Knights of Honor Original Soundtrack
Knights of Honor Original Soundtrack
Black Sea Studios
October 1, 2004
Buy Used Copy
In 2004, Bulgarian developer Black Sea Studios released their first title, the real-time strategy game Knights of Honor. Composer Borislav Slavov made his professional debut on this game, leading to his assignments to scores such as WorldShift and Risen. Proud of the results, he released the score to the game for promotional purposes.
Like most of Borislav Slavov’s soundtracks, Knights of Honor blends aspects of cinematic tradition with world music elements. The opening theme, “Sword & Faith”, is an excellent example of these fusions. It opens like a typical fantasy score with playful woodwinds and Elfman-esque chimes, before evolving into a bright militaristic march to convey the strength and honour of the knights. The track ends with a medieval folk dance that gradually becomes more triumphant as brass elements once again predominate. Combining compositional and technical virtues, it’s an encompassing entry to the soundtrack and an impressive professional debut for Slavov.
Among the slower tracks, “Lost Battle (New Beginning)” captures a sense of a new dawn with its string-based cinematic opening. The centre of the track, however, is a folk tune that captures medieval life perfectly. “Bard’s Tale” is another personal favourite of mine and features a delightful sense of lyricism. It’s interesting how certain parts of this mostly dainty composition have slightly more weight and drama to them. “Castle Dance” features further elegant use of medieval instruments, focusing on a gorgeous recorder performance against harpsichord continuo. It’s yet another top-notch track from stand-alone and contextual purposes alike.
The soundtrack also features some of Slavov’s experiments in ethnomusicology. One of the deeper tracks, “Handful of Sorrow” refreshingly deviates from the typical balladic cliché with its rich ethnic palette. The similarly exquisite “Echo in Eternity” uses exotic panflutes and rustic guitars to more scenic effect. The track is also among those that integrates the main theme, helping to establish continuity during the gameplay and listening experience. Characteristic of Slavov’s work, the soundtrack also features an entry featuring the tonalities and instruments of Persia, “Desert Flavours”. It’s amazing how he manages to express so much in this theme despite continually repeating the same main motifs.
Finally, there are a range of faster-paced tracks written in the style of an action movie. One of the most notable examples is “Pride of Pain”, which blends infectious string riffs with anthemic brass melodies to epic effect. Some parts of this ever-evolving four minute track have the feeling of a folk dance, while others resemble an epic march and yet others a dark cinematic cue. The final result is fantastic and will keep surprising listeners. Among the other notable action themes are the cheerful “First Battle” and suspenseful “Vulture’s Lair”, which befit their in-game use perfectly. Finally, “March of Honor” is a rousing march that flawlessly captures the era and characters.
Knights of Honor is an excellent debut score from Borislav Slavov, and the one that best reflects his personality. There is no doubt that the composer made the music so that it fits the time of majestic kings and noble knights. However, his approach is so exuberant and diverse throughout that this his music is worthwhile on a stand-alone level too. Overall, a beautiful and brave remnant of medieval times.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Harris Iqbal. Last modified on August 1, 2012.