Composed by
Tilman Sillescu, Alexander Roeder, Alex Pfeffer, Markus Schmidt

 

Published by
Electronic Arts (2009)

 


Tracklistings
1) Lords of the Sky
2) A Light of Winter
3) Northern Steel
4) Escape from the Underrealm
5) Shores of Wintershade
6) The Forge of Creation
7) A Spirit of the Forest
8) Deep Roots
9) The Soultree
10) Whispering Ruins
11) Ascension
12) A Storm of Fire
13) Slaves No More
14) Wrath of the Sun Elves
15) Brannoc at the Forge
16) Echoes of the Amii
17) A Slayer from the Shadows
18) Bitter Chains
19) The Reckoning
20) Into the Night
21) Gods Requiem

 


Extras
- Game website
- Composer website
- Interview

 


Availability

EA official music store

 


Review by
Oliver Ittensohn


BattleForge

BattleForge is an intriguing mix between a real-time strategy and a card game. The player takes control of one of four factions (Frost, Fire, Nature and Shadow) and builds up his armies not traditionally by use of production buildings and resources but rather from a constructed deck of cards he has purchased online or won in-game. He can spend these cards at will on the battlefield which make the clever combination of cards and the moment of playing out essential components for victory. Created by experienced RTS developer Phenomic, the game has a good chance of mixing up the RTS genre after its release later this year.

The sound and music studio Dynamedion has had a long working relationship with the developers at Phenomic starting in 2003 with the score to SpellForce. For BattleForge, they would again join forces. It has become custom for Dynamedion sound productions to have the scores composed by a total of four composers: Tilman Sillescu, Alexander Roeder, Alex Pfeffer and Markus Schmidt. Each composer’s individual involvement is hard to grasp, yet the musical result is surprisingly coherent. To support the composers’ epic musical vision on paper the State Orchestra of Frankfurt was hired to bring the full score to life maintaining Dynamedion’s tradition of having their game scores performed by live orchestra.

Epic conflict and clash of mighty armies certainly demand powerful music and BattleForge is not afraid to show it. As a consequence, the album doesn’t start quietly: a clash of bass and racing strings lead to the full performance of the Frost Faction theme (“The Lords of the Sky”) later joined by male choir. It’s a straightforward melodic line that benefits much from the arrangement of its instrumental surroundings. Indeed, its full epic potential is realized more convincingly in “A Light of Winter” while its dramatic qualities are set free in the emotional “Shores of Wintershade”. Derived from it is a returning action motif associated with the Fire Faction. It is most notably heard in the thrilling “A Storm of Fire”, easily one of the best cues on the album. Snaring brass and earth-shaking drums unleash a riveting powerhouse of excitement. Another cue of particular note is the exotic, duduk-lead “Brannoc at the Forge”. In contrast, the Nature Faction is musically delicate, uplifting and ominous. Harmonious and light arrangements for strings and woodwinds are the dominating elements. It’s not until the martial cue entitled “The Soultree” that nature’s music turns bold. Like the Frost Faction, Nature has an identifying musical idea with its most memorable rendition in “Whispering Ruins” colored with Celtic flute. Furthermore, a particular melodic reference in the strings pays tribute to the Elves’ music of Howard Shore’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The fourth playable race, the Shadow Faction, features the most peculiar instrumentations and arrangements. From synthesized droning to percussive bangs and clangs to resounding bass their sound is heavy, brooding and smells of destruction. Overall, the quality of the arrangements varies. They work considerably better in the game than they do on the album. The orchestra does a reasonable job in bringing all these elements to life, even though you might wish for a more intense performance and a larger ensemble at some points. The score is ultimately not as powerful as it could’ve been.

The listening experience on album is only part of the score, however. For one, it only presents us with a selection of all the music written. Secondly, the composers’ greatest achievement probably lies in their ability to write the music for its in-game context. There, the score is incredibly dynamic, changing tempo and intensity on the fly. This probably results in the album’s perpetual sense of movement. However, what might be judged as an advantage to the gaming experience leaves the album with a bitter aftertaste. Often, the score feels hurried and hardly ever significantly shifts tempo. It is rhythmically strong, yet monotonous at times. This also translates over to the melodic quality which is somewhat understated and seems to feel more comfortable playing in the background. As such, there are few tracks that will satisfy outright, but the album will gain on you. It’s an engaging score, one that primarily enriches the gaming experience yet still provides an entertaining if somewhat uninspiring listening experience. Still, it remains to be amazed at the outstanding overall quality of Dynamedion’s output for the RTS genre.