As a franchise, Star Trek is replete with terrific (and iconic) music. Star Trek VI remains one of my all-time favorite film scores, and who can listen to the opening notes of The Next Generation without being able to whistle and/or hum the whole thing? Of course, Star Trek has a lot of bad and forgettable music as well, which is probably par for a combined work of hundreds upon hundreds of hours of television and cinema.
I had high hopes for Star Trek Online's score upon first logging into the game, and the opening theme certainly did not disappoint. Kevin Manthei (Champions Online, City of Villains) delivers a stirring title track that is also one of my favorites, although the remainder of the score is much more lopsided. Some of it is so generic and harsh on the ears that I ended up turning off the soundtrack when I played STO. That's a shame because there are several equally excellent tracks deserving of a listen.
So today we're going to the stars. I hope you packed your undies and a warm sweater.
1. Campaign Theme
I can't recall hearing this in the game, but it is a nice chase track set to an urgent beat. I really like how it downshifts from blaring horns and strings to a more funky tone at 0:35. Instead of pounding on the same notes in an effort to ratchet up tension, the song goes through several metamorphoses, especially at 1:08.
In short, it's a track that's got a lot of energy to it. Something that makes you want to be in the thick of action when you hear it, not driving your starship to 7-11 or something.
2. Species 8472 Battle Theme
If you've ever heard Kevin Manthei's work on Invader Zim, this style of song is going to be very familiar to you. It's kind of an industrial electronic grunge thing, music fed through a machine that's unwilling to disgorge it without grinding it up a bit. It's also a type of music that you probably would never associate with saccharine Trek synth scores, but there you go. Your mileage may vary, but I kind of dig it.
3. Battlegroup Omega Theme
Serene and sweeping this song is not. It's a frantic, "oh my goodness, we're all going to die, aren't we?" pulse-pounding ride through two minutes of crazed percussion and unsettling horns. It would make, I think, an excellent alarm theme if you wanted to go from sleeping peacefully to clutching your heart and looking for the nearest defibrillator.
4. Romulan Battle Suite
If you have time to listen to only one song on this list, make it this one. An enterprising fan stripped several of the Romulan tracks from the game and wove it into an exciting 10-minute song that has me standing up and saluting nothing in particular.
The main theme makes a reprise here (which is why I didn't include it in this column), but it's surrounded by so much awesomeness that it takes a good thing and makes it even better. Again, we're not talking peaceful majesty of the stars in this track, but very aggressive battle music that sashays between darker moments and triumphant tunes.
5. Winter Event
Now, I am not unaware of the fact that many Star Trek Online players roundly detest the music, citing that it's just not in the same genre as that heard in the movies, TV series, and even other video games. I definitely agree that it's different, but I'm more or less OK with it. I guess it all comes down to expectations and personal taste.
So let's take a look at a lighter song, this from the game's winter event. It's almost reminiscent of Owl City's brand of lite electronica, and I actually think it fits in very well with the Star Trek universe. We've had plenty of times when characters end up in wondrous places, like the Nexus or the center of the galaxy or what have you, and the music has to pick up the slack to convey how incredible this all is. While a field of snow is probably not deserving of such magical tunes, it still feels like one of those moments. In any case, it's really easy on the ears, especially the flitting echoes from 1:44 on.
6. New Exploration 3
I love it when MMOs keep adding new music as the game is updated, and here we have something from one of the more recent patches to the game. It's a very short track, but it stands out to me for a catchy melody set to a quick tempo. If it were slowed down by half, it would probably sound very "traditional Trek," but I like the speed just fine here.
Those are my picks for favorite Star Trek Online tracks, so now I'll turn the mic over to you. What music from this game appeals to you?
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!