Medal of Honor: Frontline (Game Soundtrack) by Michael Giacchino

 

 

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Medal of Honor: Frontline (Game Soundtrack) by Michael Giacchino

"Frontline Victory"
Review by Matt Peterson

 

Medal of Honor: Frontline (Game Soundtrack) by Michael Giacchino

Medal of Honor: Frontline
10/10

Medal of Honor: Frontline (Game Soundtrack) by Michael Giacchino


Composer 
Michael Giacchino

Category    Score

Originality 9
Music Selection 10
Composition 10
CD Length 10
Track Order 10
Performance 10
Final Score 10/10
 


 

Real Audio Clips

 
 
 
 

 

Quick Quotes


"In my review of the original Medal Of Honor, I wrote that it put many big-time film composers to shame. Frontline makes me look smarter than I am, because that statement is still true. "
****

Ryan Keaveney - Cinemusic Reviews
Medal of Honor: Frontline

 

 

 

Music Composed, Orchestrated, and Produced by Michael Giacchino
Conducted and Orchestrations by Tim Simonec
Performed by The Northwest Sinfonia
Released by Electronic Arts (EA) - July 2002

Let me begin with a prediction: Michael Giacchino is the next big thing in film music. As most film music fans already know, Giacchino has produced some stellar orchestral scores in recent years. Nevertheless, many have not heard them. Instead of scoring major pictures, Giacchino has begun humbly, diverting his immense talents toward projects for television, including the quickly canceled Semper Fi, and most notably, ABC’s Alias (a show rapidly growing in popularity). However, Giacchino’s best work has come from video games.

One of the most successful video game franchises in history, the Medal of Honor series has consistently captured a glimpse of the epic events and harsh realities of World War II. After the success of Saving Private Ryan, Steven Spielberg teamed up with his own Dreamworks Interactive to develop a realistic WWII first person gaming experience. Some may feel that depicting war through a video game may trivialize the conflict. On the contrary, the Medal of Honor creators developed the series with the desire to honor, not belittle. The creators did not want to create just another video game--they wanted to honor the veterans of the conflict by placing the player in the boots of an American soldier, giving him/her a taste of WWII Europe. Personally, I support anything that brings people to appreciate the sacrifices of our veterans. Through exhaustive research, and even military advising from Vietnam/Hollywood vet Dale Dye, USMC (Ret.) (who also advised on Platoon, Saving Private Ryan, and Band of Brothers), the project was a great success, accurately capturing not only the events of the the war, but the details and environmental nuances most would neglect. Later chapters, including Underground, Allied Assault, Frontline, and the soon to be released Pacific Assault, all follow the same philosophy.

Not only have the games themselves been of high caliber, but the music has exceeded anyone’s wildest expectations, making the experience even more powerful. When the first Medal of Honor game debuted for PlayStation, it was quite rare for a video game to contain an original, orchestrated score. However, Michael Giacchino broke the mold, delivering one of the most engaging and technically superb orchestral works in recent years. Giacchino had previously scored the video game incarnation of The Lost World. This initial success was no fluke. With the second game, Underground, Giacchino delivered an equally superb score, incorporating a boy’s choir, and indigenous instruments from the game’s French and Italian locales (such as Paris and Monte Cassino). These elements were incorporated into the themes and motifs established in the first score, along with a plethora of new, energetic cues.

Giacchino’s distinct style has been compared to the early days of John Williams, which stressed theme and motif over ambience (listen for a nice homage to Williams’ first Star Wars score at the beginning of Track 4). Giacchino’s approach for the Medal of Honor scores is quite similar: Each chapter has a new, distinct theme, which is incorporated throughout the score. Also, previously used themes are always present, including the foreboding Nazi theme, and the main title from the original game. The rest of the score is usually divided into cues for individual levels/environments. Each of these cues contains a distinct motif, which is usually elaborated and expanded upon with great orchestral brilliance and varience throughout the course of a given track.

The music for Medal of Honor: Frontline, the newest game in the series, is no different. It does not deviate from the textbook Giacchino approach, yet succeeds in offering new and exciting material. This time around, the score is presented in multiple “suites,” each entitled with the events scored. The game takes place after D-Day, when the allies began their push toward Berlin. Montgomery’s bold, yet failed invasion of Holland, Operation Market Garden, is the centerpiece (one title, “Several Bridges Too Far,” is a nice homage to Richard Attenborough’s film depicting Market Garden, A Bridge Too Far). This time around, the score is slightly more atmospheric than its predecessors, utilizing a more mature, developed orchestral sound. The choral elements return, as well. The recording quality is superb; The score was recorded in a cathedral and mastered in multichannel dts.

The CD is packed to the brim, coming in at just under 80 minutes. The whole album is one massive highlight. However, I will attempt to give you a sampling of the excellence found on Medal of Honor: Frontline:

The album opens with “Operation Market Garden,” Track 1 containing the main theme for the score. It begins with a crash, and a lone, high vocal. Slowly, the orchestra filters in--first with strings, then brass. The track then develops, and matures into a staggering theme of great beauty, yet dark foreboding.

Track 2, “Border Town,” features some of the atmospheric music of the score. This track is by no means ambient. It has definite structure and thematic coherence. However, the smooth strings, pulsing woodwinds and ethereal noise heard conjure up images of a tranquil, yet dangerous town. The track then becomes more militaristic, utilizing snare drums and the characteristic Nazi theme to build tension.

Track 5, “After the Drop” and Track 11, “Arnhem” Track 4 are two chorally centered tracks of great beauty and tragedy. One thing I admire about the game/score is the fact that they take time for you to soak in the environment. Track 5 refers to the moment of quiet after the airborne drop into Holland, an event met with little to no resistance, while Arnhem captures the tranquility of the town, before the British/US engagement with the Third Reich. A lone boy’s voice introduces the themes heard in each respective track, before the orchestra, and a large choir finish the development. The theme in “Arnhem” is deceptively simple, yet very powerful.

Continuing the suite “Needle in a Haystack,” “Manor House Rally” Track 7 features a great, momentum inducing motif, which is introduced quietly, and restated with superbly performed strings. This track features the intense, complex string orchestrations heard throughout Giacchino’s work. “The Halftrack Chase” completes the suite with a percussive flair, including great use of brass bells toward the end. The amazing strings are the star, once again.

“Sturmgeist’s Armored Train” is one of the tracks on the album. It begins with a bang, marked with driving strings, brass clusters, and eventually breaks into unique choral bursts, syncopated with brass instruments, and interjected by brass bells. This is jaw dropping music.

“Escaping Gotha” is the big finale. My words cannot do it’s power and kinetic speed justice. After this orchestral feast, the album ends with two interesting tracks. Traditionally the Medal of Honor scores have included the source music heard throughout the game. “The Songless Nightingale” is presented for Frontline, sung by a full choir. There is also a hidden track, which sounds like German drinking songs. Both tracks are kind of distracting, and seem out of place.

I would like to go on, but I will let you discover the rest for yourself. In summary, this is some of the best orchestral music out there.

I should address the unfortunate lack of availability of Giacchino’s work. Frontline is only available from ea.com, most likely for a limited time. Buy it while you can. As for the two previous scores (Medal of Honor, and Medal of Honor: Underground), they were only available from Amazon.com for a limited time, and are out of print. There are currently no plans to reissue them. You may be able to find copies on various auction sites, but be prepared to pay a hefty price. The best place to sample Giacchino’s music, and to obtain some unreleased cues, is at his website: http://www.michaelgiacchino.com. There is a page of mp3’s, along with other information, including a news page. Let’s hope all these scores get a wide commercial release in the future! His music is some of the best recently composed orchestral music, and deserves to be preserved in album form.

Michael Giacchino’s raw talent is astounding. I cannot recommend his work highly enough. This score (along with his other MOH scores) gets my highest rating. Sadly, Giacchino will not be scoring any more MOH titles. However, hope is not lost. The talented Christopher Lennertz is taking his place for Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault. He certainly has some big shoes to fill.


Track Listing and Ratings

 Track

Title Time

 Rating

1 Operation Market Garden Track 1 5:32  *****
  Storm In The Port (11:34)    
2 Border Town 3:36  *****
3 U-4902 4:44  ****
4 Shipyards of Lorient Track 2 1:07  *****
  Needle in a Haystack (16:37)    
5 After The Drop 5:37  *****
6 Kleveburg 3:32  ****
7 Manor House Rally Track 7 3:48  *****
8 The Halftrack Chase 3:40  *****
  Several Bridges Too Far (13:52)    
9 Nijimegen Bridge 3:21  ****
10 The Rowhouses 4:40  *****
11 Arnhem Track 4 5:51  *****
  Rolling Thunder (9:48)    
12 Emmerich Station 3:02  ****
13 Thuringer Wald Express 2:52  ****
14 Sturmgeist’s Armored Train 3:54  *****
  The Horton’s Nest (14:32)    
15 Approaching The Tarmac 3:47  *****
16 Clipping Their Wings 3:27  ****
17 Escaping Gotha 7:18  *****
18 The Songless Nightingale 2:46  ***
19 Bonus Track: German Drinking Songs 4:29  **
 

Total Running Time

74:41  

Medal of Honor: Frontline (Game Soundtrack) by Michael Giacchino

*The Experience-O-Meter displays the track to track listening experience of this soundtrack based on the 5-Star rating given to each track.  It provides a visual depiction of the ebbs and flows of the CD's presentation of the soundtrack.

 

Referenced Reviews
  Medal of Honor  |  Medal of Honor:  Underground

 

 

 

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