Monday, 9 December 2013

Past Spotlight-Oblivion Score Review

Title: Oblivion

Composer/s: M83, Josh Trapanese

Length: 1 hour, 9 minutes 

Track Count: 17 tracks

Year Of Release: 2013

Hello! I'm back with another past spotlight, again, and this time it's for Oblivion. This is one of my favourite scores of the year, for it's really good use of synth, and techno feel. The film, Oblivion, I actually thought was fairly underrated, and I also think this score hasn't received as good ratings as I think it should've. But that's all my personal opinion, what would I know! What I do know, is that I love this score, and I've listened to it countless times, and I simply haven't got bored of it. It's as emotionally gripping every time I go back to it, as it was the first time I had a listen. So, let's see what's so good about it!

I'm a fan of M83, since before this score came out. I really recommend his album Hurry Up, We're Dreaming, for it's heavy techno feel which really works. The man knows how to create something artificially awesome! So it was no surprise to me when I heard some of the previews for Oblivion, that it sounded very synth-based. I've made it obvious that I hate a synth-based album, generally. You'll find that most sound very one dimensional, and they don't have that human element that orchestral music can provide. Fortunately for me, M83 knows how to make synth work, and I'll tell you straight off the bat, it damn works here! If you're a fan of synth, you will adore this score!

The score has two sides to it; the touching, beautiful side, and the heavy synth/brass side. This contrast can be seen between the first two pieces. Jack's Dream, one of my favourite pieces on the score card has some beautiful orchestral music to start us up. Some soft piano gets you really tender for an emotional roller coaster. And then Waking Up pounces on you, with some hard hitting brass and synth. This contrast sounds strange in theory, but it certainly works here. It makes for a touching, dramatic score which pleases all your senses. 

The action cues that lie here, to be completely honest, are some of the best action cues I've heard all year. The capture the peril, the danger perfectly, and have you gripping your chair. Odyssey Rescue was a perfect example of this, in my case. The awesome percussion within the piece brings a real sense of urgency to the game, which I loved! Canyon Battle feels like a battle, with a constantly evolving and dramatic beat and rhythm which raises in volume, pace and octave to get you on the edge of your seat. It's pretty hectic music, that will raise the hairs on your neck for sure!  

There are some down points within the score. Tech 49 isn't as magnificent as the standard the pieces before it set for it's lackluster climaxes, despite the fact that the theme towards the end of the piece makes a wonderful stand. Losing Control falls into this pit again. It doesn't have many stand out moments of awe, unfortunately, and it doesn't feel like like it has a sure sense of direction. Sure, these few examples point out flaws, but fortunately, they're quite insignificant in the whole scheme of things, and these down points are few and far between. 

When M83 wants you to feel, he brings the feels in bucket loads! Jack's Dream and StarWaves are perfect examples of this. StarWaves has a sombre and uplifting tone to it, and it has you at the point of crying, or at least in my case it did. Jack's Dream, like I've stated before, opens up with that beautiful piano and soft orchestral music. It's quite pretty and touching, to say the least. One of our final pieces, Undimmed By Time, Unbound By Death is one of the most heart-wrenching cues I've had the pleasure of listening to. He sends us off with some calm and touching music, which will have you both wanting more, and tearing up. He knows how to get an audience, a listener, feeling stuff, and he capitalizes on that here.  

I must say, the final piece on the standard edition that I'm reviewing, Oblivion, which features the beautiful singer Susanne Sundfør, is touching and powerful. Sundfør sings over the theme, and she really adds something good to it. She nails it on the vocal front, and like a lot of this score, hits the tender chords hard. It's a great little extra M83 got together, so I credit him for it. 

This inspiration for this score, I just couldn't think of it. It was lying there, waiting to be found, but it never presented itself. That was until I saw another review of this score which perfectly explained the inspiration. You can hear the Zimmer here. Some of the pieces here could be slotted into something like The Dark Knight or Inception, pieces such as Waking Up or Canyon Battle, and you wouldn't hear or feel much difference in tone, sound, direction, etc. This begs the recommendation to all Zimmer haters, I think you'd better stay away from this score. I love it, yes, but that's because this music appeals to me, and I'm a huge fan of Zimmer's! Zimmer haters, I'm sure, will bash this score to the moon and back! 

Whilst it doesn't have the best Junkie Score we've seen all year, Oblivion is still one of my favourite scores released in 2013. It's incredibly emotional, epic and powerful. You'll surely come back to this baby soon for a revisit. M83 has knocked it out of the park, and I really hope this gets you into his band wagon, for he's done some really awesome stuff. There are certainly down points here, where the music falls a little flat, and repetitive. But the positives far outweigh these substantial negatives, so they don't bum the score down too much. Unless you're not into synth and brass based music, this score is certainly a huge recommendation from myself!

Individual Piece Scores:
Jack's Dream-95
Waking Up-100*
Tech 49-76
Odyssey Rescue-88
Earth 2077-100
Losing Control-70
Canyon Battle-91
Radiation Zone-80
You Can't Save Her-83
Raven Rock-98
I'm Sending You Away-100
Ashes Of Our Fathers-86
Temples Of Our Gods-72
Fearful Odds-100
Undimmed By Time, Unbound By Death-100*
Oblivion (Ft. Susanne Sundfør)-100*

Junkie Score: 90.52

Sunday, 8 December 2013

The Dark Knight Returns: Part 1 Score Review

Title: The Dark Knight Returns: Part 1

Composer: Christopher Drake

Length: 58 Minutes

Track Count: 22 Tracks

Year Of Release: 2013

Hello! One of my most anticipated scores of the year was released on Spotify a couple of days ago, so I thought it 100% necessary to check it out! The Dark Knight Returns is an animated DC Batman film, based upon the comic book of the same name, and it has been split into 2 parts. Christopher Drake is the man assigned to put music to film for both installments, to my pure delight! He's the man behind the Arkham Origins score, Injustice: Gods Among Us and Under The Red Hood scores, all wonderful. He knows how to make a very themed score, as well as create grand, awe-filled music, which is perfect for this type of film. I noticed within the film how well the music was working, and how distinguishable his style is, which is awesome! So, without further ado, let's mark this one!

Gotham City, 1986 is our starting piece. Drake pumps some heavy music here, but it certainly isn't irritable. It's not the best piece, as there isn't really much of value here. As we move on, synth becomes a much bigger part of the music. Drake fortunately knows how to work it to his advantage, so it's in good taste. Skipping over a piece, we arrive at Both Sides Match. This piece immediately reminds me of The Dark Knight score, a few cues within. It's short, but bold and very good. Mark Of Zorro/Time Has Come is one of the strangest pieces I think I've ever heard! It's got an assortment of strange, foreign sounds, and some big jumps in pace and volume. The tone consistently switches around, before settling within the final minute. 

The Dark Knight Returns is the piece at which everything comes together. It's full of booming, awesome action sets. Unfortunately, they're riddled with some dull synth here and there. It's a big mixed bag, to be honest. We also have some nice funky rhythms lying within, and they're pretty cool. The ending shows off the theme properly for the first time, for small period. The theme is given a bit longer to sit within These Men Are Mine, even if it's only for a short time. The rest of the piece is quite lackluster, boring and repetitive, so I wouldn't look at it again. Sightings is more orchestral based, if only a little more, as is The Signal. The Signal has a darker tone to it, that I really enjoyed. 

Harvey is one of the pieces that really sums up Christopher Drake's style, all in one. It has it's fair assortment of foreign sounds, it's loud and powerful brass, along with some pretty awesome, fast paced synth. There's some intense, key moments here towards the end, which really steal the show for me. For an action cue, it's on par with some of the best of the year. It's pretty much a 6:14 minute suite of brilliant music!  Drake turns down into some dark alleys for his next few pieces, most with I Believe You/Robin's Run, which is stacked with some heavy, powerful music for the first half of it's running time. It goes a little softer as it nears it's ending. 

Mutants... Surrender Now, Or Be Destroyed is the longest piece on the score, sitting at 7:42 minutes. It's got some really intoxicating, funky, awesome beats, which I'm sure I won't be able to get out of my head any time soon! The theme also makes a stand here, the first proper showcase, and it's absolutely glorious! One of the better Christopher Drake themes I've heard, in recent time! Carrie Kelly... Robin is one of the more touching pieces of the score. It's quiet to begin with, but it slowly builds to a nice finish, which I enjoy. Nearing the end of the score, the scale of the pieces, the atmosphere, is more grand and dark. It's nice to see, honestly. Mayor For Dinner, on the other hand, overloads on these points a little too much. It's repetitive, dull and uninteresting, unfortunately. 

I'm Counting On You Jim... One Last Time is a good all rounded piece. We have some pretty awesome percussion towards the beginning, and some well used synth, lying all round. It does drag on a little towards the end, to my dismay. Drake has been getting the longer pieces so right, that this is a bit of a disappointment. It's An Operating Table. And I'm The Surgeon is a big improvement to the last piece, with some catchier rhythms, and heavier percussion sets. It's pretty awesome! Our final piece, The Dark Knight Triumphant/End Titles has both some heart, and some real power woven in. It feels like another showcase suite, and I'm very ok with that! The whole score has delivered some fine moments, and a lot of them are revisited here. 

This is certainly one of Drake's best scores in a while. Taking a lot of cues from Arkham Origins, he creates something expected, but still damn awesome! This is a mixed bag here. Some of the pieces are quite low in quality, and others really steal the show. It must be commented on how he can keep an audiences interest, even within a huge 7 minute piece. He's one of the best in the business at that, alongside Hans Zimmer and James Horner, both wonderful at creating long, yet complex and beautiful pieces. This score is certainly one I can see myself coming back to in the near future, which is obviously a good sign! Impressive by Drake, to say the least. 

Individual Piece Scores:
Gotham City, 1986-78
Slice And Dice/Never Again-70
Both Sides Match-92
Mark Of Zorro/Time Has Come-84
The Dark Knight Returns-75
These Men Are Mine-58
The Signal-100
Liquor Store Shootout-54
I Believe You/Robin's Run-80
I'm Your Worst Nightmare-50
Eyes Slideways!-91
The General-70
Mutants... Surrender Now, Or Be Destroyed-100*
Carrie Kelly... Robin-95
You're Never Finished With Me-87
Robin's Legacy-80
Mayor For Dinner-54
I'm Counting On You Jim... One Last Time-73
It's An Operating Table. And I'm The Surgeon-100
The Dark Knight Triumphant/End Titles-100*

Junkie Score: 80.77

Thanks for reading! Check out some of these links to social networks/music streaming sites/movie related sites/etc...

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Battlefield 4 Video Game Score Review

Title: Battlefield 4

Composer/s: Johan Skugge, Jukka Rintamaki

Producer: Rami

Length: 48 minutes

Track Count: 17 tracks

Year Of Release: 2013

Here we go again! Hello, I'm back with another review! This time for something not so pleasing as Man of Steel. Something that I've personally been dreading for the past few weeks. Going on holidays allowed me time to put it off, but inevitably, I'm here, giving you a review to the sequel of one of the worst scores I've ever heard. Battlefield 4 is composed by Johan Skugge and Jukka Rintamaki, both composers really only big because of the franchise they have been introduced to. I've been hoping for a change in pace, style, anything really from both these men. Anything to separate this from it's predecessor. We shouldn't delay this any longer, let's dive in!

So, what do we start with? Exactly what I expected! Whilst not as ear shattering as any of Battlefield 3's synth, it's still pretty basic. I will admit, it is a step forward. It is irritating, the piece in general, but the percussion does make up for it in the slightest. Warsaw Theme starts off with the same heavy synth beat as our last piece, which does get on my nerves. 2 composers at the helm, and you can't develop another beat for your second piece? It certainly sounds like an action piece, thankfully. One of the major gripes I had with their previous Battlefield scoring attempt, was it's lack of action. 1:25 in. That's where I'm actually completely stunned! They've done something almost jazzy, powerful, a little touching, and pretty bloody awesome! And that's when I look at the composer for this specific piece! It's Rami, not our 2 wonderful composers! Now that is probably one of the most disappointing things I've had happen to me all week!

The Majestic Valkyrie is certain proof that these men have learnt from their mistakes and want to create something a little more in depth, interesting, possibly fun? They're exposing me to 48 minutes of their work this time, so there was an expectation that some improvement was to be made. Whilst not pacey, interesting, complex, The Majestic Valkyrie has a cool funky rhythm behind it which I love! Jin Jie's Revolution is so much more softer, less irritating than anything I've heard from either of this men. Again, like The Majestic Valkyrie, it's fairly simple. Repeat the same beat and rhythm for 3:16 minutes, up the tempo slightly when you can, add some more layers to the music every so often. You have a piece! It's not great, but it's not horrible. Oppression is back to what I've grown to hate! There's some heavy synth lying within, and it's offending my ear drums. The poor guys had enough trouble with Battlefield 3, don't repeat it! It's a long 3:53 minutes, I can assure you that! A Theme For Kjell is a complete contrast from Oppression. It's touching, funky, and hits a lot of chords. The synth is still prominent, but it takes a step back. I almost hear, dare I say it, piano! Something easily distinguishable over synth is good, very good!

And guess what everyone?! We're back to the synth for our next two pieces. Both extremely uneventful, uninteresting, dull pieces of work! Silk Vista has a little more going for it, so the score is quite a bit higher, but that doesn't change the fact that it did next to nothing for me. Alone And Abandoned does a little more than any of the previous pieces. It has a fast, smart rhythm, which for the most part I enjoyed. Fishing In Baku may have been repetitive to an enraging point, but what it lacks in variety, it makes up for with a damn catchy beat! The percussion here is really engrossing and a bunch of fun!

If Wishes Were Horses almost puts me to sleep. It's slow, fairly uneventful and dull for a good majority of it's running time. Pretty much a standard Johan Skugge and Jukka Rintamaki piece! High Tide is one of the more diverse pieces. The percussion is easily distinguishable from the heavy synth here, and takes a center stage. It's quite unpredictable, which is a change from the repetitiveness which we've been subjected to for a good majority of this score. Being Irish sticks with the percussion, but holds back a little more. The synth is more involved this time, to my utter despair! The Beta Theme is just atrocious. It sounds hollow, dull and above all else, irritating beyond belief. 1:23 minutes of pure crap! When The Dam Breaks feels more thought out, and has more depth to it all. There's enough variety and originality here to be able to rate it in a positive form. It's still unmistakably predictable, unfortunately.

Dunn's Down, the longest piece on the track list is up next. It happens to clock in at 4:53, and for once, it feels as if there is a little meaning to this piece. There is a bit of jeopardy here, which raises your interest levels. It's certainly not anything remarkable, though, and it's fairly long running time, or long in the context of this score, really drags it on. Cyclone 2 is our ending piece and it's fairly awesome! It's got some pace, and it feels like a great action piece. Not with the grand scale, but with the funky and powerful beats which make for some nice foot tapping.

Johan Skugge and Jukka Rintamaki have certainly improved over their first attempt at a Battlefield score. It's filled with more variety than it's predecessor, it's more centered around action, and it drops the ear shattering synth. Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, the score still does succumb to boring, repetitive beats and rhythms, and consistently thumps you over the head with pieces which aren't remotely interesting. So whilst I see an improvement, I don't see me coming back to revisit this score again.

Individual Piece Scores:
Warsaw Theme-100*
The Majestic Valkyrie-70
Jin Jie's Revolution-60
A Theme For Kjell-100*
Rough Journey-17
Silk Vista-45
Alone And Abandoned-80
Fishing In Baku-71
If Wishes Were Horses-55
High Tide-93
Being Irish-50
Battlefield 4 (Beta Theme)-03
When The Dam Breaks-66
Dunn's Down-58
Cyclone 2-96

Junkie Score: 61.94

Thanks for reading! Check out some of these links to social networks/music streaming sites/movie related sites/etc...

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Past Spotlight-Man Of Steel Deluxe Edition Score Review

Title: Man Of Steel

Composer: Hans Zimmer

Length: 1 hour, 56 minutes

Track Count: 24 tracks

Year Of Release: 2013

Hello again! Since we're near the end of the year, I thought it the perfect time to start pulling out some of the scores that were released earlier this year that I couldn't review, and putting them into the spotlight. That means that it's time for one of my most anticipated reviews; the Man of Steel score review! Being a Zimmer fan; a massive one to say the least, I couldn't wait for this score! It's a modern Superman score, with the composer behind the rejuvenation of Batman working on it. That's something that in my book is worth getting excited over! And when this beauty was released, it did nothing but please me. It had me crying, tapping my foot and humming the same rhythms for days on end. Unlike the film it was representing, which I love nonetheless, it blew my expectations out of the water! It delivered in every sense of the word, which is something that isn't so common nowadays. So, finally, here is my review for one of the best scores I've heard in a long time, Man of Steel!

To begin with, I'd like to mention how I've never really enjoyed John William's Superman score. Call me whatever you like, but that won't change the fact that apart from the theme, one of the best pieces in score history, John Williams doesn't do much within that score that I find too interesting. It's not bad, certainly not, but it's not as good as the hype leads me to believe. So I didn't have this huge amount of dread come over me when it was announced that this would be a complete stand alone score. The reactions when people realized that the theme that John William's mastered would not be included here were quite extreme. Some questioned what the producers, what Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder were thinking! I, on the other hand, relished the fact that one of my favourite composers, Zimmer, would be scoring this film. Zimmer has done some pretty awful scores, no doubting that, but he has done some of my favourite scores as well. The Dark Knight is one of the first scores I ever heard, and I was taken aback. Zimmer introduced me to what music could make me feel, what an incredible effect that it could have upon my body. So I was excited for this score!

Zimmer can do emotional music, and he has a good heap of it loaded here. Goodbye My Son takes my breath away whenever I listen to it, because of it's deep and powerful vocals and mystifying brass. It's so simplistic, yet filled with a tremendous amount of heart. The same can be said for the truly touching This Is Clark Kent. It's a perfect character driven piece, one which captures the central character perfectly. Despite his tremendous power, he can be soft, he can be gentle, and he can care for those around him. The piano within these pieces really brings me to tears. It's soft and full of wonder, which is what Zimmer loves using piano for, and I love it!

Percussion. One word, yet it carries a crap ton of power throughout this score! This is some of the best use of percussion I've ever had the pleasure of listening to. It's powerful, intense, fast and above all, incredibly aggressive. Oil Rig is a perfect example of this. It gives a feeling of jeopardy, something that a lot of composers don't see fit for percussion. One of the things that most intrigued me when I found the making of the score online, was how Zimmer recorded the percussion. It's one thing to simply put a microphone next to a bunch of drums and have a few percussionists hammer away. It's another to create a setup in which you feel engulfed in drums, in pure power. Zimmer set up the percussion in a clock like format. 12 percussionists hammering away around a microphone. Literally AROUND. Listen to the percussion showcases in surround sound, and you'll understand why Zimmer has done what he's done. The drums seem to surround you, and it's mesmerising, intense and awesome, all at once!

One of the the problems people have with this score is it's lack of a proper theme. There is certainly no one distinct theme, unlike the John William's score. Instead, you can pick and choose your favourite piece, or your theme, if you will. Many find Flight, our big uplifting piece, the obvious theme for the score. Others find This Is Clark Kent to be the theme, for it's focus on our main character. I certainly don't see a theme here, unlike others. I don't find it necessary, not in a score like this. Zimmer has created amazing sets, but nothing that really stands out as a representative, something that showcases the rest of the score. Sure, you can take Man Of Steel-Hans' Original Sketchbook as the showcase piece, the piece that really gives you the best of the best, but I don't find it to be a theme, certainly not. I love the fact that there is nothing designated, because that means I can interpret pieces in a way that suits me. It is confusing, I understand! But what I'm trying to get at, is that certain individual pieces will appeal to you more than others, and other people will have different opinions and find certain pieces more engaging and awesome than others, like yourself. It's down to individual interpretation, this score, and that is something that I adore.

My favourite sets within the score... I'd have to say, my favourite lies within If You Love These People, at around the 2 minute mark. The piece slows down, and the brass and percussion just belt out a small little riff which goes above and beyond. You'll know it when you hear it! The first big percussion set within Oil Rig is completely awesome! It's dramatic and it will have you tapping your foot along very quickly! Terraforming is filled with some really rocking, powerful riffs. About 3 and a half minutes in is when it starts getting interesting, so I recommend you go from there, if you want a highlight reel. If you're talking about the Deluxe Edition, I'd certainly set you up with Arcade. Whilst the strings and the rhythm they set are front stage, I'd recommend listening to the brass in the background. It's actually quite touching, whilst being loaded with some incredible volume and power.

Whilst on the topic of the Deluxe Edition, I'd certainly say pick it up! It may cost you a little extra, but it is worth it! I've fallen in love with Arcade and Earth, both inspiring pieces, filled with the best parts of the score as a whole. And if you loved the percussion within the score, then This Is Madness will delight you. It's not my cup of tea, and whilst the drums do make for some epic music whilst complimenting other instruments, they can't really hold it together for the 3:48 running time of the piece. This Is Madness has to be the only piece I couldn't give a perfect score to. General Zod represents the Kryptonian himself in perfect fashion, something that Zimmer is best at. It's intense, fast and all the while a little unsettling. It sounds a little twisted, in a wonderful way! You Led Us Here and Are You Listening, Clark? are both very original and intelligent pieces, to add the positives this Deluxe Edition already has to it's name. There is certainly some good, solid reasons to pick up the extra pieces, and I'd say, coming up to the Christmas period, it's the best time to pick it up.

Zimmer knows how to balance a score, for sure. There is a good amount of synth here, but it's not too overpowering like a lot of reviewers and score fans would like to argue. I found that he managed to interweave synth with orchestral, to create almost perfect harmony. There is never any stage at which any certain instrument or section overpowers all those around it in a negative manner. The percussion constantly rises above the rest, slowly but surely, to drown everything else out. Never did I find this annoying, like I thought I would. This happens in the case of brass, of strings, of pretty much every single instrument you can imagine. It's never overdone, never overpowering. It's close to perfection, how well he balances everything out. Zimmer gives us a taste of everything, and makes sure you love every minute of it!

Hans Zimmer has created something, that in my opinion, is close to pure perfection. The Zimmer haters will undoubtedly hate this score, and to be honest, I can see why. He certainly didn't hold back on the grunt that this score offers, something that is fairly common within Zimmer scores. Others will call this a travesty, something that doesn't deserve to be called a Superman score. I can understand where they come from. Doesn't mean I don't completely disagree with them! This is a powerful, fun, sad and intense score that pleased me beyond belief! The first time I heard it, I simply couldn't think critically. I sat back, and enjoyed. After listening to so many scores, finding something that just has me sitting back and admiring is something that is quite bloody rare! Zimmer has balanced this score perfectly, drums with piano, brass with strings, synth with orchestral. This, to me, is one of the best scores I've ever heard. Buy it, listen to it, love it!

Junkie Score (Standard Edition): 100
Junkie Score (Deluxe Edition): 97.5

Thanks for reading! Check out some of these links to social networks/music streaming sites/movie related sites/etc...

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Score Review

Title: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Composer: James Newton Howard

Length: 1 Hour, 15 Minutes

Track Count: 29 Tracks

Year Of Release: 2013

Hello! It's been a while since I've posted, since I had to go on holidays with my family. The horror! But I'm back, and I present you one of the more anticipated films and scores of the year, in my eyes, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire! I'm a huge fan of the books, so I was concerned about the film not reaching my expectations, like the first film. The first installment into the franchise, in my honest opinion, was pretty mediocre. So coming into the film, I had pretty much 0 expectations. The film, though, rocked my socks off! It was an incredible improvement from the first film, and I absolutely loved it!  Now that I've finished applauding the film, I can get to the score. James Newton Howard is not one of my favorite composers, far from it. Nonetheless, he's still still wonderful at what he does. Take a look at his Harvey Dent themes from The Dark Knight, and you'll see the extent of his skills. His score for The Hunger Games, unfortunately, wasn't a great display of skill. It was quite lackluster, in my opinion. Redemption can be earned though, my friends, so lets see how Howard does the second time around!

The score starts off with a good theme for Katniss. Whilst a little repetitive, it's certainly affecting. Something I really appreciate from the guy is his ability to balance contemporary with synth. Howard gets the mix just right. Our first couple of pieces are slow, sad and touching, yet still contain some darker tones within. It threatens to turn cliched at various points, but Howard keeps the score calm and calculated for a good while. His use of effortless vocals brings a certain haunting feel towards the first parts of this score which make for a great mood setter. All this combined with the sharp violins and synth make for a great welcome and introduction. Mockingjay Graffiti is when the score allows for percussion to make it's way through, and that's when the score loses it's calm yet dangerous feel. It smooths out, and allows for some stronger and deep riffs. The Tour showcases some incredibly beautiful sets, some of which are clean and touching, others which maintain the interesting and plotting feel the more recent pieces have contained. It's certainly paving a strong path for the rest of the score, one which I really like.

Daffodil Waltz is the departure from what we've been exposed to as of this far, and sets the way for the grander, more polished Capital themes. The brass is much more evident at this stage of the score, much more prominent. I was a little confused by the decision to include the Panem Anthem into the score. It was a little out of place in the way of tone, and I felt it should have been left off the track list. Peacekeepers restores our common tone, and is filled with mysterious and brooding sets, which all sound wonderful. Whilst a little uneventful towards the ending, I did enjoy it. This is about the stage in which we go back to our sad and deep music, starting with Prim, a piece I didn't feel for as much as I expected to. A Quarter Quell on the other hand is a much more powerful piece, and has some truly awe inspiring moments.

Once again, the vocals play a huge part in creating a dark, emotional mood. Katniss Is Chosen is a perfect representation of this. The vocals add to the piece by ten fold. When the volume raises, the piece sky rockets. It's fairly amazing, to be honest! We have a bit of a down period afterwards, which lasts for a short while, before we return to something original and interesting in Bow And Arrow. It's short, straight to the point and very effective in preparing us for some more fast paced cues that are sure to hit soon. Let's Start looks at leaving the Capital behind and embarking on something fresh and a little more exciting. That's something that I have felt missing for a good while, something fast and exciting. That's the problem a lot of reviewers, and myself, had with the first film's score. It's lack of speed or powerful action cues. The Games Begin show us that Howard has certainly learnt from his mistakes and is putting some effort into creating some awesome action!

Heavy brass is something that I crave. When you can perfect it, it's wonderful! Howard is one of the best in the business when it comes to creating intelligent, fast and powerful brass sets. This score has some awesome brass, as well as percussion, lying hidden in those action cues towards the end. Take The Fog for example. There are some brilliantly intense and exciting sets lying within that showcase Howard's skill with brass perfectly! It's a chaotic and fun piece, with some slow and methodical sets done towards the end. The same kind of thing can be said for Monkey Mutts, one of the more wild pieces here, to my utter delight! Again, it does slow down around half way through, to allow for some cool and calm moments. It's a really touching piece of music, something that the beginning certainly doesn't hint towards.

I Need You is where the music really settles down. Where we get some pure emotion, in musical form. It's bliss, in my eyes! The music, for the next few pieces, rotates between dark and fast and smooth and emotional. Arena Crumbles is one of the emotional gems towards the end of the score, and it's beautiful! It's really moving stuff. Our final piece isn't great though, so I'm left wanting a little more! Nonetheless, great score!

James Newton Howard has improved vastly with this score, over the first. The action cues are wonderful, the emotional pieces hit chords and when he intends to create a mysterious atmosphere, he does so. This score does have it's down moments, I will admit, but these surely do not outweigh the goods this score has to offer. Get around to listening to this soon!

I Had To Do That*
Just Friends
The Tour
A Quarter Quell*
Katniss Is Chosen*
The Fog
Monkey Mutts*
I Need You*
Arena Crumbles*

Individual Piece Scores: 
1. Katniss-96
2. I Had To Do That-100*
3. We Have Visitors-86
4. Just Friends-98
5. Mockingjay Graffiti-80
6. The Tour-100
7. Daffodil Waltz-79
8. Waltz in A Op. 39, No. 15-80
9. Fireworks-75
10. Anthem-50
11. Peacekeepers-89
12. Prim-76
13. A Quarter Quell-100*
14. Katniss Is Chosen-100*
15. Introducing The Tributes-66
16. There’s Always A Flaw-70
17. Bow And Arrow-92
18. We’re A Team-78
19. Let’s Start-84
20. The Games Begin-95
21. Peeta’s Heart Stops-74
22. Treetops-80
23. The Fog-99
24. Monkey Mutts-100*
25. Jabberjays-75
26. I Need You-100*
27. Broken Wire-60
28. Arena Crumbles-100*
29. Good Morning Sweetheart-78

Junkie Score: 84.82

My Spotify Account

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Past Spotlight-Battlefield 3 Video Game Score Review

Title: Battlefield 3

Composer/s: Johan Skugge, Jukka Rintamaki

Length: 36 minutes

Track Count: 19 tracks

Year Of Release: 2011

Hello! I'm back with another past spotlight, this time with the score for Battlefield 3. I'm checking this out solely to get myself pumped for the Battlefield 4 score, which I'm checking out in days to come. Johan Skugge and Jukka Rintamaki score this game, and neither of them I've ever heard. Am I excited to bring you this score? Not at all! So lets dive in and get it all over with!

The score is based around extremely irritating and powerful synth, which does nothing but hurt your ears. The vast majority of the pieces that lie within this score are all repetitive, one dimensional and uninteresting. It sounds as if a 5th grader could write this stuff, no music experience required! What it lacks most of all, in my opinion, is heart and depth. It doesn't tap into my emotions at any point, and it's not full of witty melodies or impressive beats. It's constantly bland and slow.

I can normally get some kind of a theme out of score, but for this score, I simply can't! I don't imagine much happening whilst this score is playing. Isn't that what music is meant to do? Show something to you, whether it be a theme or a scene or a character, without physically showing you that specific person? This score lacks all of those points.

Once a piece starts, and a beat and melody is established, it sticks for the rest of the piece. It doesn't seem to change much. There may be a small period in between where some new noise is introduced to simply break up the constant hammering of synth. But these are short and far between, and that means that you're stuck with painful beats which last for too long to bear! I can't invest in a score, get involved, enjoy it if it's continually bringing me pain!

The Battlefield 3 score is one of the worst scores I've ever heard. It's lack of variety is unbearable, it's constant heavy synth is cringe worthy and there is almost nothing worthy of value in the way of melodies. It's all just hammering music, which will induce pain upon your ears. The bottom line is avoid this score at all costs. I'm hoping for something a little better for Battlefield 4!

Solomon's Theme
The Death Of Vladimir

Individual Piece Scores:
Battlefield 3 Main Theme-52
Thunder Run-50
The Red Wire-43
Solomon's Theme-69
The Death Of Vladimir-60
Fire From The Sky-38
Kaffarov's Villa-09
Operation Metro-12
La Bourse-47
Black Gold-20
The Great Destroyer-59
Hunter's Point-40
Interrogating Blackburn-20
Battlefield 3 Dark Theme-05

Junkie Score: 37

My Spotify Account

Past Spotlight-The Hunt For Red October Score Review

Title: The Hunt For Red October

Composer: Basil Poledouris

Length: 30 minutes

Track Count: 10 tracks

Year Of Release: 1990

Film Synopsis: In 1984, the USSR's best submarine captain in their newest sub violates orders and heads for the USA. Is he trying to defect, or to start a war?

Hello! I'm enjoying writing about older scores, so after discovering this little one, I thought it necessary to post something about it up here! Basil Poledouris's score for the film The Hunt For Red October received mixed reviews, but I'm willing to stick it out and see what I think of it! Does it succumb to common action score cliches, or does it make it's own mark? Let's see!

It feels quite basic, the whole score. The brass doesn't do anything too spectacular, the strings play some predictable and repetitive riffs, especially through the first few pieces, both which run for a fairly long time. I will admit, I did enjoy the vocal showcase that took place throughout the first piece. It wasn't exactly memorable, but it was enjoyable. That said, this score doesn't offer too much you haven't already heard, if you've gotten around to listening to a good amount of action scores. Most of the cues succumb to slow build ups, and non-satisfying climaxes, which makes a good deal of the score a grind. There are a few pieces which sound original and have some riffs which don't sound textbook, but these have to be some of the shortest cues on the track list!

There are some intense and gripping pieces. Whilst they are few and far between, they still exist! One of the stand outs had to be Chopper, which had the percussion on display. Poledouris certainly excels here, and it's good to see! And on the other end of the spectrum, there are some bland and uninteresting pieces, such as Two Wives. It doesn't seem to know it's tone, and it never seems to go anywhere! There is such a contrast between the great and the not so great! There are some pieces which don't do anything for me, and yet there are some which will stick in my head for days!

Basil Poledouris certainly tries his best to make something that sounds original and complex, and for a good half of the score, he really does! There is just a lot of the piece, that while decent enough, doesn't really appeal to me. It's not exactly a typical 90's action score, I'll give Poledouris that. This still doesn't make me enjoy it any more. I can see myself slipping this on if I'm really bored and want a little kick, as it's only 30 minutes, but I don't see a whole heap of replay value.

Putin's Demise 
Ancestral Aid

Individual Piece Scores:
Hymn To Red October-76
Nuclear Scam-70
Putin's Demise-86
Course Two-Five-Zero-43
Ancestral Aid-92
Two Wives-58
Red Route I-84
Plane Crash-77

Junkie Score: 74.2

My Spotify Account

Monday, 11 November 2013

Past Spotlight-Public Enemies Score Review

Title: Public Enemies

Composer: Elliot Goldenthal

Length: 29 minutes

Track Count: 11 tracks

Year Of Release: 2009

Score Themes: 1930s, dark, classical

Film Synopsis: The Feds try to take down notorious American gangsters John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd during a booming crime wave in the 1930s.

Hello! Another past spotlight, I'm sure you're getting sick of them! This time we have Elliot Goldenthal's score for the film Public Enemies, a film that got a "Meh" out of me, or more specifically, a 6 out of 10. I don't know much about Elliot Goldenthal, and I've never heard one of his scores, but apparently, he's not too shabby. I'm looking forward to listening to this score, so let's jump in!

The score is a lovely display of orchestral skill, and from the first piece, Drive To Bohemia, Goldenthal has me hooked! It's very classical and minimalist, both some of my favourite types of score. It's a satisfying score, filled with pieces that will leave you feeling complete. One of the biggest problems I have with these classical scores is that they often leave me wanting more. Not the greedy more, because it's so good. The "I feel no fulfillment! Give me more!" It's good to see that Elliot Goldenthal has provided enough substance and power to leave you feeling full.

The score has a couple classical songs by musicians such as Diana Krall, Otis Taylor and Billie Holiday. These all fit the tone of the score, and they don't at all detract from the overall experience. The Diana Krall set, Bye Bye Blackbird is a soft and soothing song that will have you relaxed and calm. Otis Taylor gives us Nasty Letter, which showcases some awesome guitar solos, and it suits the 1930s period so damn well! The Indian Bottom Association Old Regular Baptists presents the haunting and striking Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah, which has a short running time, filled with some really hard hitting moments. Billie Holiday gives us some funky music, in our final guest appearance. It's enjoyable, and once again, suits the rest of the score perfectly!

Goldenthal shines through with the string and brass sections. He evokes saddening and powerful pieces from these instruments, and these types of instruments suit this film and score well. So much of the score feels so effortless and simple, that it just allows you time to sit back and enjoy. You don't need to examine the score in a heap of depth to enjoy it! Just get comfortable and let the music take you on a ride, a ride to an interesting and fantastic world!

The only negative that I can find would have to be that there are a few pieces with repetitive and unoriginal riffs, most noticeable in Plane To Chicago. These are small riffs, but they are still there, and they needed pointing out, in my humble opinion. It's a small nitpick, simply because these repetitive riffs are far between.

Haunting and incredibly gloomy, both in the positive sense, Elliot Goldenthal's score for Public Enemies is a real treat! It captures the time period it's film takes place in, and Goldenthal takes advantage of this, creating something that is minimal yet powerful. He ticks a lot of boxes here, and I'm disappointed in myself for not finding the man quicker! Great score!

Drive To Bohemia
Billie's Arrest
Bye Bye Blackbird*
Nasty Letter*
Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah
JD Dies*

Individual Piece Scores:
Drive To Bohemia-98
Billie's Arrest-95
Love In The Dunes-82
Bye Bye Blackbird-100*
Phone Call To Billie-92
Nasty Letter-100*
Plane To Chicago-86
Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah-98
Gold Coast Restaurant-90
The Man I Love-95
JD Dies-100*

Junkie Score: 94.18

My Spotify Account

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Batman: Arkham Origins Video Game Score Review

Title: Batman: Arkham Origins

Composer: Christopher Drake

Year Of Release: 2013

Score Themes: Darkness, madness, heroic

Game Synopsis: Years before the Arkham incidents, the neophyte Dark Knight finds himself the target of an open contract courtesy of Black Mask that draws the likes of Deathstroke, Deadshot, and Bane.

Hello! I'm very excited to review the score for Batman: Arkham Origins! Batman is one of my favourite heroes in the comic book world, and scores relating to Batman usually turn out in fairly good shape! Take Hans Zimmers wonderful Dark Knight trilogy, one of my favourite score trilogies! This time, Christopher Drake has been recruited to tackle the next installment into the Arkham setting, and he has to handle a younger and less experienced Batman. Christopher Drake has done some magnificent scores in the past, most noticeably the score for The Dark Knight Returns Parts 1 and 2!  So, it's no surprise that this is one of my more anticipated scores of the year, so lets see if it delivers!

Arkham Origins Main Theme starts us off, and it sounds a little like Zimmer's work for The Dark Knight trilogy. There is a heavy emphasis on strings and brass throughout the entire piece. It certainly sounds like a Batman theme, and one of the better ones out there! Not many negatives within the piece, to be honest! The Night Before Christmas is a haunting and harrowing piece. It has a distinct reliance on the percussion here, and it brings worth sounds which perfectly replicate the Christmas kind of feel. Black Mask Escapes is faster and more dangerous than it's predecessor. There are some brilliant riffs lying all through this piece, but the piece lasts for a mere 0:47 seconds, so we don't get much! Killer Croc is something of a longer version of Black Mask Escapes, with a little higher intensity and pace, which really has a big effect! There are various edgy and distressing riffs that fire all throughout the piece, and it makes for an interesting ride. Christopher Drake never lets any come off as lazy or 1 dimensional. There are so many aspects to this piece, and whilst it is filled to the brim with constant, original riffs, it never feels too overwhelming.

Croc Arrest has much more of a distinct theme to it than our last Killer Croc themed piece had. It's short, but awesome, as is our next piece, Batwing Storm Damage, which only lasts 0:39 seconds! It's a strong piece in the brass and percussion areas, but it doesn't do much in it's running time, for obvious reasons. Assassins is one of the more infectious pieces in the score so far. It's got some heavy percussion, and some really powerful brass. It goes to so many places in it's running time, and not a second is wasted! Weapons Deal is a softer, Christmasier piece. It's short, but it manages to capture some aggression and the feel of Christmas. The Final Offer starts off with either a heavy synth riff, or a single note being played over and over again on an electric pedal guitar. Either way, it's a slightly irritating piece due to this continuous riff. It's not stacked with much, and it is one of the more dull pieces on the score so far. The piece Deathstroke, in my opinion, perfectly replicates Deathstroke himself in music. It's fast, it has a heap of aggression and grunt and it never relaxes. All these points are so perfectly captured! An uneven beat makes for an impressive first few minutes. The strings and brass, once again, are a main focal point in this piece. The piece surprisingly never feels like it drags on for too long, despite the fact that the same rhythm and beats are used for fairly long durations.

Winter Comes To Gotham returns to the Christmas vibes. It's slow and manipulative, and it almost reminds me of some 80's horror film! More recently, Marco Beltrami's Carrie score, as a matter of fact. It's a dark piece, that keeps your interest the whole way through! Carols Of The Bells doesn't feel like it has a specific mood to it, which is a little confusing. It's light and bubbly, mixed with a dark overshadowing of brass. It feels so much like The Joker, so unpredictable and strange! G.C.P.D returns to the heavy brass and percussion we got in Deathstroke, to create a faster and more infectious beat to begin with. This piece in particular feels so much like Zimmer's Dark Knight. The amount of power in the percussion is insane towards the end! Can't You Just Play Along? is incredibly dark and unfocused in it's direction. You don't know where anything is going, what's happening until it happens. It's quite exciting, to be honest! It's thrilling climax is perfect for the kind of piece Drake wanted to create. Merchant Bank Escape is a fast and direct piece and doesn't take it's time on finishing up and ending with a bang! Copperhead is slower, more methodical, more dangerous. It constantly reinvigorates itself, recreates itself, with a stop start kind of format that I usually hate, that strangely works here! Hallucinations is a piece which screams madness! You can almost hear The Joker laughing as the piece ramps up! It's edgy, twisted and demented. Every second of it's 2:57 are so incredibly intense, so brutal, that the piece will leave you physically drained.

Snake In A Box is a charming yet mischievous piece. I feel like it ends much too quickly, with a running time of 0:40 seconds. Night Patrol has an heroic tone to it, mixed with an edgy and fierce riff that plays the entire way through. Regent Hotel uses most of it's playing time to build to a less than appealing climax. The piece doesn't offer too much, unfortunately. Bane plays to the effect of Bane, like I expected. It's heavy and powerful, and sets itself to an almost marching beat, which I personally loved! As of this point, Drake has managed to perfectly recreate most of the main characters into music! Why Would You Save... Me? is a mixed bag. There are some key moments which are done to perfection, mixed with some moments where the tone is really undefined. The Thieving Magpie is such a strange piece in the context of this score! It's so chirpy and wonderful! If I hadn't have seen the cutscene this piece is included in, I would've been completely lost! If this doesn't bring a smile to your face, there is something truly wrong with you! It's a great composition by Drake that will stick to your memory for sure!

The Bridge is not nearly as exciting than many of it's previous pieces, and it's full of an uninteresting melody, to my dismay. Firefly is the longest piece on the score, clocking in at 6:00, and showcases some of the more intricate and powerful riffs and melodies within the score. Despite it's length in comparison to a lot of the other pieces, it continually stays fresh and very energetic, to my delight! It runs the line between darkness and heroic, with some aggressive and brutal riffs, mixed in with some strong Batman themes. It's climax is one of the better riffs this score has to offer! I won't state the full name, just I Have Left, is a short piece full of some saddening and touching moments. Like a lot of the rest of the score, I don't know the tone of the piece, and it's hard whether to say it's dark or quite the opposite. Allies is an incredibly sad and sombre piece. It manages to hit the emotional mark quite well, and it's got some heart wrenching moments, to be brutally honest. It ends with a big change in tone and pace, and turns itself into a dark and brooding piece in a matter of seconds. Electric Chair is much like a lot of The Joker's themes. Edgy, raspy and dark. The underlying theme to this whole score, darkness. It's a little slow, but it's got enough smart and interesting riffs to keep you invested. One Of Us Will Die sounds like Bane, Batman and The Joker, all in one piece, and that it should be! The cutscene this piece is titled after includes all three of those characters. It's threatening, edgy and almost brooding.

Shadow Of The Bat is quite obviously The Batman's theme. It's fast, cunning and sane. It's the very opposite of The Joker! You sense there is a complete sense of control in the music, that Drake is certain for what is to come next, unlike The Joker's themes, at which were unpredictable and random! Arkham Origins End Titles is a very smooth and dark piece, that perfectly sums up the experience that has been the Arkham Origins score! It's heroic and brutal, which makes for a perfect ending! But, we're not finished yet. Arkham Origins Suite is pretty much a showcase of some of the best riffs from the score, and this makes for a very interesting piece. Drake mixes so many melodies and riffs into an almost perfect standard! It's ending is sublime, and I'm glad to say I really do approve this score!

Christopher Drake has knocked it out of the park here! There are a couple of points in which the score turns a little dull and silly, but these are clearly overshadowed by the dark tone and incredibly fast and aggressive power that this score showcases. It's one of Drake's best scores on it's own terms, and I can say for sure that this score plays into the game incredibly well. It's an hour and 4 minutes well spent, in my opinion. If you're a fan of superhero scores, this will certainly be to your liking!

Arkham Origins Main Title*
Killer Croc
The Thieving Magpie*
Arkham Origins End Titles*
Arkham Origins Suite*

Individual Piece Scores:
Arkham Origins Main Title-100*
The Night Before Christmas-95
Black Mask Escapes-80
Killer Croc-98
Croc Arrest-90
Batwing Storm Damage-79
Weapons Deal-87
The Final Offer-73
Winter Comes To Gotham-97
Carols Of The Bells (Jokers Theme)-86
Can't You Just Play Along?-90
Merchant Bank Escape-82
Snake In A Box-78
Night Patrol-83
Regent Hotel-75
Why Would You Save.... Me?-80
The Thieving Magpie-100*
The Bridge-70
I Have Left Enough Life In Him For Some Final Words... If You Hurry-80
Electric Chair-87
One Of Us Will Die-90
Shadow Of The Bat-95
Arkham Origins End Titles-100*
Arkham Origins Suite-100*

Junkie Score: 89.84

My Spotify Account

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Past Spotlight-The Impossible Score Review

Title: The Impossible

Composer: Fernando Velázquez

Year Of Release: 2012

Score Themes: Strength of the human spirit, survival.

Film Synopsis: The story of a tourist family in Thailand caught in the destruction and chaotic aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Hi! I'm back with another little spotlight for a score that I only recently heard. The Impossible is a film that I saw earlier this year, and I have to say, it is one of the most heartbreaking films I've ever seen. It's emotionally wrenching, and multiple viewings are almost impossible. Fernando Velázquez has the job of creating a touching and dramatic score, and I have to say, he does so to almost perfection! I just couldn't resist sharing this brilliant score with you!

The whole score is incredibly minimal. Velázquez doesn't overdo any of the pieces, and this works to great effect. Emotional music doesn't require heavy synth (Take note Johann Johannson) or an entire orchestra. Grab a piano and you can create something which brings you to tears. That's the message I get from this score! The whole score is so delicate and original, it's almost impossible to compare this to any other work I've heard as of recently. The way he uses vocals and strings is so aggressive in a subtle way. The way the piano cuts through pieces full of loud and obnoxious instruments, almost as if to say "Hey, I'm here, and I don't need to power my way through all the other instruments to reduce you to an emotional state." It all works so well!

When Velázquez sees fit to add an instrument into a piece, he makes sure the instrument is given time to shine. Everything is added for a reason, and you get to hear every instrument make a distinct impact on what you're listening to. It's such a unique way of composing. A composer treating every instrument he uses with respect is something that I love listening to.

The score is only 52 minutes long, so it's obvious that Velázquez didn't set out to create a score that covers every aspect of the film. He saw the essentials, and he provided them. And he does so with near perfection. Every key aspect within the film is seen to, and the majority are seen to in spectacular fashion. He manages to create a flowing and smooth score, despite moments at which he has to make his way from a light, touching and emotional piano solo, to a dark and threatening cello showcase. How he does this with a close to perfection hit rate is beyond me!

I often hunger for speed and volume from a score. Maybe it's because I'm a young 13 year old and I get bored easily, or maybe it's just how I am, how I was born. Whatever the cause, I didn't hunger for anything of the sorts throughout this score. It kept slow and touching for the vast majority of play, minimal volume and pace changes occurring throughout it's running time. Despite this, I wanted more of the quiet and small piano solos, the violin ensemble sets where the music would turn dark and haunting. It takes a strong composer to evoke these kinds of feelings out of myself, someone who has their preferences in music and generally sticks to them. Velázquez is indeed a strong composer.

The score to The Impossible will rush by, in a sense. This isn't just because the score is a short one. It's the fact that it almost makes you feel like time's stopping. It's just you and the score, and that doesn't downgrade the score to a grind. Velázquez has created something emotional, touching, edgy, dark and beautiful. I want to write more about this score, I really do! But some scores are just so near perfect, that it becomes difficult to pinpoint the best parts, the extraordinary factors. It's more of a personal journey, something that you have to hear yourself to get an idea of the power and and raw emotion this contains. From start to end, your breath will be taken away!

The Impossible Main Titles*
The Best Holiday Season Ever*
Kem Kang Noi*
I Will Bring Your "Pappa" Here
Mom, Guess What I Just Saw Outside?*
Let's Go, No Need To Wait
I Have A Family Too*
He Looked So Happy*
The Impossible End Titles*

Individual Piece Scores:
The Impossible Main Titles-100*
The Best Holiday Season Ever-100*
Is It Over?-82
Even If It's The Last Thing We Do-92
Kem Kang Noi-100*
My Boys, I Cannot See Them-90
Go And Help People-93
I Will Bring Your "Pappa" Here-100
Is There Somebody We Could Call?-80
We'll Drive You Somewhere Safer-81
I Won't Stop Looking Until I Find Them-90
But She'll Be OK, Right?-98
Mom, Guess What I Just Saw Outside?-100*
Let's Go, No Need To Wait-99
Am I Dead?-84
I Have A Family Too-100*
He Looked So Happy-100*
The Impossible End Titles-100*

Junkie Score: 93.83

My Spotify Account

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Call Of Duty: Ghosts Video Game Score Review

Hello again! We're nearing the end of the year, and big scores are coming out in both the film world, and video game world! I'm a huge fan of the CoD game scores, not so much the games themselves though. The majority of the scores are all fast paced, well done action themed music, and it's good fun to listen to! This time, we have departed from Black Ops II's composer Jack Wall, and we've turned to a much less experienced composer, David Buckley. I'll be honest, I've never even heard of the guy! I'm hoping for his sake that he can pull of one of the biggest scores of the year! Let's see if he does in this 35 track, 1 hour and 14 minute long score!

We begin with Main Theme. It has a techno vibe to it, mixed in with some cool brass. It turns into less of an action, fast paced theme, something I'd expect, and goes for something more mysterious and heroic. It's a surprise to say the least! Whilst the piece isn't incredibly memorable, it has some pretty awesome orchestral riffs! Ghost Stories is a slow and plotting kind of piece. Buckley hasn't jumped the guns, which is something that is quite common in Call Of Duty scores. They're never incredibly complex; more like straightforward action fun! Ghost Stories provides a few nice riffs, but doesn't offer heaps. Rorke Files has a techno percussion beat playing off in the background which shall certainly urge your foot to tap along! It's more of the same, but with some small new riffs here and there. It's certainly not bad, not in the slightest! It just doesn't offer much!

Loki Combat gets the fast paced stuff rolling, and it does it in great fashion! Buckley doesn't succumb to the temptation of throwing loads of percussion in, and instead focuses the piece around some heavy brass and edgy strings. The piece loses it's intensity and speed towards the end for an anticlimactic finish. I sense more to come! Infiltration keeps the intensity up, but leaves more of an emphasis on percussion and small riffs. Buckley mixes the piece up with a variety of melodies, and you never know exactly where the piece wants to go, but it's not the most interesting of pieces. Tower Battle is a little more of a heroic and action filled piece. It has some interesting and powerful riffs thrown in, but the piece lasts a mere 1:15, to my disappointment. Sin City has a refreshing pace and volume. It's a complex piece, and Buckley does try to keep interest high with a variety of melodies and beats. Santa Monica Beach Invasion is an emotional piece, or at least it tries to be. It just doesn't have too much of an impact. It never hits me in the heart, I guess. It's a little off target, despite the obvious effort. Whilst there are impressive moments, I was never marveling at the piece. Computer Hack returns us to the lower volume, and to the quick and short percussion. It's a mysterious and treacherous piece, but it doesn't reach any thing significant. Enemy HQ builds up for a short while, before proceeding with some powerful and intelligent brass and strings. After the first big climax, the piece never seems to go anywhere for the rest of it's running time.

Threnody is a short and dull piece. It doesn't do much at all! Space Suicide is a building sort of piece, which takes it's merry old time to get started! It leaves itself room to build, but it doesn't achieve anything. End Of The Line mixes brass with synth to great effect for the first minute or so. It has some touching moments, but it fails to deliver a decent send off. Severed Ties is a little more aggressive than a lot of our more recent pieces. It doesn't sound like Buckley is really trying to push his orchestra to their limits, unfortunately. It has interesting sounds to it, but it never really gives you a really powerful and loud punch. Despite this, it's more complex and powerful than a lot of our more recent pieces, so I'll mark it up. Clockwork is full of foreign sounds, all appealing to the ear. I'm clenching my fists, waiting for Buckley to launch something that will have me mystified, and the piece hints and teases at something like this a couple of times. It doesn't ever go for it though, to my disappointment. San Diego Burning showcases the piano present, and has some saddening and emotional moments thrown in. I so desperately want Buckley to go for it! To give us some raw power or a little volume! He hasn't so far, but he hints and teases here and there. The final minute delivers a much needed volume step up, but even this isn't enough to save the piece. Atlas Falls leads up and down a couple of times with pace and volume, before some catchy and funky riffs kick in. It doesn't last long, but it's certainly a little bit of fun! Space Enemy throws it's punches quickly, opening up with some powerful beats. It drifts back down, and embarks on a mysterious route. It's volume is a nice change, but the pace is still a little too slow for my liking. Buckley delivers some genius riffs through out the piece, but they never seem to create a solid, full picture, unfortunately.

Odin goes from a more subtle opening, to a touching and heroic rhythm. There are some moments of pure brilliance lying within this piece, and it finally hits a soft chord, to my delight! Gathering Intel sticks to the same background riff the whole way through, a synth based riff, which is quite amusing and catchy. Meanwhile, the rest of the piece has some interesting and complex rhythms flowing in and out. It's well sounding, but it's not remarkable. No Man's Land Battle is a battle piece, obviously, and it covers complex and smart riffs and melodies. Nothing too incredible. Trench Run has a little bit more pace and intensity to it than a lot of our previous pieces have had. It's a little too one dimensional for my liking, and it never feels like Buckley is really letting go, something I've noticed the whole way through. Stealth Kill reflects it's name. It's quiet and mysterious. I find it slightly more suiting than a lot of the score so far, the fact that the name reflects the kind of piece we're going to get. There are some fun and memorable moments laying throughout, but it doesn't have much more to offer. Liberty Wall reminds me that whilst Buckley is inventing new and smart riffs and melodies all throughout the score, he is failing in creating something that feels complete. Every piece up to this point has left me desperately wanting more! Liberty Wall is a reflection of this point, and it never gives enough to keep you satisfied. Maybe that's what he want, I'm not sure. I'm hoping for better things to come.

Brave New World is less dark and brooding than previous pieces, and delivers some more satisfying riffs and beats, whilst keeping the common theme of originality that the rest of the score has composed. Northern Andes Mountains, Venezuela has a sense of urgency to it to begin with. After a short period, it curls back into it's shell, and doesn't try much else for the duration of it's running time. Birds Of Prey is much more aggressive and intense than our predecessor. It is a short piece, but it's certainly one of the more memorable attempts at power. Federation Base has an urgency to it, once again! A little bit of consistency in that area is something I like to see. It doesn't have much variety, but it certainly keeps you interested. The Hunted has a dark and complex melody playing throughout that should have you engaged. It ends quietly and dully. Struck Down has me turning up the volume, as it lays a lot of emphasis on smart percussion. It lasts a short while, but will certainly have you listening in carefully.

Ghost Killer is a mix between touching and dark. It's short running time is fitting, and it doesn't try to do too much. It's satisfying, at least. Train Chase begins with some intensity, and it carries this through the majority of the piece. The brass and strings set a strong pace and beat, which is nice to see! Federation Battle is filled to the brim with complex and fast riffs, and this keeps the piece fresh and vivid. It's the piece I've been wanting the entire score, and I've turned my volume up on full just to embrace it! It's climax is powerful and satisfying, and it's got me appreciating Buckley once again! Legends Never Die is a sad piece. Buckley has certainly been keeping his cards close to his chest, if this is what he can deliver. There are some breathtaking percussion moments littered throughout, and the brass works well to create a mystifying and powerful environment.  It's the longest piece, which earns a big thumbs up from me! Buckley has earned a lot of points back for these past few pieces! Atonement is another touching piece, which earns lots of stars in my books! For a final piece, it's a rewarding one. There are some particularly memorable trumpet riffs placed throughout the piece, and they steal the show for me! Buckley ends us with some soft, yet dark and dangerous sounding music. Satisfying ending!

David Buckley is, in a sense, a musical genius! He has created a consistently smart score, one which embraces originality and certainly isn't a grind to get through. There are some powerful and touching moments throughout, particularly towards the end, which steal the show for me. Despite all of this, there is a point at which the score constantly under delivers. It doesn't satisfy for a good majority of the pieces, and it'll always leave you wanting more. Normally, I'd say that's a good thing, but when it constantly gives you this same feeling, it becomes a little irritating. This aside, Buckley has a great career ahead of him. His composing skills are fairly great, and I can't wait to see what more he can deliver in the future. A solid score!

Loki Combat
Space Enemy
Train Chase
Federation Battle*
Legends Never Die*

Individual Piece Scores:
Main Theme-87
Ghost Stories-79
Rorke Files-78
Loki Combat-90
Tower Battle-82
Sin City-85
Santa Monica Beach Invasion-72
Computer Hack-75
Enemy HQ-89
Space Suicide-66
End Of The Line-74
Severed Ties-80
San Diego Burning-85
Atlas Falls-75
Space Enemy-91
Gathering Intel-86
No Man's Land Battle-78
Trench Run-79
Stealth Kill-86
Liberty Wall-70
Brave New World-85
Northern Andes Mountains, Venezuela-74
Birds Of Prey-88
Federation Base-83
The Hunted-72
Struck Down-85
Ghost Killer-78
Train Chase-94
Federation Battle-100*
Legends Never Die-100*

Junkie Score: 81.74

Here's some stuff relating to me:
My Spotify Account