Kingdoms of Amalur -Reckoning- The Soundtrack

Kingdoms of Amalur -Reckoning- The Soundtrack Album Title:
Kingdoms of Amalur -Reckoning- The Soundtrack
Record Label:
Sumthing Else Music Works
Catalog No.:
SE-3018-2
Release Date:
February 7, 2012
Purchase:
Buy at Amazon | Download at iTunes

Overview

The first game by fledgling developers 38 Studios, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning had some hefty names behind it during its lengthy development, which finally culminated in a release in February 2012. Composer Grant Kirkhope led the scoring for this title, his first since leaving Rareware in 2008. Primarily known for the cutesy yet complex scores for Rareware’s charming platformers, and for the calming, melodically stimulating scores for their Viva Piñata series, how does his latest, darkest work fare?

Body

The soundtrack begins, appropriately enough, with “Reckoning Main Theme,” a piece that excellently combines Grant Kirkhope’s whimsical tones with a sweeping orchestral vista. The theme is short and simple in its melodic scope, but catchy, and used to great effect throughout the score. The first few tracks all hearken back to this theme in some way amongst some mood setting chords that ease the listener into the music, until culminating with “Troll,” the first of Kirkhope’s many frantic boss battle themes to be featured. These themes are easily the highlight of the album, and represent a mature, darker take on what most might recall fondly from Donkey Kong 64‘s boss battles and mine cart sections. And while the whimsical tone is less apparent here, the fantastic orchestration more than makes up for it. The aforementioned “Troll” is thick and heavy, with beating drums and layers of brass to really drive the magnitude of the battle home. Similar sentiments can be expressed for “Niskaru,” a theme that is more frantic and fast paced.

There’s plenty of quality material here that is somewhat more reminiscent of the composer’s older works. The gently soothing “Dalentarth” is one such example, bringing to mind some of Donkey Kong 64‘s areas such as its ice caves, thanks to the former’s light harp and glockenspiel serving to create an atmosphere that hides quite a pleasant melody, whereas the graceful strings introducing “The Plains of Erathell” serve as a pleasant reminder of the world of Viva Piñata, albeit with darker undertones. Not all of these lengthy area pieces are spectacular, however. “Klurikon,” while dark and moody, doesn’t do much else, the sparse melody serving mostly for a decently enjoyable atmospheric piece. “Alabastra” is defined by moments of plodding boredom with light strings interspersed with perfectly placed usages of the main theme, to balance the track out.

“Fight!” holds no surprises given its title, and it is quite enjoyable and rousing, yet it is not quite as melodically strong as “Conflict,” which utilizes hints of the game’s main theme, along with chord progressions that are unmistakably Kirkhope. The best battle themes come at the end however. “Gadflow” features an irresistible motif that is handled quite capably, with frenetic, fantastic orchestration all around, and “Tirnoch” is perfectly climactic, meshing the main theme in a pumping performance from The City of Prague Philharmonic that is sure to thrill the listener. Throughout the album are found quite a large number of short pieces, under a minute in length, ranging from brief atmospheric cues, for example “Well of Souls”, to rather enjoyable event pieces. Highlights include the whimsical “House of Ballads” and “Scholia Arcana,” the soft “Gardens of Ysa,” and the over-too-soon “House of Sorrows.” While I would love to see these pieces as full length, they hold a charm of their own in their shortened length, and seem to be the grounds for a bit more experimentation.

Summary

This is not as easily accessible or as universally enjoyable as Grant Kirkhope’s recent work on the Viva Piñata series, but it certainly was not meant to be, considering the dark undertones and frantic, exciting compositions. This is exactly as could be expected from the composer, exercising creative freedom in a style never heard from him before, at least not with a full orchestra, and it is fantastic. Anyone who has enjoyed the composer’s earlier efforts will adore this soundtrack. To those who enjoyed the aforementioned: there are some hints to that work, but overall this is a whole other beast, and if they’re up to it, this album should not be missed.

Kingdoms of Amalur -Reckoning- The Soundtrack Marc Friedman

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

4.5


Posted on August 1, 2012 by Marc Friedman. Last modified on August 1, 2012.


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