Call of Duty -World at War- Original Soundtrack
Call of Duty -World at War- Original Soundtrack
November 11, 2008
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Call of Duty: World at War took the player back to the era of World War II once more, but with a number of enhancements from the original Call of Duty series: new features and weapons, a perspective on two theaters, and the series’ first ever zombie mode. In addition, Treyarch selected veteran film composer Sean Murray to score the soundtrack, following their collaborations with him on the True Crime series previously. The composer offers a number of features to reflect the setting of the game, but deviates from the stereotypical approach of the original Call of Duty franchise to expose his own dark hybridised approach.
The soundtrack opens with the theme for the US Campaign. The opening soundscapes reflect the fearsome enemy with shrieking strings and wailing woodwinds. The track thereafter develops in a more typical war anthem with heroic brass melodies performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic. However, the subsequent turbulent development and contemporary guitar laces ensure that it is still a rich and multifaceted listen. It’s not quite as creative as his work on Call of Duty: Black Ops, but it introduces the Pacific Theater effectively while taking some artistic liberties. The American influence of the soundtrack is further explored with the heroic depiction of Roebuck, providing one of the melodic highlights of the entire series.
Sean Murray depicts the Eastern Theater of the title with several major orchestra and chorus cues. The belated opening theme of the soundtrack release introduces a central motif that underlaces the rest of the score. It is explored further in “Trenches Long”, which suitably depicts the brutality of trench warfare, while offering plenty of substance on a stand-alone basis. “Russians” meanwhile is a striking theme that represents the character of Chervok in a stereotypical yet effective manner. The patriotic chorus of this track inspires memories of the Soviet anthem, while the bold brass melodies further enhance this portrayal. Unfortunately, relatively few other tracks on the score compare to this one in terms of length and memorability.
On “Guerilla”, Murray depicts the intense nature and tropical setting of this Pacific Theater. Interestingly, he incorporates traditional Japanese instruments, specifically the shakuhachi and taiko, within a Westernised horror-influenced ambient soundscape. It’s not particularly authentic in its approach, but the resultant timbres are fascinating and the polyrhythms are exciting. There are also a succession of themes used to accompany scenes of tension and action on the islands of Okinawa and Peleliu, though most are too short to be of stand-alone interest. Later in the experience, Murray also doesn’t hesitate to depict the malevolence of Nazi Germany with bellowing chorus and suspenseful percussion, while also reviving the underlacing motif in “Bold Men”.
Among more contemporary offerings, “Hell’s Gate” is also an outstanding track both in the game and soundtrack. An extended mix of the theme heard in the game’s zombie mode, the electric guitar is introduced here which plays an immersive melody in conjunction with various brooding electronic tones. While most of the short cues on the soundtrack are unremarkable, “Fountain” is also worth noting as it is a very short and simple yet beautiful vocal track. It’s not one of the most memorable themes of the series, from a melodic perspective, yet Murray makes up for this with his potent scoring approach. Finally, “Dog Fire” ends the soundtrack on a distinctive note with its blend of vocal, orchestral, and electronic influences, and is expertly mixed like Murray’s other offerings to the score.
On Call of Duty: World of War, Murray combined familiar staples to represent the nations and theaters featured in the game, with more personal touches inspired by contemporary and horror music. The resultant fusions are often somewhat abstract in the game, yet still create the desired mood and are often very impacting on a stand-alone level. Unfortunately, the album release is hampered by an abundance of short tracks and a lack of major themes, and could have been significantly condensed for artistic purposes. It was only available for promotional purposes anyway and, like most other scores in the series, was never made commercially available. Those wishing to see Murray offer a more elaborate and experimental soundtrack should purchase the music for Call of Duty: Black Ops instead.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Harris Iqbal. Last modified on August 1, 2012.