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Medal of Honor by Ramin Djawadi

Medal of Honor

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Medal of Honor (Soundtrack)  by Ramin Djawadi
Medal of Honor (Poster and Memorabilia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Medal of Honor (Soundtrack) by Ramin Djawadi

Medal of Honor
Composed by Ramin Djawadi
Walt Disney Records (2010)

Rating: 7/10

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“...MEDAL OF HONOR is a well-balanced score. It fits the gameplay like a glove, painting an evocative picture of the setting and action, and it also offers listeners a satisfying experience on album.”

Honor Regained
Review by Marius Masalar

The mighty hammer of elite film score criticism seems perpetually poised over RAMIN DJAWADI’s head, coming down hard on scores like IRON MAN and CLASH OF THE TITANS. This seems unfair. The larger body of laypersons appears far more pleased with the man’s work, and his ability to address them so directly is a measure of skill as a film composer, even if his craft is less cerebral and meticulous than that of others in the industry. His latest work — a first venture into a major video game title — seems to bring the best of his abilities to the table, polished over a long production period. And you know what? It’s worthy of acclaim. Here’s MEDAL OF HONOR.

“From Here” (1) pulls us into Afghanistan with a patient rhythmic build, punctuated by twangs of the Oud and other idiomatic instruments of the region. We’re introduced to the game’s main theme toward the end: a noble and flexible theme with an air of tragedy and a tasteful deference to the game’s Middle-Eastern setting. The rest of the score’s palette of instruments, more electronic, becomes clear in “Watch Your Corners” (2), the first of several gameplay action tracks. This one remains fairly low-key throughout, with subtle but propulsive percussion and an insistent string figure. One of the highlight tracks on the album, “Heroes Abroad” (3) is a cinematic piece of true beauty with haunting solo string whispers of the title theme above a bed of very warm synths. Midway, the full string section takes over and continues with one of the few mostly-orchestral statements in the score. It’s a stirring performance and lends the game the broad, sweeping grandeur of a war film.

Tense gameplay follows in “Streets of Gardez” (4). DJAWADI maintains a subtle touch, returning to his formula of percussion with a string rhythm to carry the mood. “The Time Is Upon Us” (5) is an atmospheric cue featuring a spectacular ethnic-sounding fiddle solo crying out a plaintive lament. Truly haunting. “Hunter-Killer” (6) begins with guitars buzzing like angry bees, ushering us into a more intense action track. This cue was offered as a free download but it actually shows off the more mediocre flavors of the score. It’s a very effective piece of gameplay action, building to a more forceful finish, but it lacks the emotional gravity of the more dramatic cues on the album. Speaking of which, “Falling Away” (7) is another highlight, beginning unassumingly and leading to the entrance of some magical male vocals. These are soon joined by strings to deliver a heavily emotive theme.

“Taking the Field” (8) brings back the electric guitars and more rock-oriented percussion for a very fun and militaristic cue with a distinctly contemporary vibe. “High Ground” (9) reminds us of the main theme dramatically, and then “Thirty Seconds Out” (10) makes us smile with a downright groovy beat joined by some of the Middle-Eastern instruments. “The Summit” (11) is another cue where the string orchestra is in the forefront, delivering a patient but magnificent rendition of the main theme over a quiet synthetic rhythm.

“Paint ‘Em Up” (12) and “Enemy Down” (13) are unremarkable tension tracks, the latter of which is only noticeable for the jarring rap vocals that are inexplicably tossed into the mix. It’s a notable misstep and while I’m sure it’s appealing and ‘cool’, it also feels unnecessary and forced, especially considering the lameness of the lyrics. Thankfully, “All Rounds Expended” (14) remedies the situation with a clean and moody string-led telling of the main theme. That plaintive ethnic fiddle takes the stage again for “Send In The Rangers” (15), albeit over a bed of electronic elements and a prominent rhythm this time.

The final stretch is a mixed bag. “Tariq’s Plea” (16) takes us through a strong and emotional beginning before passing into a dark and throbbing action sequence with massive percussion and a wonderfully distorted fiddle. The action continues through “WFO” (17), which brings some more ordinary electric guitar in. As one might expect, “Final Extraction” (18) is a very gloomy take on the main theme of the score, with a real emphasis on the tragic side of things. “H-Hour” (19) continues this feel with slow string cries and some airy woodwind phrases. “Wiyar” (20) is too short. Perhaps it’s the return of the absolutely gorgeous and mystic vocalist from earlier, or perhaps it’s the unleashing of the main theme. Whatever the reason, the cue feels like it ends right as it’s getting started, which is confounding since it could have been the beginning of a veritable showpiece for DJAWADI and a brilliant summary of the score’s best moments.

As it stands, MEDAL OF HONOR is a well-balanced score. It fits the gameplay like a glove, painting an evocative picture of the setting and action, and it also offers listeners a satisfying experience on album. Barring a few odd missteps, it’s very enjoyable, even though it won’t require your full attention. For RAMIN DJAWADI, it is a demonstration of his ability to produce amazing mixes (from a purely technical standpoint, this score sounds absolutely pristine and beautiful — just as CLASH OF THE TITANS did) as well as engaging music, even if it functions on a less cerebral and more visceral level than some might like.
 

Rating: 7/10

 

 


Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 From Here 3:50  *****
2 Watch Your Corners 3:20  ****
3 Heroes Abroad 5:11  *****
4 Streets of Gardez 3:56  ***
5 The Time is Upon Us 2:49  ****
6 Hunter-Killer 2:21  ***
7 Falling Away 2:49  *****
8 TAking the Field 2:27  ****
9 High Ground 2:28  ****
10 Thirty Seconds Out 1:59  ***
11 The Summit 2:48  ****
12 Paint 'Em Up 2:32  ***
13 Enemy Down 2:50  **
14 All Rounds Expended 3:11  ****
15 Send in the Rangers 3:21  ***
16 Tariq's Plea 4:08  ****
17 WFO 2:37  ***
18 Final Extraction 3:43  ****
19 H-Hour 2:13  ***
20 Wiyar 2:04  ****
  Total Running Time (approx) 60 minutes  

 

 
   

 

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