Game Music, Reviews

BlizzCon 2010: Fall of the Lich King Soundtrack (Review)

October 25, 2010 | | 4 Comments Share thison Facebook BlizzCon 2010: Fall of the Lich King Soundtrack (Review)on Twitter

Another year at BlizzCon, another exclusive soundtrack CD. While there wasn’t much in the way of news regarding Blizzard Entertainment’s upcoming projects at this year’s event, there were at least many memorable musical moments to be had. I’ll be sharing some of these in the coming days, but will first delve into the BlizzCon 2010 exclusive Fall of the Lich King Soundtrack.

The disc’s title may sound similar to Wrath of the Lich King, and I think you’ll find the content of the album to be similarly dark. What we have here is the approximately 35 minutes of music that were added to the game with the 3.3 patch update, Fall of the Lich King, including the popular theme, “Invincible.” The music comes courtesy of Russell Brower and Derek Duke, and as always, it’s of the highest quality, so join us after the jump in our review of the Fall of the Lich King Soundtrack.

Hit the jump for more!

Fall of the Lich King provides quite the confusing listening experience, but in the best way possible. It teeter-totters back and forth between incredibly frightening and stunningly beautiful, sometimes within the same track. For instance, the album opens with an epic choir and string section in “Citadel” that quickly gives way to an unsettling woodwind and bell melody. The repetitive descending melody immediately brings to mind images of wandering spirits unable to find peace, taking on a horror film vibe. We get a brief respite with the sweet guitar progressions found in “Light’s Hammer,” but it’s quickly back to tense strings with lots of vibrato and the distant rumble of orchestral percussion in “Halls of Reflection,” which sounds like the dreadful accompaniment to a trip through a haunted house.

We get another taste of beauty with “Crimson Hall,” which sports foreboding belltolls and dissonant strings that transition into a lovely reference to “Lament of the Highborne,” one of my favorite pieces of music from the World of Warcraft universe. The choral work here harmonizes perfectly with the woodwinds, and contrasts nicely with the steady belltolls in the background.

It’s then time for a surprise with “Forge of the Souls and the Bronze Jam.” In a chat we had with Audio Director Russell Brower at the show, he chuckled at the fan reaction to this piece, noting that fans believed it absolutely did not fit in the game, but they loved it all the same. What exactly is it? Well, how about a loungey free-form jazz fusion track with brass, a drum set, and rock organ all buried beneath a heavy layer of reverb and windy ambiance. It’s strange, for sure, but I agree with the fans who believe it’s a lot of fun despite it’s unusual instrumentation.

My favorite piece of music is the longest one, titled “Ice Fortress.” It plods along with lots of deep brass and strings, working in bits of memorable melody, but constantly evolving into something different. There’s a fantastic call and response between two woodwinds before an awesome piano section carries us through to the end. Deep piano chords hit every few seconds with fluttering notes in between, reminding me of “The Lunarians” from Final Fantasy IV.

After the angelic choir in “Stand Down” and the bombastic “Gunships” (whose sheet music debuted at BlizzCon 2010 alongside “Lament of the Highborne” and “Invincible”), it’s on to the track that many fans have been looking forward to: “Invincible.” This is a somber vocal/choral theme with lyrics written by Derek Duke and Neal Acree that is meant to be ambiguous in that it could either refer to Arthas himself or his beloved horse. It’s a pretty touching piece of music to be solely about a horse, but then again, I don’t really know much about his relationship with his horse. It’s a great way to end a overwhelmingly dark listening experience on a more uplifting note.

While Fall of the Lich King may provide a shorter listening experience than you would have liked (I would have loved to have heard it go on for the duration of a whole CD), what’s here is simply excellent. The packaging is similar to the Mosaic Soundtrack that was released at BlizzCon 2009, coming as a simple Digipak with credits contained within the inside cover. Unfortunately Russell Brower informed us that there were no immediate plans to get Fall of the Lich King on iTunes, as it is meant to be exclusive to the show, but hopefully they do so in the future so everyone can enjoy this music. You don’t need to be a fan of the World of Warcraft game to enjoy what the sound team at Blizzard Entertainment has been able to accomplish time and time again, so I encourage you to seek this album out if you can find it, and definitely be on the lookout at future BlizzCon events for exclusives like this.

What do you think of Blizzard Entertainment’s commitment to releasing new physical albums at each BlizzCon event? Are you a fan of any of the themes found on this disc, and would you pick it up if it did make its way to iTunes?

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