Ryan Karazija, the mastermind behind the band Low Roar and the musician responsible for most of Death Stranding’s extraordinary soundscape, has died at the age of 40. The news was announced on the group’s Instagram pagewith a post that reads:
“Ryan Karazija, frontman and driving force behind Low Roar, has died at the age of 40.
“His beautiful music and lyrics, sung in his haunting voice touched the lives of so many people all over the world, and will continue to do so. He was a kind and beautiful soul and our worlds are shattered by his loss.
“Let us honor his memory with his art and keep him forever in his songs.”
Karazija spent the earlier part of his life and career in California, fronting the band Audrye Sessions from 2002 to 2010, before moving to Iceland and Reykjavik, where he started Low Roar. Initially a solo project, the band’s eponymous debut was released in 2011, and it has now released five albums, with a sixth to be released posthumously.
Low Roar did not enjoy huge commercial success, but video game designer Hideo Kojima came across the band’s music in a Reykjavik record store. Kojima recognized that those catchy, sometimes discordant, and unusually constructed songs captured something of the essence of the mood of Death Stranding: the loneliness, the struggle to survive with integrity, the cry against the world we all indulge in.
Kojima reacted to the news on social networks saying that, without Karazija’s contribution, “Death Stranding would not have been born.”
I heard the news. I can’t believe it. I don’t want to believe it. Without Ryan, without you and your music, Death Stranding would not have been born. Your music will live forever in this world and in me. thank you Rest in peace. Low Roar Ryan Karazija (1982-2022) pic.twitter.com/buzBwtBHvrOctober 29, 2022
“Ryan’s songs are sensual and the sounds he creates are unique,” Kojima told Rolling Stone in 2016. “His goal is not to make money; he’s about the art and shows a very original taste even in things like his album covers.”
Death Stranding is a game of moments. Long stretches of solitude that, eventually, are broken by some sight in the distance, some sense of achievement in their grasp. Almost without exception these moments are soundtracked by Low Roar, which provides 18 of 22 songs on the soundtrack, as much as they seem emblematic of Sam’s inner life. Few games use music tracks like this, or create such an impact with them.
Funnily enough, Death Stranding was such a quiet project that, when Kojima had Sony approach Low Roar about using the band’s music, Sony wouldn’t tell the band what it wanted the track for.
“Sony contacted us in a vague email offering us a certain amount of money to use the song ‘I’ll Keep Coming,’ and they didn’t want to tell us what they were going to use the song for,” Karazija told VG247. in 2020. “At the time we were in the gutter so we accepted it. And it turned out it was for Death Stranding.”
The use of Low Roar’s music in Death Stranding saw the band find a significant new audience and go on tour.
A later update from the group said Karazija died after complications from pneumonia. Low Roar’s statement ends by saying that work on the sixth album is already underway and it “will be completed and released when it is ready. Please respect his family’s privacy at this incredibly difficult time.”