Warcraft

 

 

warcraft-score-cover
Ramin Djawadi (2016)

 


Why You Should…
If you’re game to listening to a respectful and occasionally entertaining action fantasy score from Ramin Djawadi, with flashes of compositional intelligence. 

Why You Shouldn’t…
If you find the familiar practice of orchestration and rendering all too derivative of other inspired works, or if you see more clarity in thematic abundance.

Release Date: June 10th 2016
Composer(s): Ramin Djawadi
Length: 60:46
Recorded By/At: Nick Wollage at Air Lyndhurst
Label: Back Lot Music

Additional Information:
Additional Music By: Brandon Campbell
Conducted By: Gavin Greenaway
Orchestrated By: Stephen Coleman, Andrew Kinney, Tony Blondal & Matt Dunkley
Solo Violin: Everton Nelson
Solo Cello: Caroline Dale
Contrabass Flute: Andy Findon
Choir: Metro Voices
Choirmaster: Jenny O’Grady

It was inevitable that the lore of heralded video game franchise World of Warcraft would be sought in pursuit of fiscal profit via a cinematic adaptation. Indeed, the various games in the franchise have garnered a worldwide cult following of staggering proportions, ranging across wide demographics. Following turndowns of Uwe Boll’s and Sam Raimi’s involvement as director of the project, promising British director Duncan Jones would helm the somewhat curiously anticipated flick, WARCRAFT. Legendary Pictures would aim to invest heavily in the world of Azeroth, scattered meticulously across these video games and inspired novels- for those who are unfamiliar, the core concept of these games and novels lie in a perennial conflict induced by the mutual introduction of humans and orcs to one another. The homeworld of the orcs, Draenor is nearing death, as they seek a portal to escape to Azeroth to sustain their race’s survival. A mysterious force known as fel magic is destroying their world, and serves as a narrative catalyst in bringing to the humans, who must decide whether to trust them or to defend themselves against the newfound presence. Opening to unfortunate reception didn’t stop it however, from reaching $430 million worldwide, just about securing plans and options for a sequel, as per original intentions.

The craftsmanship of these MMORPG games has to be lauded for their ingenuity, and a consistently rewarding trait of these installments has been their music. Primarily attributed to composers Russell Brower, Neal Acree, David Arkenstone, Clint Bajakian, Tracy Bush, Sam Cardon, Derek Duke, Craig Stuart Garfinkle, Edo Guidotti, Jason Hayes, Eimear Noone, Jeremy Soule, Glenn Stafford, and Matt Uelmen, it was rather bizarre when Ramin Djawadi was contracted to compose the original score for the film. It is a shame that none of the aforementioned portfolio of talented composers were not given consideration for this cinematic adaptation, their styles and inputs more than worthy of this project. One can safely point to his promising work on the HBO series Game of Thrones as the reason for Djawadi’s appointing, as well as his score for Pacific Rim to a lesser extent. His compositional prowess has been rewarding to see and hear, showing maturity and willingness to articulate intelligence and emotion as established by the greats, whilst simultaneously staying loyal to the muscular, dynamic and unforgettable Remote Control palette of action. Warcraft is a further example of his newfound path, though not without its detractions. The composer introduces two new themes- the main overarching identity (ah, structure!) and a motif for the orcs. This primary theme heard right off the swing in the titular “Warcraft” perfectly echoes the sluggish orcs and their lack of elegance, and the minor-major interactions are just fine. Some interesting chord progressions are given, as the low range brass belts out the main theme with all the reverence of a mighty giant having woken from his slumber. Ironically, it represents the humans in their unexpected war, and features in “Forest Ambush,”,“Two Worlds Colliding,” and “Llane’s Solution,”. Djawadi often delineates this theme as a method of suspense, giving more sustained performances that will secure this as the dominant identity of the score. They also are characteristic in their renderings of the powerful lower region cello ostinatos and brass bursts of anthemic solemnity and bravery.

The other theme is that of the orcs, as heard in “Honor” is more of a highlight than the main human theme, with more range and capacity in emotional response. This is proven in “Strong Bones,” as a more contemplative and almost human (would you believe?) quality is given to them, to show they are far more than their surface suggests. “Gul’dan” renders this in war-like aggression and intensity, using innovative vocal techniques on the woodwinds. There is contrapuntal activity in “Forest Ambush” that blends these themes and forces against each other, a trait to be definitely admired, and “Victory and Defeat” elevates it from being a generic cue to one with sincerity and pathos. “Medivh” features a romanticized scope, with lush strings and harp glissandi, and this crescendo based approach is given full weight in “For Azeroth”, with necessary soars and accented dynamics. A cue such as “Lothar” calls for some genuinely pleasing string portions, harmonically ticking all boxes effortlessly. Djawadi, needless to say the least has completely used his orchestra of standard members and even a cimbasso, with consistency that saves this score from a recessive effort. All the action criteria are ticked off, with even a few emotional sequences, and compositional intelligence to boot. But there’s still too much of the familiarity that comes with these sounds and techniques that offers very little new. Despite this, Djawadi earns his pay respectfully, and his work on the Game of Thrones series seemingly has taught him the value of thematic consistency and interactions. This isn’t a bad nor brilliant score, but it’s stuck somewhere in between, and to reflect that, the fairest rating has to be given.

 

Rating: ***

Track Listing:
(all music written by Ramin Djawadi)

1) Warcraft (1:58)
2) The Horde (3:17)
3) Medivh (2:43)
4) Honor (4:46)
5) Forest Ambush (3:43)
6) Lothar (3:35)
7) Gul’dan (3:13)
8) The Beginning (2:29)
9) Strong Bones (1:34)
10) Victory and Defeat (3:02)
11) The Book (2:27)
12) Two Worlds Colliding (3:22)
13) The Incantation (3:43)
14) Half Orc, Half Human (1:26)
15) Whatever Happens (1:43)
16) My Gift to You (2:31)
17) Llane’s Solution (7:25)
18) Mak’gora (5:01)
19) For Azeroth (2:50)

Awards: 

Nominations:

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