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Monday, December 01, 2008


Gears of War 2
Music by Steve Jablonsky
Sumthing Else SE-2053-2 (US)
27 Tracks 62:26 mins

Although Kevin Riepl did a very fine job of scoring the original Gears of War game, the generally better-known Steve Jablonsky got the nod for the sequel. Jablonsky has in recent times written some pretty blockbusting music for films like Transformers and Dragon Wars and here, working with the Skywalker Symphony Orchestra, has produced some more powerful stuff in the same vein. Of course, coming from the Hans Zimmer school of film scoring, Jablonsky mixes electronic and choral elements with the orchestra to come up with the familiar what used to be called "Media Ventures sound."
The opening track, "Return of the Omen," gets us off to an ominous choral start; with "Hope Runs Deep" continuing in quite desolate mode, but soon picking up and becoming an heroic mover, with full choral support. The initially stealthy "Green as Grass" follows, but again it picks up and moves along in martial mode; leading to the full-on combat of "Expectations." And plenty more powerful, menacing and heroic action cues follow, like the percussive rhythms of "Finally, a Lead;" the inspirational "Armored Prayer;" the desperate "Hold Them Off," "Derrick Chase"and "They Can Ride em;" the exciting "Hell Breaks Loose," with its almost demonic choral opening; the down-and-dirty "Bedlam;" "Breakneck" and "Racing to Extinction'" as pacy as their titles suggests; the weighty "Unexpected Changes;" and the seemingly unstoppable "March of the Horde," "Unsurmountable Odds" and "Frenzy."
In between, Jablonsky provides suitable tension and genuinely alien atmospheres; a rare reflective moment occurring in "With Sympathy," with its lament for female voice. The penultimate track sees the full-blown return of the main theme, first heard in "Hope Runs Deep;" with a brief pianistic reprise playing us out in "Autumn of Mankind."
I have no hesitation in recommending this as one of the most enjoyable action scores around at the moment, be it for a game, or film for that matter.
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