The Complete Two Towers: Disc Three

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – The Complete Recordings by Howard Shore and released by Reprise Records is a huge collection containing 3+ hours of music from the movie spread over three CDs and augmented by a video DVD documenting the soundtrack’s production. It’s so huge that a single review won’t do it justice, so instead, I’m blogging it. View the “The Complete Two Towers” category for the complete list of posts in this series.

  • Tracks: 14
  • Running Time: 1:01:12
  • Creator: Howard Shore
  • Label: Reprise Records / Warner Brother Records

The soundscape of the Two Towers takes a decidedly dramatic turn with Disc 3, befitting the movie’s thrilling finish. The sound is more musically diverse than the first two discs, and again, this should be a surprise — the action is more frenzied in the final third of the movie, which sees the assault on Helm’s Deep and the destruction of Sauramon’s forces and the siege of Isengard by the Ents.

“Aragorn’s Return”: The man who will be king isn’t quite as dead as people believed, and he returns in a surging, uplifting track that perfectly captures this sudden reversal. In a role-playing game, this track could be played as the cavalry comes thundering over the horizon, but note that the track’s final 50 seconds end on a more subdued note — so this should be used for a dramatic surge followed by time for reflection.

“The War is Upon Us”: A somber, tension filled track that reminiscent of a gathering storm. Play it as the heroes walk the wall in anticipation of the coming battle.

“Where is the Horse and Where is the Rider?”: Another good background track to play before the battle. It’s a longer track — 6:15 minutes — and easily loopable. I’d play it while setting up the battle map, laying down the terrain, and generally getting the table ready for the big battle.

“The Host of the Eldar”: Another martial, anticipatory track. This one corresponds to the arrival of the elves at Helm’s Deep, and as such features choral singing backed by drums. It turns instrumental about halfway through, reinforced by the standard human theme.

“The Battle of Hornburg”, The Breach of the Deeping Wall”: And the battle is joined! These two tracks combined weigh in at a little under six minutes. There are plenty of horns and drums to keep the adrenaline flowing, and combined these tracks are perfect for the opening sorties of the battle.

“The Entmoot Decides”:  The tempo of the disc downshifts dramatically with this track, as befits the meeting of giant sentient trees.

“Retreat Featuring ‘Haldir’s Lament'”: The dead litter the battlefield. The PCs morale is broken. They must fall back, and naturally “Retreat” makes the perfect track for that moment, with plenty of fast-rising crescendos underscored by ominous drums and horns. Great stuff.

“The Nazgul Attack”: A powerful choral song that steadily ratchets up the tension, ending with a crescendo that crashes into “Théoden Rides Forth”. Perfect for that moment in your game where the forces of evil are about to overwhelm our heroes.

“Théoden Rides Forth Featuring Ben Del Maestro”: This track isn’t nearly as overwhelmingly triumphant as I remember in the movie. It’s still a good battle song though, and definitely one worth having cued up.

“”Long Ways To Go Yet” featuring “Gollum’s Song” Performed By Emiliana Torrini”: A beautiful, haunting song, sung from the perspective of Gollum as his wretched little soul struggles between his greed for the Ring, and the sudden mercy and compassion of Frodo. This track is about two and a half minute’s longer than the “Gollum’s Song” found on the original Two Towers soundtrack, with the additions consisting of instrumental music that builds on both Gollum and the LOTR themes.

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