Skylanders -Giants- Official Orchestral Score
Skylanders -Giants- Official Orchestral Score
September 18, 2012
Download at iTunes
Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure won the hearts of many children when it was released in 2011, combining adventurous gameplay with innovative toy figures. Released just a year later, its sequel Skylanders: Giants took a bigger, better approach and was also greeted with a strong sales. For its music, Remote Control Productions’ Lorne Balfe reprised his role as the composer of the orchestral soundtrack. Like most scores from his company, his score for the predecessor combined a memorable main theme, solid production values, and fitting textures into an effective in-game soundtrack, but lacked the creativity and elaboration to be a stand-alone highlight. Fortunately, for its sequel, he improved upon the original in every way. The result is a genuinely magical and mesmerising soundtrack.
The main theme “Giants” immerses players into the experience far more than its predecessor. Its swashbuckling melodies and bold orchestrations capture the scope of Skylanders: Giants, though are also bound to inspire comparisons with Pirates of the Caribbean. Balfe ensures the theme nevertheless impresses in its own right through offering plenty of intricacies during its playtime. It undergoes some extraordinary shifts — from the vivacious, awe-inspiring opening, to a dark cinematic interlude, through to its uplifting, youthful finish — all of which draw players further into the experience. The samples used are typical Remote Control fare — high-quality, striking, but somewhat overprocessed — though the vibrant orchestration makes the most out of them. It’s pretty good, though this time round the soundtrack has plenty better to offer.
Indeed, as Skylanders: Giants develops, it becomes quickly apparent that the music is just as colourful as the visuals. “Junkyard Isles” flies listeners into another world with its feathery orchestration and Celtic rhythms. “Secret Vault of Secrets” is an amazing concoction of sounds — with light and epic, exciting and mystical, mature and youthful qualities all being wrapped together in a cohesive way. Striking for entirely reasons, “Wilikin Village” and “Glacier Gully” explore deeper sounds with their cantabile violins and soft synthpads, working beautifully in context. Perfectly placed at the centre of the score, “Aerial Attack” offers a delightful, ever-shifting reprise of Hans Zimmer’s main theme from the original game — mixing the lighter tones of Spyro’s Adventure with the epic component of Giants, including even some choral parts. It’s never sounded better!
The score certainly sports a strong Celtic influence, perhaps reflecting Balfe’s Scottish heritage. He effortless integrates Celtic touches throughout the score, often combining them with orchestral samples and occasionally contemporary stylings. Whether the expressive folksy melodies of “Wilikin Village”, the free-spirited compound rhythms of “Junyard Isles”, or the rustic guitar lacing of “Autogyro Adventure”, this influence never sounds out-of-place. “Rumbletown” and “Cutthroat Carnival” are especially good examples of this influence. The former is filled with quasi-improvised folk performances and bustling accompaniment, breathing life and character into the island town. “Cutthroat Carnival” meanwhile is an example of how Balfe effortlessly blends folk and symphonic textures to wondrous effect.
Darker tracks such as “Drill-X’s Big Rig” and “Autogyro Adventure” are much closer in style to Remote Control’s moody electro-orchestral scores for various film franchises. Yet they’re also much more accessible and entertaining. Taking a leaf out of Ratchet & Clank’s book, Balfe takes no prisoners on the volume front, but still keeps things appealing to kids with memorable melodies and dazzling orchestration. “Bringing Order to Kaos” is another intoxicating blend of light and epic that encompasses the score effectively. But with the soundtrack finishing up at the 32 minute mark, the conclusion does seem premature, particularly for the ten dolllar pricetag. Balfe leaves us yearning for ten to twenty more minutes of material that could have really rounded off the score.
The soundtrack for Skylanders: Giants is Lorne Balfe at his best. While the samplings, stylings, and melodies are often typical of Remote Control Productions’ releases, the soundtrack has an exuberant quality that is unparalleled by most other game scores. It’s amazing how the soundtrack shifts through moods effortless and incorporates a strong Celtic influence despite its cinematic nature. It’s only significant flaw is its length, but thankfully Lorne Balfe went on even bigger, better score for the third Skylanders title. Either way, strongly recommended.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on November 19, 2015 by Chris Greening. Last modified on November 18, 2015.