July 2004 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Gary S. Dalkin
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings / July /

Wrath Unleashed  
Music composed by Jack Wall
  Promo release only
Running Time: 43.27

wrath unleashed

Music for computer games has really come on over the last twenty years. Gone are the squeaky, tinny, limited electronic sounds of the Super Nintendo or the Sega Megadrive. Instead we now have full orchestral works of film score quality that can be just as skilful and dramatic as anything heard in the movies. One such case is Jack Wall's monumental score for the new LucasArts game Wrath Unleashed. I think it's not over-the-top to say that if a new composer suddenly popped up and produced a soundtrack like this for a major motion picture the entire film score community would collectively sit up and take notice. This is a mammoth fantasy epic work complete with just about every conceivable trapping you could imagine.

There is militaristic brass and sweeping strings, choral chants and driving percussion, there's enough verve and drama to stir the emotions and while music like this must of course have its influences, such as the obligatory (but never unwelcome) 'The Planets', through to the work of modern day film score maestros like Basil Poledouris or Jerry Goldsmith, in this case it's all a plus because the music never sounds like a retread or even a homage. It's all brimming with its own vitality and grandeur.

This is an impressive, rousing work with strong thematic elements representing various different realms within the game world, and some really outstanding individual tracks like the driving 'Dark Order Battle' and the choral delights of 'Dark Order Victory'. Ironically, in some ways there is almost too much of a good thing as the score really would have benefited from slowing down a little and displaying more subtlety with some quieter moments to punctuate the bombast. As it is there is a relentlessness that is probably inherent in computer game music as there is perhaps less time for introspection, and on album this can become a little overwhelming.

Within the score there is even a place for electric guitar on 'Dark Chaos Battle', although this works less well than the more conventional instrumentation. Wall's decision to spice things up here to represent the chaotic nature of the realm and its inhabitants is perfectly understandable on an artistic level, but unfortunately it becomes less listenable as music in its own right. Far better is the stirring Poledouris-like 'Light Order Realm 1' with all of the majesty and heroism you might expect and these qualities are carried through into 'Light Order Battle 1' and 'Light Order Victory' to provide a most satisfying climax to the CD.

A very enjoyable, polished effort from Mr Jack Wall, which given the fact that this is a LucasArts production may very well lead to some feature film assignments. Judging by his achievement here that can only be a good thing.

Mark Hockley

***(*) 3 1/2

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