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Winifred Phillips – “Legend of the Guardians OST” Review

Winifred Phillips is no stranger to big theatrical scores with pizzazz and kitchen sink attached but Legend of the Guardians is full on cinematic treats for the ears from start to finish.

Opening “Into the Blackness” opens with a brooding shroud of mystery before the big strings and huge percussion kick in raising the ante up a notch every few bars with dramatic tension and pulsating bass murmurs. “With Hearts Sublime” changes tact completely with a ethereal vocals and sunkissed zithers scoring a beautiful otherworldly tune. The whole track oozes a certain warm glow to it and reminds me of the vocal tracks from Dragon Age Origins in that it speaks a language above man.

“Eyes in the Night” is reliant on its precussive nature and strong brass theme to pound home the message. This track is quite unusual for me because its primarily a pulse raiser but in parts the strings actually feel quite soothing underneath, almost like a calm in the storm. “The Gathering” is a calm track altogether and one that’s noble and forging. The strings effortlessly wind through the track and the harps and wind instruments embellish the track beautifully. It feels like to could be an ending track too, like a return home.

“Take Flight” is a fantastic piece. Its soaring pace against its pretty melodies and flourishes make for a aural treat. Not having played the game, you couldn’t ask for a more on-the-nose piece of music for the words “Take Flight”. It sounds like something straight from a coming of age moment in a Pixar film! “Attack at Dawn” returns to the strong percussive battle tracks however this one has a particularly strong hook to it and the sheer complexity of the track makes for taut listening.

“Deadly Plan” is an interesting hybrid between not quite being a flat out battle track, but still having enough pace and intensity to keep you on your toes. “Nightmare” introduces a full choir into the mix and result is devine. They absolutely dominate the track and the result works as a particularly dark track with organs and thick brass arrangements pushing the pressure passed boiling point.

“The Shape of the Wind” is a thoughtful reflective piece that goes through several mini movements however its from about half way through it hits its stride reprising theme signitures in different fashions and the track evolves into a slightly uneasy bliss. “Wild Fire” is the most taut battle track to date in the album and actually sounds like a real Eastern showdown with all kinds of eastern influences on the strings, percussion and woodwind.
“Legends” and “Devils Triangle” almost feel like they go hand in hand as one feels like a natural progression to the other and the latter is extremely cinematic in delivery and production. How Winifred is not on the new Hobbit film yet is beyond me! “The Seekers” leads on with a more choral piece that calms things down, albeit a notch because the choir is so powerful, before “To Right All Wrongs” gives us a final slice of battle music pie with strings, brass and percussion flying everywhere.

We then enter the final trio of tracks. “The Fallen” is a wonderful merge of orchestra and eastern instrumentation that sends you drifting off with the voices of angelic demons to another (dare we say higher?) plain. It’s effortless and adorable. “The Siege” however is all out mayhem. Shrill strings, heavy orchestrated stabs, soaring brass cries and everyone bashing the kitchen sink percussion wise, its a great end to the battlesque tracks. “The Guardians” is the final track and its absolutely euphoric. It sounds like a battle track that has been given endless continues to constantly slay its prey as there is a motif that pops up throughout that is like a victory dance. The choir harks back to memories of when I first heard the opening bars of “Liberali Fatal” of Final Fantasy VIII. It’s a fantastic track that really shows off the very best of Winifred Phillips’ composing chops.

“Legend of the Guardians” utterly blurs the line between what could be game music and what could be film score. It’s so cinematic you’d be worried for thinking there’s no melody but throughout little motif’s pop out in different forms and if anything the score feels like an epic journey in itself. A must have for any cinematic, orchestrated or dramatic music lover.

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