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World of Warcraft Wrath of the Lich King Physical Soundtrack :: Review by Steven

World of Warcraft Wrath of the Lich King Physical Soundtrack Album Title: World of Warcraft Wrath of the Lich King Physical Soundtrack
Record Label: Blizzard Entertainment
Catalog No.: S2210331
Release Date: November 13, 2008
Purchase: Buy at eBay


World of Warcraft fans picking up Blizzard Entertainment's special collector's edition of the latest installment in the series will get a special surprise among many: a lengthy presentation of the music. Perhaps among one of many engaging aspects of the game itself, the score for World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King will enthrall any fan of epic fantasy music conceived here in a truly cinematic scale.


There is something quite ethereal in the opening bars of the game's main title sequence, but soon this moves in to a larger orchestral battle music sequence with a semi-anvil sound and choral statements that recalls the music of Poledouris' Conan scores crossed with a little Lord of the Rings music. This opening track and "Arthas, My Son" were recorded with the Northwest Sinfonia and Chorus and it brings a real large-scale depth and cinematic quality to the music as it appears here in a grandiose and extensive track of tone poem proportions. "Arthas, My Son", in particular, has that same sort of fantasy world quality of the opening music writ large with an exciting choral section driving things ever onward.

"Dragon's Rest" is sandwiched in between these and, features a more recessed orchestra against an almost classical piano solo with post-romantic undertones that create together a rather unsettling atmosphere. There are many beautiful moments in the score beyond these, with highlights certainly being "Crystalsong" and "Garden of Life". The musical ideas here are laid out simply and gradually gain in their emotional power as various ideas are added into the texture. They make for moments of gentle repose in the surrounding terror or battle sequences that emphasize a different sort of "power".

By adding live ethnic instruments into the orchestral textures in the remaining score, the composing team is able to maintain a level of connectedness that stands out against often beautiful ambient and electronic musical textures. Woodwind writing takes a momentary forward stage in "Forged in Blood" before ambient sound and epic chorus and gorgeous melodic ideas take over. "Mountains of Thunder" is also fascinating for the way it offers gorgeous woodwind and choral leads against very dark and sparse orchestration. The result is highly atmospheric in the game.

Throughout the score, individual thematic ideas tend to get laid out against often detailed, and at times highly-chromatic, accompaniments. The cadences into rich harmonic conclusions make these moments highly satisfying listening experiences and even here a beautiful flute idea helps transition into yet another segment of epic music. As the score progresses, things tend to become more diffuse with individual sounds, richly recorded, stating thematic threads against various percussion sounds or ambient ideas that create a rather unsettling feel, for example in "The Culling" and "Totems of the Grizzlemaw". This perfectly offsets the larger orchestrally-conceived segments of the score and lends variety to the score as a listening experience.

This physical release features a number of exclusives that were replaced on its digital counterpart, namely "Secrets Long Forgotten", "Borean Tundra", and "The Wrath Gate". The first two tracks have a very understated ambient feel to them that is effective within the game, though there are somewhat more fascinating tracks like these elsewhere on the soundtrack. More satisfying is "The Wrath Gate", a climactic orchestral and choral piece that ties together some of the thematic threads in the album. It is a little disjointed due to its use in a cinematic sequence, but it nevertheless forms a satisfying whole with all its brutal action sequences and brooding ambient interludes.


Overall, the World of Warcraft: Wrath of Lich King soundtrack is a satisfying collective listen. The material tends to smoothly move from one track to the next, perhaps due to this extremely generous playing time. Anyone who hungers for expansive fantasy soundscapes and epic music making with a touch of ethnic music, often of a Celtic quality, will find much to truly enjoy throughout this amazing release. Fans who find the larger collector's edition will be able to discover this score as one of the highlights of that package. However, some may wish to supplement it with the additional three tracks featured on the digital release.

Overall Score: 8/10