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Jukebox Heroes: The Burning Crusade's soundtrack


World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade has always been a contentious expansion, with some remembering it quite fondly and others declaring it a blight upon the game. It was certainly a risk, with the relocation to a completely new world (sort of) and the addition of flying mounts. As far as this column is concerned, its greatest contribution to the franchise was to finally add the first new music to the game since it launched.

So how did the score fare? As always, that's a subjective question based on taste, but for me, I'm not that much of a fan. I've always felt it's one of the weaker World of Warcraft soundtracks -- not horrible, mind you, just weaker, with fewer standout selections and a lot more filler that I could just as well never hear again.

Derek Duke returned to help compose, along with Russell Brower and Matt Uelmen. The physical CDs of these soundtracks shipped with the collector's editions, although you can easily find it on iTunes these days. Unfortunately, the released soundtrack is incomplete, as we'll soon see.

So what were the best songs of The Burning Crusade? Let's find out!

1. The Dark Portal

This is otherwise known as the cinematic trailer music, so while it was heard a lot leading up to the release of the expansion, it didn't get a lot of play in the actual game itself. It's a good representation of what a bulk of the soundtrack was going to be: dark, gothic, and a gaggle of monks going "OOoooOOOoo!"

The first minute growls and hisses as it builds up to a break at 0:56. It could have gotten really loud and obnoxious easily, but instead, the dark part is held back while snippets of something more beautiful slips in. Then it's all "BUM BUM BUM!" at 1:50, but it's the good kind of bum: toe-tapping and non-homicidal.

2. The Burning Legion

Replacing the login music was almost like sacrilege to some, although I always thought that The Burning Crusade's main theme sounded quite a bit like the original. It's a little more urgent with the strings and choir, of course, but eminently listenable.

The harsh opening is tempered by a softer seduction that begins at 1:15. If you imagine it as the theme music to the titular legion that's marching to war, it actually gets goosebump-raising. My favorite part is at 3:06, as the tempo speeds up and the legion starts to charge across the sheet music.

3. Silvermoon City

This track is a good example of why I'm not the biggest fan of this soundtrack. This theme might be cool to hear once, but it's just too... heavy... to hold up to repeated listenings. There are a lot of great parts in here, no doubt, especially the bits with the happy trumpets and the pouring rain at the end. But it exhausts rather than recharges me when I hear it, if that makes any sense.

4. Azuremyst Isle

Let's get away from all that bombastic showmanship for some ambient tranquility, shall we? This track, which became the theme of one of the new starter areas, is something you just want to wrap yourself up in and fall asleep to. There's a light droning in the background as a flutist occasionally shows up to trill a few notes and then head off on a union-approved break.

It's nothing to write home about, but I've always been partial to it.

5. The Tower of Karazhan

I have sincerely fond memories of Karazhan, a 10-man raid through a haunted castle. It's perhaps one of the only times in my gaming career that I ever raided regularly, and I did that in part because I thought the whole place was pretty groovy to see.

The soundtrack to it is equally wonderful. It's a perfect song for Halloween, with a lot of ambient noises (cackling, doors creaking, clinking glasses, thunder cracking, footfalls) and a dour organ taking us for a ride. Unfortunately, this is only part of the whole Karazhan suite, so if you're interested in hearing the full version, you're going to need to rely on some fan's dedication.

6. Terokkar Forest

World of Warcraft's released soundtracks aren't skimpy, but neither are they complete. Some tracks simply aren't there, including this theme for the Terokkar Forest zone. I've heard a lot of people say that this is one of their favorite areas just for the music alone, and I can see why.

It's peaceful, with a slow organ entering the fray early on. It's peaceful, sure, but it hints at the wilds as well. It's certainly a lot less grating than some of the other areas, and I just wanted to share it with you as an example of how an official soundtrack often only scratches at the surface of what's available.

That's it for today! What was your favorite track from this album, and do you agree or disagree with my stance on its overall quality?

MMOs aren't just about looks; they also have great soundtracks that often go unnoticed. Heroes don't stand for that! Every Tuesday, Jukebox Heroes will check out a game's soundtrack and feature the best tunes to share and discuss. Your DJ for the hour is Justin Olivetti, and the request line is open!

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