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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim OGS
Catalog Number: N/A
Released On: November 11, 2011
Composed By: Jeremy Soule, Marke Lampert
Arranged By: N/A
Published By: DirectSong
Recorded At: N/A
Format: 4 CDs
Tracklist:

Disc One
01 - Dragonborn
02 - Awake
03 - From Past to Present
04 - Unbroken Road
05 - Ancient Stones
06 - The City Gates
07 - Silent Footsteps
08 - Dragonsreach
09 - Tooth and Claw
10 - Under an Ancient Sun
11 - Death or Sovngarde
12 - Masser
13 - Distant Horizons
14 - Dawn
15 - The Jerall Mountains
16 - Steel on Steel
17 - Secunda
18 - Imperial Throne
Total Time:
63'00"

Disc Two
01 - Frostfall
02 - Night without Stars
03 - Into Darkness
04 - Kyne's Peace
05 - Unbound
06 - Far Horizons
07 - A Winter's Tale
08 - The Bannered Mare
09 - The Streets of Whiterun
10 - One They Fear
11 - The White River
12 - Silence Unbroken
13 - Standing Stones
14 - Beneath the Ice
15 - Tundra
16 - Journey's End
Total Time:
56'04"

Disc Three
01 - Before the Storm
02 - A Chance Meeting
03 - Out of the Cold
04 - Around the Fire
05 - Shadows and Echoes
06 - Caught off Guard
07 - Aurora
08 - Blood and Steel
09 - Towers and Shadows
10 - Seven Thousand Steps
11 - Solitude
12 - Watch the Skies
13 - The Gathering Storm
14 - Sky Above, Voice Within
15 - Death in the Darkness
16 - Shattered Shields
17 - Sovngarde
18 - Wind Guide You
Total Time:
56'41"

Disc Four
01 - Skyrim Atmospheres
Total Time:
42'34"

I don't envy Bethesda when it comes to crafting a soundtrack for a game like Skyrim. Every player has a completely unique experience in quest order, item acquisition and general discovery, making the creation of a musical score a seemingly impossible task. Yet the latest Elder Scrolls title succeeds in using music to create a truly remarkable sense of place and scale. While nothing will stand out dramatically (aside from the thunderous Viking choir of the opening title screen), the music helps to enhance the rich tapestry of Tamriel's northern region.

What makes Skyrim's soundtrack so intriguing is the almost complete lack of musical familiarity outside of the game. I can't really hum any of the tunes from the game, but I can easily recognize the music while I'm playing. The bustling city music helps to make the world feel alive and lived in, while the ominous, bass-heavy chords in a cave or tomb enhance the isolation and loneliness of your travels. The battle music fares a bit worse in this area, as the drum-heavy beats and quick strings dramatically enter and retreat with the awareness of your foes. This is the one area the soundtrack truly suffers, as the music has little time to transition properly when a dragon suddenly drops out of the sky to spew burning hot lava at your face. Still, everything has a decidedly Viking or Norwegian feel to it. Sharp piano tones in a tavern actually sent a shiver down my spine and made me think about brewing a cup of coffee or downing an adult beverage to fight back the bitter cold.

My favorite track in the score is "Skyrim Atmospheres," which acts like a personal journey through the wilderness. The subdued music combines with scenic sounds heard on a typical forest trail. A babbling brook and chirping birds make you feel the natural splendor of the environment. Even when the game's occasional bugginess does its best to tear you out of Skyrim, Jeremy Soule's score helps to keep the illusion of a living world.

Skyrim's soundtrack won't stand out in your mind too long after hearing it, but it does make for wonderful music to listen to while reading a book. Better yet, put this music on while playing a tabletop RPG to immerse you in a fantasy world with a striking theme and true believability. The best compliment I can give to the soundtrack is that it conveyed the world setting of Skyrim better than any of the visual enhancements Bethesda poured into the new engine. Thanks to that Viking choir, I felt like a true Dragonborn even when the dragon I was facing turned on his taillights and starting flying backwards.

Reviewed by: Robert Steinman

I noticed the music while playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, a sadly rare occurrence with Western RPGs. The orchestral soundtracks given to these games are all too frequently ordinary and forgettable. They all sound the same. Many WRPG music composers favor atmosphere over melody, which makes for effective soundtracks, but not ones that can be easily remembered. For Skyrim, Jeremy Soule takes the middle road, creating moments both memorable and atmospheric.

The main theme, "Dragonborn," accurately establishes and conveys the tone of Skyrim before the player ever sees the world. The rousing masculine voices really do suggest a Nord fighting a dragon on a mountain amid fiercely falling snowflakes. The remainder of the soundtrack isn't as memorable as "Dragonborn," but there are highlights. In general, however, individual tracks seem less important than the overall feel, which is odd for a game in which the small moments are the most important.

Soule has perfected the wanderer's soundtrack. "Awake," "Distant Horizons," "Far Horizons," and "Sky Above, Voice Within" are all good for wandering, as are many others. "Far Horizons" and "Ancient Stones" are the most iconic and prototypical of the wandering songs, but "Frostfall" is my favorite, with its stirring violin. Considering how much time one spends wandering in Skyrim, these tracks tend to be lengthy and repetitive. Regardless, they're excellent for their designed purpose. Besides, wandering can be time consuming.

Soule also composed warmer, homey songs of comfort for the weary traveler. Inn songs like "The Bannered Mare" and "Around the Fire" are somewhat perfunctory, but pleasant. Dungeon tracks like "Shadows and Echoes" are typically minimalistic and bass-heavy. Battle themes and other "event" themes are more effective in context, as expected. Many contain some sort of backing choir, and a few echo the main theme, such as "One They Fear," which makes great dragon slaying music.

The fourth and final disc contains just one track, "Skyrim Atmospheres." Over forty minutes long, this track seeks to encompass the living world of Skyrim in its entirety. Ambient noises like chirping insects and crackling fire underscore music that creates a tone of vastness appropriate for the region of Skyrim.

Although not very original, Soule's Skyrim soundtrack establishes and maintains an appealing atmosphere. Soule composes masterful music for wandering, and this could be the soundtrack for a winter hike or stroll across tundra-like meadows. Don't expect swelling emotion or fantastic melodies, and you won't be disappointed.

Reviewed by: Kyle E. Miller



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