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World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria
by Jeremy Soule, Sam Cardon, Russell Brower, Glenn Stafford, Edo Guidotti, Derek Duke, Neal Acree

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria

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World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria (Soundtrack) by Jeremy Soule, Sam Cardon, Russell Brower, Glenn Stafford, David Arkenstone, Derek Duke, Neal Acree
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World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria (Soundtrack) by Jeremy Soule, Sam Cardon, Russell Brower, Glenn Stafford, David Arkenstone, Derek Duke, Neal Acree

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria
Composed by Jeremy Soule, Sam Cardon, Russell Brower, Glenn Stafford, Edo Guidotti, Derek Duke, Neal Acree
Azeroth Music (2012)

Rating: 10/10

 Buy World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria (Soundtrack)  by Jeremy Soule, Sam Cardon, Russell Brower, Glenn Stafford, David Arkenstone, Derek Duke, Neal Acree from iTunes

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“The music heard in MISTS OF PANDARIA is of such a high quality that only the most stubborn of film and video game music listeners would be unable to find something of value here. ”

Perfection in Our Mists
Review by Richard Buxton (@monkeybutlerman)

Having been a gamer for most of my life, it might come as a surprise that I have never taken a single virtual step in the WORLD OF WARCRAFT universe. Despite the seemingly limitless replayability that has been constantly enjoyed by millions throughout the years, the series has simply never appealed to me. It’s not as though I have never been a PC gamer - the likes of Battlefield, Counterike, and countless others have kept me entertained for as long into each generation as my PC’s could manage. Yet, until recently, Warcraft was merely a statistical machine to me - a demonstration of the immense pulling power that gaming possesses. All that changed however, during London’s most recent Video Games Live show in 2008. Having gone in impatiently awaiting the likes of Metal Gear Solid, Halo, and Mass Effect, it came as a great surprise that as I departed through the crowds , all I could think about was when I would be able to hear the mesmerizing World of Warcraft medley for a second time. Fused with the beautiful CGI images, the themes of Warcraft were forever scorched into my musical memory, and the series has since provided several outstanding cues that stand amongst the greatest that gaming has to offer. The series has set such an impressive precedent, and MISTS OF PANDARIA is possibly the most captivating soundtrack to come from the long-running series’ musical library.

The music of the Warcraft series has always perfectly matched the games in terms of scope, providing musical backdrops, that of Wrath of the Lich King for example, that would not seem out of place in such blockbuster franchises as Lord of the Rings. Releases such as Wrath of the Lich King, Fall of the Lich King, and Cataclysm have had a typical dark and brooding quality to them, centering on the daunting task that each new adventurer faces. Mists of Pandaria certainly adds a little comedic flair to the lore, but still maintains that essential air of scale so often attributed to Warcraft. Musically, Mists of Pandaria is instantly noticeable as being a significantly different experience to the previous releases, but continues the Warcraft tradition of thrilling, large-scale orchestral action music - a tradition that those at Blizzard will no doubt be proud of, and rightly so. This comes as no surprise given the musical talent in Blizzard’s armory. RUSSELL BROWER leads an all-star cast of Blizzard stalwarts that make up the latest Warcraft’s musical clan. Wrath of the Lich King, Starcraft II, and Diablo III composers BROWER, NEAL ACREE, GLENN STAFFORD, EDO GUIDOTTI, and DEREK DUKE are joined by SAM CARDON, and JEREMY SOULE (The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim). Mists of Pandaria is bursting with talent, and none goes wasted in this magnificent video game score.

The music heard in MISTS OF PANDARIA is of such a high quality that only the most stubborn of film and video game music listeners would be unable to find something of value here. The greatest departure for the series’ music is the use inevitable Chinese ethnic sounds that decorate most of the cues. The multiple composers hardly break any boundaries of the typical Hollywood Asian sound that is heard whenever a film so much as mentions the continent, and the score is arguably better for it. The template is embraced so expertly that it injects a rush of life into what can often be a tired sound in the hands of lesser composers. As someone who consistently enjoys the ethnic scores of China and Japan, MISTS OF PANDARIA was always going to be of greater interest to me than your average video game soundtrack. However, like Kung Fu Panda 2 before it, MISTS OF PANDARIA takes the style above and beyond the norm, providing what is arguably 2012’s best video game score so far. This score is just a whole lot of fun.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a score that opens with greater excitement, majesty, and wonder anywhere. MISTS OF PANDARIA opens with a triple salvo of excellence. “Heart of Pandaria” (1) immediately lets you know it is a Warcraft cue as it first echoes the opening moments of Wrath of the Lich King’s “Main Title”, before marking its own territory and individual identity as the ethnic side of the score breaks out in thrilling style. The opening cue is just shy of 8 minutes, a duration that is arguably too short given how enjoyable an 8 minutes it is.

“Hearts of Pandaria” is only a taster however as the score moves on and reaches one of its many towering peaks with “Why Do We Fight?” (2). While there’s no avoiding the parallels with Kung Fu Panda 2 (it would seem that Panda’s make for great musical inspiration) in this track, a great compliment to any score, “Why Do We Fight” ebbs and flows so eloquently that it takes on a life of its own. The closing moments of the second track, the whole final minute to be exact, are among the greatest you will ever hear in video game music. The structure of the cue makes for a beautifully flowing listening experience, accenting the action with pivotal moments of rest that infinitely enhance the scope of the piece.

“The Wandering Isle” (3) is a noticeable shift in pace from the first two cues - but is no less impressive - with its slowed tempo and deep texture. While less likely to up the heart rate, it is nonetheless supremely enjoyable and breaks up the opening to the soundtrack well. These moments of “rest”, if you can call them that, add a greater sense of pacing that crucially diverts the score from the possibility of becoming overwhelming. Both “Temple of the Five Dawns” with its sumptuous strings, and “The Traveler’s Path” with its amusing vocals serve as these accents, but do so as impressive pieces in their own right and never threaten to become anonymous amongst the frantic surroundings.

While a break in pace is welcome, MISTS OF PANDARIA truly excels when it is at full throttle as is the case in “Way of the Monk” (6), a track that vies with “Why Do We Fight” as the score’s greatest cue. It cannot be emphasized enough how well each piece flows. “Way of the Monk” is similar to many of the cues in that it takes on a form akin to that of a suite, unsurprising considering that the scope of a Warcraft game demands so much music. “Way of the Monk” has a masterful fluency to it that is a joy to behold. The music excites as much as it seduces, with the moments that clearly place stress upon the ethnic factor particularly standing out. The prominence of the ethnic instruments has been strategically calculated so as to not burn out too quickly, and the music benefits greatly as a result.

Almost every track is a show-stopper. The only less than stellar moments are so infrequent that they are of little consequence in the grand scheme of things. “Sha (Spirits of Hatred)” (7) is by no means a poor track, it just simply pales when in such outstanding company. “Stormstout Brew” (19) is something of a departure from the overall style and does suffer from it, becoming mostly forgettable in its playfulness. Thankfully though, the track is followed by a thrilling finale in “Serpent Riders” (20), that is immensely enjoyable while never reaching the heights of the score’s spectacular opening. The opening six tracks themselves are worth the price of admission alone.

Outside its legions of devotees, World of Warcraft has garnered a reputation as something that extends beyond a normal game, and is often discussed in a less than positive manner. Regardless of your stance on the MMORPG phenomenon, Warcraft is a musical powerhouse and nowhere is this more evident than in MISTS OF PANDARIA. The many composers that worked on this score have continued Warcraft’s exemplary musical legacy and have conjured up one of the greatest video game scores you are ever likely to hear.

 

Rating: 10/10


Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Hearts of Pandaria 7:57  *****
2 Why Do We Fight 3:43  *****
3 The Wandering Isle 2:32  *****
4 The Temple of the Five Dawns 1:58  *****
5 The Traveler's Path 5:48  ****
6 The Way of the Monk 3:46  *****
7 Sha (Spirits of Hatred) 3:51  ***
8 The August Celestials 4:14  ****
9 Shado-Pan 4:52  ****
10 Thunder King 2:09  *****
11 The Path of the Huojin 4:20  *****
12 Going Hozen 2:27  ****
13 Valley of the Four Winds 5:32  ****
14 The Path of the Tushui 5:15  ****
15 Go Ask the River 3:17  ****
16 Townlong Steppes 4:45  ****
17 The Golden Lotus 1:53  ****
18 The Wisdom of Yu'Lon 5:38  ****
19 The Stormstout Brew 1:27  ***
20 Serpent Riders 2:33  *****
  Total Running Time (approx) 78 minutes  

 

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