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Darksiders II OST
Catalog Number: SE-3022-2
Released On: August 14, 2012
Composed By: Jesper Kyd
Arranged By: Jesper Kyd
Published By: Sumthing Else
Recorded at: Unknown
Format: 1 CD, Digital
Buy this album from Amazon
Tracklist:

Disc One
01 - The Makers Theme
02 - Into Eternity
03 - Makers in the Outlands
04 - Story of the Makers
05 - The Corruption
06 - The Makers Overworld
07 - The Makers Fight Back
08 - The Floating City
09 - Crystal Spire
10 - Trouble in Eden
11 - Stains of Heresy
12 - The Abyssal Plains
13 - The Rod of Arafel
14 - The Crowfather
Total Time:
39'45"

Disc Two
01 - The Dead Plains
02 - The Plains Await
03 - Supernatural Desert
04 - The Eternal Throne
05 - City of the Dead
06 - The Crypt
07 - Death Brings Hope
08 - Plains of Death
09 - Demon Realm
10 - Into the Shadows
11 - Lord of the Black Stone
12 - Dead Plains Reprise
Total Time:
37'49"

As someone who has come late to the Jesper Kyd party, I feel that it is my obligation to say that, prior to some of his most recent works, I was almost totally unfamiliar with this composer. I knew I liked what I had heard in the Assassin's Creed games (or, at least, the one of them that I've actually played), but beyond that, I knew little about his music. Recently, I caught on (again, very late to the party) that this might be a guy I want to keep my ears on. I brushed up on Hitman, Assassin's Creed, and the original Borderlands, and found myself highly impressed by what I heard. With all of that in mind, I approached the two-disc soundtrack of Darksiders II with admittedly higher expectations than perhaps any of those other albums.

It didn't matter, though, because this is some of Kyd's greatest work to date.

The album opens with "The Makers Theme," a somber piece with a forlorn-sounding flute evoking a sense of someone crying out behind some soft string plucking. Eventually, the instruments give way to an eerie electronic soundscape that sounds as though someone is pounding on the earth from below. As an album opener, it bears with gusto the considerable burden of setting a tone for the rest of the music to follow. The listener is overwhelmed with a feeling of melancholic majesty that has a real sense of weight and scale. A more succinctly way for me to phrase my thoughts would be to say that it is awesome.

"Makers in the Outlands" brings me to memories of running around the fields of Pandora in Borderlands, with pulsing guitar and tambourine pounding away alongside the same 'banging on the earth' sound that was present in track one. Tension rises here, and fans of Kyd's previous work will find that the complexity of composition present in much of his work is on display in full force here.

Throughout much of the first disc, it becomes clear that the sounds we've heard in the first few tracks are consistent throughout. The distorted guitars are ever-present, carrying motifs of the same melody from track-to-track. What struck me as I listened was, as I mentioned before, the complexity of the compositions. Each features a large number of traditional instruments as well as synth sounds layered on top of one another, yet they are weaved together into a very consistent and cohesive package. This is very evident in "The Corruption," a lengthy track where we get some of the first glimpses of "hope" in the album. The melody and sound builds off of what we have heard already, starting out with the same echoing sounds and foreboding, layering more sound on top, gradually breaking down to the simplest of music box tones, and then building back up to a hopeful crest in the latter part of the song.

Towards the end of disc one, "Stains of Heresy" is a decidedly more action-packed song that seems appropriate for some sort of revelatory cutscene or boss battle, and wouldn't be out of place in a dramatic action scene in a film score. "The Rod of Arafel," conversely, sounds like it could have been ripped straight out of the Diablo series. Semi-distorted acoustic guitars twang away against a rather sparse soundscape, and you'd be hard pressed not to think of the fields around Tristram when listening to this one.

Disc 2 opens with "The Dead Plains," an excellent midpoint track that gives the listener the impression that things have descended much farther into darkness than where we began. Slow-paced, moving with a sense of steadily rising dramatic weight, it sets the tone as one that is much more grim and hopeless than what has preceded it. Jumping ahead to "The Eternal Throne," we get back to the same sort of electro-guitar-ambience fusion that was prevalent early on the first disc, though now with a decidedly darker slant to it. There's an almost animalistic sense of progression to the music at this point, as though things are becoming more beastly the further we delve.

We begin to move towards a climax with "Demon Realm." A pounding heartbeat thrums away, as several layers of synths join with a variety of cacophonous sounds. Midway through, a rapid and organic drumbeat takes over, giving a real sense that we have descended to the lowest layer of something dark and elemental. Immediately following is "Into the Shadows," an appropriately named piece that strips down the musical presence of the album to a bare, foreboding rawness. The listener can almost feel that Death has come to his final destination as the song melts away into nothingness.

"Lord of the Black Stone" is presumably a final battle track, and it takes all of the various motifs and bits of sound from many of the previous tracks and fuses them into a percussive and climactic movement. A screeching, high-pitched synth sound (not unlike the one used to denote scenes with the T-1000 in Terminator 2) squeals out above all but the heaviest drumbeats, giving the track a frightening and organic feeling of urgency. If this isn't the end of the road, it certainly sounds like it.

The second disc, as a whole, is much darker and more ominous, presumably because Death has made his way to the lowest bowels of whatever hellish realm he's found himself in. There's a clear distinction, at least in my mind, between each disc here. There are motifs and melodies carried over from track to track, and there's a kind of delineation between the first and second halves. But what's the takeaway? Carefully wrought, the music of Darksiders II is complex, emotive, and incredibly engaging. The composer's hallmarks are on full display here, and many of his signature patterns and sound types can be easily picked out. Fans and newcomers alike will find a lot to like in this soundtrack-- because for me, it's certainly his best music to date.

Reviewed by: Stephen Meyerink



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