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Grant Kirkhope – “Kingdoms of Amular: Reckoning OST” Review

Kingdoms of Amular: Reckoning has been a game on many people’s radar for a while and now its out, one thing many will agree on is that it has a good soundtrack – one that’s now being released! Grant Kirkhope has a long legacy of memorable soundtracks but in the world of orchestrated soundtracks is this one of them?

“Reckoning Main Theme” reminds me of the Medievil games music with its slightly quirky/creepy b-movie vibe to it. Jots of jingling, cymbal rolls and some wonderful orchestration that is fast, flowing and proud to be bursting onto your ear drums. Tim Burton take one. “The Age of Arcana” takes the main motifs from the theme and subdues them to a mood piece, one that is built upon with “Dead’s Dead”. “Well of Souls” concludes the opening set.

“Troll” is the first big dramatic theme with thumping strings providing the tense beat as the brass bleeds across the speakers and some fantastic wind instruments flourish in some really complex melodies. “Dalentarth” is a tribute to the xylophone to woodwind for the main motif before “House of Ballads” provides a nice regal theme to the mix. “Warsworn” is a brass heavy fanfare. “Mines and Caves” is more a background  drone and ambience piece than anything else, more akin to a haunted house feel. “Gardens of Ysa” brings its own motif and melody which steers close to the main one but has some interesting chord choices, while “Niskaru” feels like Troll evolved.

“The Plains of Erathell” uses broad string sweeps to convey its grand scale while “Titarion” is almost claustrophobic in its production. “Scholia Arcana” returns to Danny Elfman like charms to give a quirky feel to every note and scale. “Rathir” is cinematic but too short.

It’s at this half way point that you’ll wonder where things are going. Much in the way of a film soundtrack and many of the orchestral game soundtracks, it feels like a cut-scene and battles only soundtrack and with 35 tracks, all of which using a few motifs to keep a pattern and story flowing. Its going to divide people. “Fight!” continues the Elfman charms with some real 1950’s alien horror classical music. Its one of the best tracks on the soundtrack and that’s because its given time to develop and be a full track. Instead “Adessa”, which has a lovely motif to it, is over too quickly because it doesn’t linger and manifest itself long enough.

This problem plagues the soundtrack and I have always struggled with soundtrack’s that pile in the music without giving it time to develop. Its compounded here because while the music is very cinematic, it’s not immediately accessible. “The Erathi Ruins” is one that works well because it again is given room to breathe. “Conflict” shows Kirkhope’s excellent battle music nouse once again with a track both kooky and full of tension and terror. “To War” is another good short piece as is the closing track “Tirnoch” but by the time I’d hit the end I just hadn’t connected.

There is some excellent music here buried in among a lot of short cinematic pieces and they weigh down the other pieces. I personally would have preferred more of the  locale musics or even a looped version of some tracks. Here Grant Kirkhope’s music feels a little pressurised and while it does feel like a great tribute to Danny Elfman, it’s not a soundtrack I plan to return to time and time again – until I at least get to play the game and associate the music clips with something tangible. Fans only need apply.

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