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Jukebox Heroes: Helm's Deep's soundtrack


Well this was a particularly pleasant surprise! As the resident Lord of the Rings Online writer around these here parts, I've been pretty excited about this week's Helm's Deep release. I totally did not expect Turbine to give away the entire soundtrack for free on SoundCloud a week ago, especially after selling Riders of Rohan's score as a digital album.

But that's what happened, and I am very much not complaining. While the esteemed Chance Thomas did not compose the second part of the Rohan saga, the studio did make the effort to create an original score in-house instead of just rehashing previous tracks. The result is an album of 25 new tunes for us to evaluate in anticipation of the next chapter of LotRO.

So I threw out my original plans for this week's column, microwaved up some coffee, and gave the new score a listen. It was difficult narrowing the field down to six standout tracks, but the coffee was strong and so was my will. Let's take a listen through Helm's Deep, shall we?

1. Triumphant Will

I'm going to start here because I assume that this is the main theme for the expansion. One thing that's quickly apparent with these tracks is that many of them were made with a synthetic orchestra (vs. Rohan's live one), although I would vouch for a few tunes like Triumphant Will having real instruments.

Either way, it's a fairly rousing tune that's slightly in the vein of Rohan's LOTRO Legacy track. It's a call to arms and to action, and one can easily imagine an army on horseback charging across fields while this plays on the soundtrack. I'm less-than-enchanted with the vocal elements; maybe it's just me, but they seem a little forced and fake.

2. Evil Invades

Sometimes dark and ominous can actually be kind of... fun. Evil Invades may sound like a sinister track with more noise than melody, but that's not the case. There's some passionate guitar work and other heavy-handed instruments laying down a relentless beat. Evil may be coming, but at least it's doing so in style.

3. Dark Strike

Stick out the boring opening notes because gradually this tune develops into a quietly chilling piece that's worth hearing. Again, I like the guitar (which stays firmly in the background) but not so much the artificial choir. It's a tune that's long on foreboding and tension, that's for sure.

4. Rebuilding Loss

Am I crazy or does this sound a little like what you'd find in a spaghetti western? It certainly sounds like it to me. The longer this song goes on, the more I grow to like it. You can hear that hope come through as the title suggests, the dawn of a new day. So saddle up, pard'ner!

5. Tavern Lore

I'm so happy that Helm's Deep included a trio of tavern tracks. LotRO's been well-known for its tavern ditties, and this one in particular stacks up with the best that the Shire has to offer. This is just such a serene piece that puts me in the mindset of a roaring fireplace and a good pint of ale.

6. Preparation

This track has "movie action scene" written all over it. I can't stop jiggling my leg when I listen to it, especially after it picks up. Aw yeah, you just know something awesome's going to happen after a score like this. Ride forth, and so on!

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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