Maybe it's having just listened to hours upon hours of the Lord of the Rings soundtrack, but I truly enjoyed the 300 soundtrack's martial mix of choral singing, Mediterrean/Middle Eastern-inspired music and a touch of hard rock explosiveness.
The album has 25 tracks, from the opening "To Victory" to the final "Remember Us" and clocks in at 59 minutes, 43 seconds. 300 thunders, roars, and tears its way across the soundscape, contrasting mightily with the varied, elaborate themes of the Lord of the Rings. Listen to the album online through Warner Bros.'s web site or check it out on Amazon.com.
As is our custom when I receive new soundtracks to review, I immediately played this CD for my friends during one of our Friday Game Days. The immediate response was positive, but I think our appreciation for it has grown in subsequent weeks as our " Khelez-Mar: The Dwarven Imperative" campaign took off. Certainly mine has -- the alternatively martial, exotic and thunderous themes fit the campaign's themes of war against the humanoid horde and adventures at the edge of civilization particularly well.
I can't speak to the finer musical qualities of the soundtrack -- I just don't have the vocabulary -- so for that check out A.L. Sirois' excellent review on SCIFI.com. Here are my thoughts on album's usefulness at the gaming table.
The Music Tracks
"To Victory": The opening deep male choral singing, thunderous drums, Eastern accents and the culminating female chorus makes this a tremendous introductory track. It's impossible to not be bumped up after listening to this track, and it would serve as a great opener for the start of a martial campaign.
"The Agoge": A more traditional introductory track that starts off lofty and inspirational but ends on a darker, more ominous note. Good for that moment when the adventuring party arrives at the entrance to the dungeon and is debating what action to take next.
"Returns A King": A brooding, nearly overpowering track celebrating the return of the new king from his battle with the wolf. Perfect for setting up a battle -- imagine a storm brewing on the horizon and then surging in, and you've got a good mental picture of this track.
"The Ephors" & "Cursed by Beauty:" Subdued and mysterious. Perfect for the entrance into that lost temple of the ancients.
"Goodbye My Love": Melancholy and dramatic, it’s the musical equivalent of the long goodbye. Might be good for the same purpose as it served in the army -- preparations for the army (or adventures) going off to war, but the touches of romance in it probably won't work for most campaigns.
"No Sleep Tonight": "Is this going to be a standup fight Sarge, or another bug hunt?" Your players will know the answer to that question when this darkly ominous track plays while they're being hunted by something monstrous and horrible.
"The Hot Gates" At times, 300 seems part heavy metal music video, part video game. This is the track that epitomizes that fusion of kickass musical fury. It opens with a swift kick to the head, before dropping back to a calmer (if ominous) baseline.
"Fight in the Shade": Getting ready to fight something terrible and evil, then play this track.
"Fever Dream": "Hot Gates" redux. Powerful, powerful stuff that makes you want to grab up a sword and go to war. So what are you waiting for? When the battle is joined, play this track.
"Xerxes's Final Offer:" If someone asks you if you're a god … you say yes. Unless that god is Xerxes, in which you throw a spear at his head. An awesome track for any epic verbal/non-combat confrontation.
"The God King Bleeds": The name says it all. Use this in the biggest, most brutal fight you have, be it with a dragon, demon or some other impossible opponent. If the players in my D&D campaign ever do fight the ancient black dragon known as Woryx, this will be the track that is playing. It will perfectly complement the imagined sound of their bones dissolving into an acid-thick slurry.
The movie 300 isn't for everyone, but if you're looking to diversify your gaming music library with a sound that's different from everything else you have, then you need to get this soundtrack.