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

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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

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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

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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

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