Call of Duty -Infinite Warfare- Original Soundtrack
Call of Duty -Infinite Warfare- Original Soundtrack
November 4, 2016
Download at Amazon MP3
The announcement that Sarah Schachner was leading the latest Call of Duty title left me surprised and intrigued. Black Ops trilogy aside, most of the series’ titles have been scored by film composers from Remote Control Productions. While Activision seemed content with these composers, their scores generally relied too heavily on blockbuster scoring clichés for my tastes, with Ghosts bringing the series’ music to a nadir. The decision to appoint Schachner, a newcomer to the industry with only one other major credit, was a surprise from a company that usually sticks with tried-and-tested approaches. With Infinite Warfare finally bringing the series to space, they decided they needed a fresh sound to go with it. The end result is Call of Duty’s most interesting score in years, though it’s not without its rocky moments…
The main theme that opens the album captures the whirlwind listening experience provided by Infinite Warfare. Straying from typical Call of Duty conventions, “Anthropic Universe” opens with a whisper rather than a bang — a richly-phrased, beautifully-performed piano and viola duet. All the while, a prolonged string glissando hauntingly shrieks in the background, hinting at an avant-garde ambition for the score. After this creatively promising opening, the theme shifts into regular blockbuster territory at 0:53; the sombre yet heroic orchestration draws heavily on military tropes, while the blaring percussion is taken straight from a sample library. But just as the score seemed to lose its identity, the second half of the track drops these elements and shifts into a pensive electronic soundscape blending classic sci-fi influences with modern production values. The end result is a complex composition that captures the various elements of Infinite Warfare while generally satisfying as a stand-alone listening experience.
Throughout this soundtrack, Schachner blends together diverse forces to create enormous timbres. Befitting its name, “Rising Threat” slowly increases in intensity during its 5:35 playtime as cinematic suspensions, electronic parts, and militaristic instruments are gradually introduced. While a slow-burner, it is structured in such a way that it sustains interest throughout its development. In “Titan”, Schachner borrows scoring techniques from sci-fi, military, and horror scores, as well as some hints of the main theme. The resultant soundscapes prove fascinating in and out of context. Towards the climax of the score, “Rogue Asteroid” and “Dark Quarry” blend spacey horror orchestration with groovy vintage synthesizers. They shouldn’t work, but absolutely do under Schachner’s scribe. The artist also introduces occasional breaks into the action, notably with “Peace to the Fallen” and “The Retribution”, both of which feature heartrending string performances above moody electronic backdrops.
At its core, Infinite Warfare is still a Call of Duty score for better or worse. We’re reminded of this with more typical tracks on the album, which range in quality from enjoyable action anthems such as “Operation Black Flag” and “Rally Point” to stale tension cues like “Black Sky” and”Safe Harbor”. Schachner ensures that even the most generic tracks on the album are generously orchestrated and recorded, putting them a step ahead of those of the Remote Control titles, but they’re still likely to tire seasoned soundtrack listeners. This exacerbates a more general problem: Infinite Warfare‘s individual highlights are much more enjoyable than the collective experience. The unrelenting intensity of the music, lack of a strong dramatic arch, and a slew of short, unremarkable tracks means the soundtrack often bores in its second half. Schachner has also provided insufficient threads to bind the stand-alone experience together; the main theme is used relatively sparingly during the score and the final tracks, while musically ingenious, hardly feel climactic.
For all its problems, Infinite Warfare‘s soundtrack does impress when Schachner in all-out experimentation mode. I’ll use my experiences with “Olympus Mons” as an example. On downloading the album, I knew I had to check this one out — after all, how could a track dedicated to a giant Martian volcano disappoint (it was only later that I learned that actually refers to an in-game spaceship)? But regardless, it’s still incredible. The first minute creates a timbre that is literally spine-tingling (for me at least) by juxtaposing tremolo strings suspensions with otherworldly electronic pulses. At the minute mark, the composition shifts into all-out space horror as a razor-sharp string ostinato cuts underneath at incredible pace. All this is accentuated by the irregular metre and dissonant harmonisation of the piece. The brief generic detour at 1:57 aside, the composition keeps on surprising listeners. In fact, it’s the most engaging piece of dissonant orchestration I’ve heard in a game since Dead Space 3‘s “Moon Crash”.
The soundtrack for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare gives the series’ music a much-needed refresh. Schachner managed to capture the concept of a space-based Call of Duty while also showcasing her flair for experimental hybrid scoring. While the 106-minute soundtrack features plenty of standout tracks, foremost among them “Anthropic Universe”, “Olympus Mons”, and “Rogue Asteroid”, it proves a tiresome collective experience due to various limitations. The soundtrack is available digitally for 10 USD (with amazing cover art to boot) and will be coming to vinyl later this year.
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Posted on January 9, 2017 by Chris Greening. Last modified on January 9, 2017.