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Soundtrack review: World of Warcraft – Battle for Azeroth (various artists – 2018)

Game scores

Soundtrack review: World of Warcraft – Battle for Azeroth (various artists – 2018)

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“World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth” is the seventh expansion pack for the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) World of Warcraft, following Legion. It was announced at BlizzCon on November 3, 2017. In contrast to previous expansions, which went live at midnight in each time zone, Battle for Azeroth had a simultaneous release for all regions, corresponding to midnight Central European Summer Time on August 14, 2018. At the end of Legion, the titan Sargeras was imprisoned, but not before he plunged his sword into the planet Azeroth. This not only devastated a massive area (much of the desert zone of Silithus is now cracked and scorched), but badly wounded the gestating titan inside. While the heroes managed to ablate the worst of the damage (at the cost of the majority of their artifact weapons’ mythic power), the world is still wounded and bleeding a substance called “Azerite,” which has great magical potential. A new war begins.

The music of the “World of Warcraft” franchise has been spectacular and I have reviewed every score so far; as the games got bigger, so did the budget for the scores which are full orchestral and simply a joy to listen to. As always, the team of composers included game music greats like Glenn Stafford, Neal Acree, Sam Cardon, Clint Bajakian, David Arkenstone and Jason Hayes and I am just trembling with anticipation for the massive opening theme “Before the storm”. I have a big knot in my stomach as if I’m about to jump from a great height. The music opens with a thunder and builds up from there with choirs, epic orchestral joy and goosebumps inducing motifs. The drama is there right from the start and I just feel inspired and motivated and I want to add this particular cue to my running playlists. Heroism, sacrifice, coming together, everything clicks in this theme. Then there are the melodies which can go right up there with the epics of the Golden Age of film music. I can honestly say that there aren’t many movies this day that can conjure this kind of majestic on their scores. This is action music at it’s peak.

After the storm come the quieter cues as well which as nothing short of purely immersive, descriptive of the landscapes that host there battles. They represent just breaks in the epic flow of this score as the armies and their choirs return with a vengeance. I simply feel delight when I hear a magnificent piece like “Pride of the seas” with it’s positive, space opera like string and horn sections. A cue like this could proudly sit on a Star Trek score. I just feel the need to hear it louder and louder and just feed from this positive and motivational energy.

As the score progresses highlighting particular cues becomes pointless as the entire musical world of this game is exceptional and no matter what your poison might be, emotional music, epic music, inspirational music, melodies, choruses, light, darkness, hope, terror, you will find it among these almost two hours filled to the brim with the best that orchestral music can offer. There are ethnic cues for the location, thundering pieces for the fight scenes and even Gothic passages like “Waycret’s curse” and quiet, reflective cues such as “Stormsong Valley”.The composers made sure that no matter the tone the cues are just as spectacular.

The “World of Warcraft” scores continue to be some of the best in the business. This franchise never fails to impress and every expansion of the game does the same for the musical tapestry. With two hours of this each year, I am happy.

Cue rating: 91 / 100

Highlights:
Before the Storm
Pride of the Seas
Time & Tide
The Power of Blood
Stormsong Valley
Enmity
Heart of Sethraliss
Uncharted Islands
Crimson Forest
A Good War
Return to Arms

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Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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