Composed by
Jeremy Soule

 

Published by
DirectSong (2007)

 

Tracklistings
1) Beyond the Northern Wall
2) Overture from Eye of the North
3) Ballad of Ice and Snow
4) Gwen's Theme
5) The Scrying Pool
6) Under the Dark Span (Asura Theme)
7) Through the Asura Gates
8) The Doomlore Flame
9) March Through Norrhart
10) Livia's Heart
11) Kathanndrax
12) Memories of Ascalon
13) Claiming Balthazar's Favor
14) Horns of Gunnar's Hold
15) Tome of Rubicon (Dwarf Theme)
16) Darkness Beneath
17) Lyssa's Dance
18) The Shattering of the World
19) Ogden Stonehealer
20) Darkrime Delves
21) Iron Footfalls
22) Victory Banners
23) A Storm Is Coming - Battle Depths
24) Song of the Shiverpeaks
25) Central Transfer Chamber
26) The Primordial
27) Live by the Sword (Svanir's Saga)
28) The Great Bear's Roar
29) Rise of the Destroyers
30) Vanguard's Stand
31) All Hail King Jalis
32) The Sun Beyond the Peaks
33) Legacy of the Gods

 

Extras
- Game website
- Composer website

 

Availability
DirectSong

 

Review by
Oliver Ittensohn

Guild Wars: Eye of the North

When Guild Wars was launched in 2005 it impressed with its atmospheric and detailed graphics, fast and accessible gameplay and its offer of online role-playing experience without monthly fees. Two years and two expansion packs later, developer ArenaNet released their third and final expansion called Guild Wars: Eye of the North. The storyline centered on an ancient evil coming from deep below, so it was no big surprise that the focus of the game lay to a large degree on dungeon exploring. Additionally, the designers added new skills and items, and prepared the storyline and characters for the upcoming sequel, Guild Wars 2.

From the very beginning Guild Wars featured a very strong musical identity thanks to composer Jeremy Soule. In addition to scoring the original game, Guild Wars: Prophecies, and both expansion packs, he also offered gamers a chance to obtain even more music for the game in the form of a musical Guild Wars Expansion Pak and Mini-addon Pak over his online store called DirectSong. The musical cohesion was not achieved through an intricate web of themes and motive-based structures, but rather through an overall soundscape linking all these titles together. For Eye of the North, Soule continued in this fashion yet took the music to another level of quality.

You only need to listen to the first track on the album called “Beyond the Northern Wall” to be fascinated by Soule’s artistic excellence: low-key, high strings and soft ascending woodwinds open up the album in a foreboding, epic fashion before low bass and brass takes over in a powerful, marching rhythm. After a short horn statement, the cue fades into softer rhythmics that lay the groundwork for a sweeping rendering of the original Guild Wars theme, first on solo trumpet and then on horn. From this moment on, you’ll be hooked. The first cue is succeeded by the glorious “Overture from Eye of the North”: a track, which presents the new fanfare for Eye of the North. Indeed, Soule seems to have used every technique at his disposal in order to render the score’s opening minutes as sweeping and epic as possible; he succeeded excellently. His orchestral combinations of brass and choir make up for a truly captivating and adventurous spirit. He even manages to blend the original Guild Wars theme into the track before it comes to a mind-bogglingly bombastic conclusion with the full orchestra and choir playing in unison daring to shatter your speaker systems!

These powerful orchestrations don’t just make up the beginning, of course. In fact, the epic feel of grandeur flows like a central theme throughout the whole score. Among the most powerful tracks are certainly the triumphant “Tome of Rubicon (Dwarf Theme)” with its addictive trumpet phrases and honorable French horn melodies, and “Iron Footfalls” with its humable descending tonal progressions. The cues become even more enjoyable when they adapt motifs introduced in the overture as, for example, in the uplifting and adventurous “Under the Dark Span (Asura Theme)” or in the noble “Song of the Shiverpeaks (Norn Theme)”.

As a whole, the album not only offers exciting and exhilarating moments, but also pleases by its well-balanced variety in pace and volume: sometimes, the brass dominated parts of the score are traded in for calmer passages, especially when the game required something more subtle or suspenseful. Prime examples of this are the “Ballad of Ice and Snow”, a moving piece inspired by the Romantic era of classical music and “Through the Asura Gates” with its solemn piano solo; but Soule also worked with more eerie or aggressive sounds: “Livia’s Heart” features uneasy string lines and “The Shattering of the World (Destroyer Theme)” threatens to crush you with its allied brass sections.

Looking purely at the technological side of the score, Soule’s array of synthesizers seems to have become much more powerful since the original Guild Wars. This was already apparent in Supreme Commander, but he definitely kicked it up notch for Eye of the North. The trumpets in particular will be hard to distinguish from real counterparts and even Soule’s most preferred instrument, the French horn, has acquired a more natural and detailed tonal quality.

The whole album runs a generous 70 minutes, and Soule manages to keep you captivated over the course of its running time by varied orchestrations, thematic material and motif development. In the end, Guild Wars: Eye of the North stands as one of Soule’s most accomplished works to date. If you’ve lost interest in the franchise due to his average scores for Factions and Nightfall, you’d do well to give the series another try with Eye of the North. When you’ve never heard a Guild Wars score, you should definitely start with this one, but be warned: once you get into it, there’s no turning back.