Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 by Lorne Balfe [Original Themes by Hans Zimmer] (Review)

Well here it is folks. Almost 7 months after the release of the game we have the official Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 score release. For the past 7 months I’ve been searching through the nearly 7 hour complete score looking for the themes and pieces I love, but alas you can move that game rip aside because here we have a complete rounded listening experience.

I reviewed this score back in December based off playing the game and listening to the massive 7 hour complete game rip that made it onto the internet (don’t worry, I redeemed myself by purchasing this album). With around 52-minutes on this release we get a real mixed album with full tracks and the experience is much better.

I’ll recap what I said last time. Hans Zimmer started the “modern warfare” sound in 2001 with his genre defining score to Black Hawk Down. Since then many composers even along the lines of Thomas Newman (Jarhead) and Danny Elfman (The Kingdom) have tried to mimic this style. The hard electronics, electric guitar and ethnic percussions have become staple to modern warfare films. Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was the previous installment in this branching game series. That score was composed by Stephen Barton with heavy influence and thematic work by Harry Gregson-Williams. It’s the same case here where Lorne Balfe composed this score with heavy influence and thematic work from Hans Zimmer. A few of Zimmer’s collaborators also helped tackle the massive project.

So is this score Black Hawk Down 2? Not at all. In fact it’s different than what Stephen Barton and Harry Gregson-Williams did last time. I think the best way to describe this score is that it’s the “modern warfare” sound infused with the style of Zimmer’s 90’s action scores. Some of the themes and structures call back to Crimson Tide and The Rock while a few tracks here will remind you of recent work like The Dark Knight. The experience overall is a bit overwhelming but incredibly satisfying. Just think about? In the 7 months since the game has come out the music has become an iconic staple. In fact you could say that Zimmer did a better job than Harry Gregson-Williams of creating more identifiable themes to create a sonic identity for the game. Every time I start a multiplayer match and a little snippet of score plays as the clock starts its countdown to start I do smile. Lorne Balfe does deserve the credit for pulling everything together though. With such a massive scope and so many people working on a project I’m sure it’s easy to lose sight of things, but Balfe managed to pull everything together nicely.

So, while the whole experience can be a bit jumbled it’s an incredibly effective score that has a visceral intensity to match the game and raise it to a memorable level. It’s very nice to have this album with all the themes nicely arranged.

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