Call of Duty -Advanced Warfare- Soundtrack
Call of Duty -Advanced Warfare- Soundtrack
November 4, 2014
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Call of Duty music has always been big and bombastic from the original series to the Modern Warfare installments. Game music fans are in for an intense experience listening to the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Soundtrack. Cinema fans will appreciate the ‘movie trailer’ vibe and nearly perfect production value that both composers Harry Gregson-Williams and Audiomachine create. The electro-orchestal vibe of the previously released Call of Duty: Ghosts is continued by composers Gregson-Williams and Audiomachine without missing a beat.
This soundtrack is loud and will demand your attention as a stand-alone experience as well as background music equally. Cinema and game music fans will enjoy the heavy impacts, pulsing synth riffs and triumphant horn licks. A keen listener will notice various instruments throughout the soundtrack that provide this soundtrack with a mix of sounds and textures, maybe even reminding some listeners of diverse cultures. That is not to say that the composers, Harry Gregson-Williams and Audiomachine do not slow things down and add an expressive touch to some of the music.
The opening track, “Advanced Soldier Overture” acts as a brilliant opening to the soundtrack and a perfect credit reel track. The track has a somewhat sensitive, grandiose section about 2 minutes into the piece. The strings are featured in a soliloquy for just a moment before the percussion and horns add accents and a sturdy foundation for the longing melodies. The build up towards the end of the track is energetic, but still reserved, maintaining the grandiose style melodies and harmonies. Although the “Advanced Soldier Overture” does not contain melodies from the entire soundtrack, it sets a mood that will be touched on in nearly every track, both by Audiomachine and Gregson-Williams, with “Your Wars Don’t Work” and “Preemptive Strike” among those tracks with a similar mod.
Both composers captured the iconic Call of Duty sound in their own way. Some listeners might enjoy the gritty noise that Audiomachine creates, while others may enjoy the orchestral textures Gregson-Williams composes. I really enjoyed Audiomachine’s use of electronic sounds and textures that are blended well with aggressive percussion rhythms and effected orchestral instruments in “Draconian Dream”. This track is one of my favorite tracks on the soundtrack as it is energetic, fast paced, and filled with sounds to get you in the mood to take down threatening forces in the game. This track is typical of the style featured in AAA games, not to mention previous Call of Duty soundtracks, particularly tracks composed by Hans Zimmer for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. “New Baghdad” is another track that uses effected percussion and distorted noises to portray the tense conflict at hand. The rhythms are pulsing and syncopated while the impacts are heavy and dark. “New Baghdad” simply reeks of impending doom as it bubbles at a moderate tempo and dynamic level.
Among the softer tracks, “Eulogy For a Friend” is simply sad, mournful and portrays a feeling of emptiness. The piano and strings are blended well, with the piano melody floated gently on top. The horns that pick up where the piano leaves off creates a warm tone as the strings crescendo. A single bass drum roll remains quiet and signals the end of the piece. “Eulogy For a Friend”, written by Harry Gregson-Williams, is somber and contrasts well with the more militaristic style pieces he composed. “A Glass Would Be A Start” is a much calmer piece of music that remains reserved until the build up towards the end. The low brass parts signal dark undertones in the story, while the string and piano interlude gives listeners a sense of hope. The slower sections of this soundtrack are dramatic and set the music up perfectly for more ominous impacts and accented hits.
There are many tracks that simply remind me of Jonathan Irons, voiced by actor Kevin Spacey. His calm but menacing glare is characterized in tracks like “Betrayal”. Slow moving, with a steady build that ends abruptly, much like the rise and fall of Irons. “Old Town” is another example of a calm but intense track with enough percussion to support the melodies that float in and out of the piece. The ominous bass drum sounds mixed with distorted electronic noises will prepare you to take down Irons at any cost. I can almost see Irons cold stare while listening to “Old Town” or even “Black Box”, both composed by Audiomachine.
The build-up moments that Audiomachine creates are exciting and incredibly dramatic. “Collapse” has an impact right in the beginning that will take an unprepared listener by surprise. The effected percussion impacts in the opening of the track sound like they are far away, and seem to get closer and closer until the main riff hits at about 29 seconds in. There are many layers of percussion and electronic instruments that fill space, creating a loud and tense atmosphere. The piece continues to build, ramping up the energy and volume until the bottom drops out at a minute and 9 seconds. The effected drum sounds close the piece and seem to be far away again as if sounded in the distance.
Audiomachine’s style is distinct and certainly makes a statement on this soundtrack, but that is not to say that Gregson-Williams does not make his mark on video game music with his soaring string licks and militaristic horn parts. Gregson-Williams’ electronic instruments parts give Audiomachine a run for his money with “Not Our Problem”. The pulsing synth-bass riffs are reminiscent of Audiomachine’s dark electronic style of composition. “Traffic Jam”, also written by Gregson-Williams, contains dark pulsing rhythms much like Audiomachine’s “Draconian Dream”, but with more recognizable orchestral instruments. I love how “Traffic Jam” seems to travel at a fast pace. It makes me feel like I am dodging enemy fire and risking life and limb to take down hostile forces. Like I mentioned before, not every track is an intense and action packed event.
The production value and intense drum sounds are not the only appealing aspect of this soundtrack. “Old Town”, written by Audiomachine, provides music fans with a time change that would be difficult for any trained musician to recreate in a live setting. The music starts out with pulsing drums and layers of electronic noise that acts as background. But at 2 minutes and 20 seconds in, the tempo seems to slow down, and a hemiola pattern is created during the new groove, depending on how you are counting your quarter notes. Music fans and musicians alike will get a kick out of this complex rhythmic technique and hopefully mirror it in future works. I love to see this kind of technical precision in game music, as it helps prove the point that video game music is a viable source of quality music and entertainment.
I really enjoyed the Eastern influences listening to “Exit Ride” and “Manhunt”. Gregson-Williams fuses Western orchestral instruments and sounds with Eastern sounding string and wind instruments. The diverse instruments break the electro-orchestral style to avoid fatigue for the listener. The mix of cultural influences works to personify Iron’s Western militaristic beliefs in a foreign land. I would have liked to hear more diverse instruments during the campaigns and missions in Eastern inspired territories, such as heard in “Carrier” with a Japanese style flute. This track is short, however, and I would have enjoyed a ‘koto’ style string lick to contrast with the Western orchestral string parts. Some listeners may argue that the tracks are repetitive and build in very similar ways. The addition of Eastern influence could have also been more prominent as most of the game took place in Middle-Eastern or Asian inspired territories.
Another of Gregson-Williams’ more noble sounding tracks, “We Are Atlas” carries many connotations in the context of the game. However, as a stand-alone experience this track might just make listeners smile for a second. The bright string melodies are relaxed, dynamic and expressive. The choir style vocals are barely heard but add a strong foundation for the big brass sound, with trumpet floated brilliantly on top of the mix. If it were not for pieces like “We Are Atlas”, some listeners might get fatigued from the barrage of percussion and distorted electronic sounds.
Whether you are a fan of big explosive drums or triumphant sounding horn parts, the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Soundtrack has something up its sleeve for you. Most tracks are not terribly lengthy and climax quickly, so it’s not always the perfect stand-alone extreme. However, Gregson-Williams and Audiomachine’s style match each other in intensity, while still sounding unique. Gregson-Williams’ use of orchestral instruments breaks up the electronic sounds Audiomachine implements into the soundtrack. Although the tracks do not develop as much as in some previous Call of Duty soundtracks, Advanced Warfare is recommended for those who enjoy the blockbuster cinematic sound.
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Posted on April 11, 2015 by Marc Chait. Last modified on January 9, 2017.