Halo -Spartan Strike- Original Soundtrack

Halo_Spartan_Strike Album Title:
Halo -Spartan Strike- Original Soundtrack
Record Label:
343 Industries
Catalog No.:
Release Date:
April 16, 2015
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Halo: Spartan Strike, released by Microsoft Studios in April of this year, came with a score by award-winning composer Tom Salta of Halo Anniversary, Ghost Recon, and Red Steel fame. Because the game was designed to be played on various cell phone operating systems,  Salta was presented with the challenge of choosing and designing instrumentation and orchestration that would work on such restrictive speakers. The collection of music is lengthy in numbers but average in time per track, but Salta is able to create a beautiful sound in many of the pieces on the album.


Salta hits the mark with the opening track of the album, “Spartan Strike.” The main theme is surprisingly animated, but it works well for the game, and although the whole album frequently takes different approaches from the theme, Salta maintains a constant mood. Salta uses a rhythmic motif in “Spartan Strike” based on several series of three notes each (although he uses eighth notes, not triplets, in the common time piece). Octaves and chords are more emphasized than melody lines, which gives the opening track an otherworldly feel — for a piece with a relatively absent melody line (or perhaps an absurdly simple one), it’s strangely catchy. Sometimes when listening to an album, it isn’t until several tracks in that I find a piece that really captivates me. With Spartan Strike, I was immediately hooked.

The theme is simple enough to be easily repeated in several tracks throughout the score, like in “With her Whisper ,”  the second track of the album and the second track to bring back the main theme. A shifty electronic pulse provides a constant bassline while soft female vocals layer themselves one by one across a dissonant chord, ultimately growing too large to easily pin down all — or any — of the notes. As the piece continue, certain notes enter and fade away, and some familiar strings return to repeat snippets of the main theme, while the electronic pulses seem to gain and lose power depending entirely on the number of the other instruments playing. “Careful Steps” uses piano, strings, and percussion – all equally light – and the theme appears unexpectedly towards the second half of the track, after the main iteration of notes has repeated itself a few times.  “Rapid Recon” is about as ominous as the score gets — at least in the beginning, as the opening notes creep their way up the first five notes (minus one) of a basic minor scale. The simple theme returns here in sharp, staccato strings as the ominous notes wander aimlessly in the alto and bass. Like so many other tracks in the score, while the piece’s direction isn’t entirely clear, it’s pleasant to listen to.

Salta creates a fascinating musical world in the score that combines elements of ambiance, minimalism, and a massive variety of musical techniques for an interesting effect. Albums like this can frequently fall into a kind of monotony, but Salta manages splashes of color in his score. Piano is used prominently in several of the tracks, like “Careful Steps.” “Mombasa Arrival” is another such example, featuring a soft piano revolving around one repeated note, and several two-chord series , with a very occasional third chord. No other instrument is used for the majority of the track, but Salta does incorporate a synthesized wind sound to give the piece a futuristic vibe, and light strings to accent the last part of the song.

Strings bring yet another authentic dimension to the electronic album — Salta’s exercise in blending electronics and acoustics in this album is extremely well executed for the most part. “Epic Evolution Reborn” is a shimmery string piece with strange synth water-and-insect sounds to give the piece a nighttime-in-the-forest feel.  The electronics are certainly present, but they seem to be more of a prominent backdrop to the strings than anything else. The strings drop down to cello but the glistening timbre doesn’t change. “Homeworld Bound” opens similarly, but morphs into a more casual, electronic track: the strings don’t vanish, but instead fade into the background, much like the electronics in “Epic” seemed to do.  “Plan of Attack” takes a completely different approach; it has a delightful, bouncy string pattern, using disconnected dotted notes to keep the piece consistently spritely. Even when the electronic sounds actually enter, the piece does not stop moving, and builds and recedes smoothly from beginning to end.

Salta’s use of choir in Halo is simultaneously gentle and effective. “Just Beyond” is a full choral track, but a sort of muted one — it’s not overbearing, and yet it’s still resolute. Enough individual vocals stand out in the choir to make it sound less grandiose and more rustic, even Celtic in a subtle way. “Origin and Time” uses a much more mellow choir, backed by wooden percussion and eventually a drumset that brings the choir out of its church in “Just Beyond” and pushes it into the more futuristic and unexplored terrain of Halo. “Force Multiplayer” contains perhaps the most dramatic use of choir in the score, along with a spattering of strings and electronics. The entire piece seems to be one giant suspension, never really resolving, and continuously maintaining tension through either notes or restless movement, even through the ending.

If there is one piece I like more than the opening, it’s the closing “Spartan Strike Reflection Mix,” which is essentially a remastering of the first track on the album. I can’t decide which one I prefer, although “Reflection Mix” seems to kind of blur the sounds more than the original. It’s synthetic, and feels more screened – for lack of a better word – at times, but I love it.  It works. Moreover, I like that this album ended on the same high note it started, regardless of how subtle the difference is.


Salta is not afraid to mix techniques in Halo: Spartan Strike. Every track incorporates its fair share of ambient electronics (often doubling as the percussion). The low point on the score for me are the filler tracks that use only these techniques without any outside instruments.  The album overall is varied and interesting, but too many of the pieces lack direction for the album to be really spectacular. Instead, the soundtrack is good, with bright instrumentation and some wonderful high points.

Halo -Spartan Strike- Original Soundtrack Emily McMillan

Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!


Posted on June 8, 2015 by Emily McMillan. Last modified on June 8, 2015.

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About the Author

A native and lifelong Texan, I currently work in software education while contributing news, reviews, and interviews to VGMO on the side. I love the feeling that comes with the discovery of a brand new soundtrack, and always look forward to the next rekindling of that excitement. Outside of VGMO, I enjoy playing piano, listening to classical music and film scores, and trying to go unnoticed in any stealth RPG I can find.

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