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Command & Conquer Red Alert 3 Music Disc :: Review by Chris

Command & Conquer Red Alert 3 Music Disc Album Title: Command & Conquer Red Alert 3 Music Disc
Record Label: Electronic Arts
Catalog No.: Promotional
Release Date: October 28, 2008
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 revived the enormously popular Red Alert franchise after a seven year absence. Electronic Arts went all-out with the music for the game, bringing back cult icon Frank Klepacki to the series, while letting Tim Wynn and James Hannigan handle the more serious material. The resultant soundtrack was probably the most diverse of the series, blending the series' characteristic hard rock focus with modern cinematic orchestration, dramatic gothic choruses, traditional Japanese influences, occasional electronic beats, and even some exceptional novelties. A one disc soundtrack was released with the Premier Edition of the game, which this review will focus on, though a two disc commercial release was intended for 2009.


One of the big draws of Red Alert 3 was the return of Frank Klepacki to the series. While he only contributes a few tracks, they're each very memorable and entertaining. "Hell March 3" is the most over-the-top rendition of the series' iconic theme, blending orchestral, choral, and electronic elements with Klepacki's own hard rock guitar work. The result is so strange and addictive, though note that the live interpretation at Games in Concert 3 was even better. "Grinder 2" is a complete transformation of the Red Alert 2 original with its epic orchestral and Russian chorus elements. They work wonderfully with the remaining rhythm guitar riffs and electronic elements to create a more vicious theme than ever. For the expansion Uprising, Klepacki also contributed the original composition "The Red Menace". It's essentially a hard-edged electric guitar solo punctuated by a few choir chants. It's made interesting by the virtuosic guitar performance, particularly how Klepacki rapidly repeats several bass notes. The original "Hell March" also receives a punk-influenced cover by the American band From First to Last. It doesn't quite have Klepacki's individuality, but is still a solid take.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the soundtrack is how it contrasts the combat music for the three factions. The representations are all ridiculously stereotypical, but this has always been part of Red Alert's humorous charm. Wynn's "For Mother Russia" an "Russian Retreat" are certain brutal depictions of the Soviet Faction; they're dominated by hard-edged rhythm guitar riffs, though also feature dark gothic interludes featuring orchestral and choral elements. The allied combat themes, on the other hand, take an American-punk approach. "Shock and Awe" instantly creates an upbeat feel with its choice of power chords whereas "How the West was Won" is a melodic gem. For the Empire Faction, Hannigan's "The Empire Has Risen" use guitar riffs more inspired by modern J-Rock. The distinction from the other themes is initially quite subtle, but the tracks become increasingly hybridised with big beat elements to spectacular effect in the game. There are naturally plenty of other rocking action cues on the score too and each is carefully individualised to match the on-screen context while being quite entertaining on their own too.

James Hannigan's "Soviet March" couldn't be more of a contrast with "Hell March 3". It's a nationalistic march featuring a Russian choir performance against bright and colourful orchestration. It sounds very much like a parody of the Soviet national anthem, particularly with the folk dance rhythms, though is surprisingly elaborate too. "The Big Apple" is a surprise among the otherwise edgy exploration themes. It's very modern and soothing with its blend of jazz, hip-hop, and electronic features, but exquisitely put together by Wynn regardless. Other novelties include the country jam "American Cowboys" and the traditional Japanese instrumentation of "The Rising Sun is Setting". Mikael Sandgren's sole contribution is the end credits theme. It's written very much in the style of Frank Klepacki with epic chorus chants and grungy guitar riffs. However, there is plenty of variety during the 2:28 playtime with sections inspired by each faction. There is also an exclusive rendition of "The Red March" by From First to Last at the end of the album.


The four-way collaboration clearly worked out as each composer brought high quality and individualistic contributions to the score. Frank Klepacki produces the most vibrant versions of two of his classic themes at the start of the soundtrack. James Hannigan stunning blends oriental instrumentation with conventional orchestral and rock influences. Even Mikael Sandgren offers a definitive highlight during the staff roll. Yet it is certainly sound director Tim Wynn that stands out as the brightest talent with his refreshing orchestrations and surprising fusions. When all the contributions are combined, listeners are guaranteed an especially diverse yet somehow cohesive listen that easily stands up among the best of the Command & Conquer series. While the Premier Edition soundtrack is a good compilation of music for the game, passionate listeners should consider downloading the full two disc score instead, where the music is really given the opportunity to breathe and develop. Either way, the Red Alert 3 soundtrack should offer something to entertain pretty much anyone out there so comes highly recommended.

Overall Score: 8/10