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Halo Reach by Martin O'Donnell
and Michael Salvatori

Halo Reach

Buy online

Halo Reach (Soundtrack) by Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori
Halo Reach (Soundtrack)  by Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori
Halo (Poster and Memorabilia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Halo Reach (Soundtrack) by Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori

Halo Reach
Composed by Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori
Sumthing Else Records (2010)

Rating: 6/10

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Soundclips below from AmazonMP3

 

“Despite its unnecessarily disjointed tracks and simplistic nature, MARTIN O’DONNELL and MICHAEL SALVATORI’s work on HALO REACH remains a score that is very successful in the game, even if on album it’s fairly weak unless you’re a big fan of the series and love all things HALO.”

Reach Exceeds its Grasp
Review by Marius Masalar
 

Grandiose choirs, slightly processed percussion, piano interludes, familiar theme? Yup, it’s a HALO score, folks. HALO REACH to be precise. I must make a heretical confession: I’ve never understood the hype about the HALO scores or the games. While it’s certainly commendable that Bungie has taken such a well-worn formula and honed it to the fine point of the series’ acclaimed multiplayer gaming, the franchise’s near-deification remains something of a mystery to me.

That being said, credit must be given where due, and HALO REACH is a solid score, and despite my coming complaints it remains true that the game would be weaker without it. The acclaimed duo of MARTIN O’DONNELL and MICHAEL SALVATORI return to deliver another entry in the series, and as long as you’re not expecting anything new or innovative or particularly moving outside the context of the game, you’ll be well pleased by the results.

The iconic choral theme of the HALO series (lovingly, er, inspired by the MYST IV theme) makes an expected appearance on this score, though not in its original form. First heard in “Overture” (1), it feels perhaps more noble and tragic this time around, as is appropriate considering the game’s bleak premise. It frequently appears with a rising two-note figure that is reminiscent of the gloomier Dark Knight one. Oddly, there is a vague oriental feel to this first track that gives way to a softer ending to the opening sequence. “Winter Contingency” (2) is the longest track on the album and the perfect example of what appears to be a deliberate stylistic choice on the part of the album producers. Up to the 3-minute point is one distinctive “section”, developing the freshened theme in a more active setting. But after that the track takes off on a different tangent with a dramatic gameplay cue. This occurs several times within the same track, with completely different musical directions explored in a disconnected fashion. It makes it difficult to give an impression on a given track since many of them seem to be mash-ups of several completely distinct cues from the game area that could have easily been separated.

“ONI: Sword Base” (3) is a groovy piece with more pronounced rock influence, but beyond its rhythmic opening and unexpected choral finale, it is a fairly forgettable sequence of gameplay underscore. The same can be said for the admittedly pleasant ambience of “Nightfall” (4). In “Tip of the Spear” (5) we find clear allusions to previous classic tracks from the series like “Finish the Fight”. The material is once again spun a little differently, but series veterans will spot it a mile away and appreciate its rousing nature. Musically, this arrangement seems more simplistic and somewhat less emotionally satisfying. This, of course, refers to the first “section” of the track, since once again at the 3-minute mark there is a brief pause before an utterly unrelated percussive break-beat underscore takes over and rather dulls the favourable impression left by the first half. “Long Night of Solace” (6) is a dynamic cue that starts off deceptively quiet before unleashing an excellent rock action sequence. This then gives way to some emotional string-led underscore that reprises the main themes in a somber but unnecessarily stretched fashion — there was no need for this track to be nearly 12 minutes long.

“Exodus” (7) is among the score’s highlights, offering a truly stirring and harmonious introduction and conclusion, which is fitting for the end of the first disc. “Alexandria” (8) is actually a very similar track, though it remains quiet and noble almost throughout its significant length, giving way to action only near the end. There’s a funny moment at the start of “The Package” (9) where it sounds like the theme from Shrek is about to make an appearance, but then the harmonies shift and the illusion vanishes and you’re left with one of the secondary themes and more interesting cues on the album, featuring good (if somewhat synthetic sounding) action material. When the Dark-Knight-esque two-note rising figure appears again at the beginning of “The Pillar of Autumn” (10), it signals the beginning of one of the album’s best action tracks, with each of the distinct “sections” combining into a strong suite.

As we know, moments of dignified grandeur require the assistance of a plaintive piano, and “Epilogue” (11) delivers with its nostalgic reprisal of the thematic material. It’s all very pretty actually, and the choir and strings take over for a solemn send-off. What follows is a series of shorter cues, each of which feel more familiar in terms of clear beginnings and endings. “From the Vault” (12) and “Fortress” (14) are unremarkable sequences of gameplay underscoring, but they bookend an almost Zelda-like piano and vocal elegy in “Ashes” (13). “We’re Not Going Anywhere” (15) is quick but cinematic, and given its tone would have probably been better placed after the strangely oriental “At Any Cost” (16) and muffled rock remix “Both Ways (Remix)” (17).

You can feel a conclusion coming when the lonesome snare starts in “Walking Away” (18). This cue is uplifting, but the brass and children’s choral elements both sound fairly cheap and synthy compared to the warmth present in other cues, which seems odd. Regardless, “Ghosts and Glass” (19) redeems any feeling of cheapness with the album’s most direct presentation of the main themes in a satisfying reprise. “We Remember” (20) is ironically titled, since reaching this last track on the album left me wondering if I had actually encountered any material that I would remember long after removing the CD from my computer. The wailing guitar solo and grungy conclusion works well enough, but when all is said and done, my ears were more than ready for something else to listen to.

Despite its unnecessarily disjointed tracks and simplistic nature, MARTIN O’DONNELL and MICHAEL SALVATORI’s work on HALO REACH remains a score that is very successful in the game, even if on album it’s fairly weak unless you’re a big fan of the series and love all things HALO. If only the entire score was as unbelievably strong and emotive as the cue used in the “Deliver Hope” trailer (which by the way does not appear on the album). Sadly, as with its predecessors, this is an almost entirely unremarkable effort riding on the strong shoulders of others it has been inspired by and bringing little freshness to the industry or even the franchise. A fact which I’m certain will have little bearing on its inevitable success for the devoted fanbase.
 

Rating: 6/10

 

 


Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
Disc 1      
1 Overture 4:47  ****
2 Winter Contingency 12:09  *****
3 ONI: Sword Base 8:28  ***
4 Nightfall 5:41  **
5 Tip of the Spear 6:05  ****
6 Long Night of Solace 11:47  ***
7 Exodus 7:19  ****
8 New Alexandria 8:42  ***
  Disc 1 Running Time (approx) 56 minutes  
Disc 2      
9 The Package 6:56  *****
10 The Pillar of Autumn 9:40  ****
11 Epilogue 4:30  *****
12 From the Vault 4:59  **
13 Ashes 2:46  *****
14 Fortress 1:08  **
15 We're Not Going Anywhere 1:14  ***
16 At Any Cost 2:30  ***
17 Both Ways (remix) 2:17  ***
18 Walking Away 1:53  ****
19 Ghosts and Glass 2:42  *****
20 We Remember 2:05  ***
  Disc 2 Running Time (approx) 51 minutes  

 

 
   

 

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