Game Music, Reviews

Another Blizzard Soundtrack You’ll Never Own: World of Warcraft Mosaic Soundtrack (Review)

September 4, 2009 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook Another Blizzard Soundtrack You’ll Never Own: World of Warcraft Mosaic Soundtrack (Review)on Twitter

BlizzCon just wouldn’t be complete without some super-rare CD release to leave all of you who couldn’t attend jealous, right? This year it was the World of Warcraft: Mosaic Soundtrack which we briefly discussed in our interview with Russell Brower at BlizzCon. As he stated, the album contains tracks from the various free updates that occurred between expansions, and were selected by the team as well as by the fans through polls on the Blizzard forums.

So, is it any good? It’s actually quite good (unsurprisingly), with some great production values that put it up there with the Collector’s Edition releases that we’ve seen in the past. Similar to those releases, the tracks here all flow into one another, creating a flowing musical journey that takes you through mostly tense territory. I admit I don’t play the game, but titles like “Black Temple” and “Fury of the Sunwell” definitely jump out at me as I know they were sizable updates.

Hit the jump for our review of the BlizzCon 2009 exclusive World of Warcraft: Mosaic Soundtrack.

The album opens with the “all aboard”-like metal clangs of “To the Ends of the Earth,” inviting and open with its dreamy melody performed by Cajsa Ektav on her nychelharpa. It’s actually quite a different sound from Glenn Stafford, but I love it. It’s a beautiful piece of music, and a nice lead into one of my favorite pieces on the album. “Honor Hold” was one of the most requested tracks by fans, and is one of Matt Uelmen’s few appearances on this disc. The melody is quite stunning, but that’s mostly because it’s borrowed from one of Chopin’s famous nocturnes.

Next up: the 9-minute epic “Black Temple.” It’s dark, it’s bold, it’s Russell Brower! There’s some choral work spread throughout, and a very energetic section towards the middle. “Mag’Har” is Uelmen’s other offering, coming in as a welcome reprieve with its drawn-out brass melodies, chirping birds, and contemplative organ and string backing before another big track makes an appearance. “Fury of the Sunwell” is intense right from the beginning with thumping orchestral percussion, a foreboding choral melody, and lots of brass stabs. It goes on like this for about 8 minutes, with a lovely vocal solo towards the middle that still remains tense with an otherworldly quality.

“Winter’s Grasp” is an uncharacteristically positive piece for this album, which is even more surprising given that it’s composed by Derek Duke who we know mostly for his darker sound. The melody is stop-and-go, but the string swells create an evolving atmosphere that’s really quite beautiful although the heavy drum work that enters towards the end doesn’t really fit in with the measured pace of the rest of the piece. “The Sundered Shard,” on the other hand, is a new age-y piece composed by Russell Brower with some pitch bending synths and the sound of rain in the background. It’s another one that sounds a bit out of place among the other darker tracks on the album, but I love it.

Next up is one of my favorite tracks on album, “Karazhan,” which there was actually hints of on The Burning Crusade disc. It’s a spooky piece with a descending melody that sounds a whole lot like a haunted house with its dark organ melody and clanging bell tolls. The melody is passed on to a harpsichord for the second half, which, as you know, amazed me that they could use my two favorite instruments (organ and harpsichord) in succession like this! It’s really creepy, but absolutely amazing. The album descends further into the depths with the deep bassy pads and floating woodwind melody of Derek Duke’s “The Gods of Zul’Aman,” which works in what I think is Pedro Eustache’s exotic sounding magrouna, creating a very foreign sound. The percussion slowly picks up as strings come in at a steady, unchanging pitch to build tension.

From there, it’s quickly back into the super-long tracks, starting with the 11+ minute long “Secrets of the Ulduar,” which plods along like a steam engine, with a steady string stab and some regal brass melodies. It moves into some more “spooky” territory about midway through, making the Ulduar sound both epic and mysterious all at once! “Call of the Crusade,” on the other hand, is a little more folksy and mellow. It’s the only track here by David Arkenstone, and it opens with an incredibly touching performance by Pedro Eustache on the duduk. The piece progresses through a series of moods, from upbeat and playful to explosive and tense, although I enjoy the moving intro the best.

The final track is a bit of a joke. Edo Guidotti’s “Brewfest!” features a goofy accordion medley and the drunken rants of a group of dwarves who proceed to hoot and holler. It’s not a pleasurable listening experience at all, but it’s a fan favorite and a funny addition to the collection, especially after all the serious music found on the rest of the album.

The World of Warcraft: Mosaic Soundtrack is an absolute must if you enjoyed the Collector’s Edition albums. While it was on sale at BlizzCon 2009 for $10, I imagine it will end up on iTunes sooner than later, although you’re probably out of luck if you wanted a physical copy. Interestingly, the physical copy that we received for review is the same one that was seen on the Pay-Per-View event online and on DirectTV if you happened to see Russell Brower’s excellent interview there (they asked a lot of our questions, damn them!). Anyway, pick it up if you can, as there are a lot of gems here.

Are you a fan of the Collector’s Edition discs that Blizzard has released in the past? Do you wish they’d sell the physical version of the disc on their online store?

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