closer to relase. But I want to hear that it’s released!

    Just nice that he’s still creating and we’ll have new music from him and team!

  • Kevin Oliver

    Wow I can’t wait to hear HTDA full album, and I’m also very excited about new NIN material. Basically anything composed by TR will make me indescribably happy!!:):)

  • Kevin Oliver

    Wow I can’t wait to hear HTDA full album, and I’m also very excited about new NIN material. Basically anything composed by TR will make me indescribably happy. I have been a NIN fan since 1994 when I first heard TDS I was in awe of sound that was blasting out of my cd player, I had never heard anything even remotely like it and I was hooked. Thank you Trent Reznor you changed my life forever you are a genius with so much talent it can’t be measured!!