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 “Blogging the Complete Two Towers” tag for the complete list of posts in this series.
Like its predecessor this disc is packed with music you won’t hear on the abridged soundtrack, and its audible gold for anyone who loves the movies … or wants to find some musical inspiration for their role-playing games. I won’t review every track, but I’m going to touch on most of them, offering my thoughts on the music and who it might be used in a fantasy role-playing game.
The standout tracks on it are the alternatively triumphant and tragically sad “Theodon King”, the stirring battle hym of “The Wolves of Isengard”, and the quietly beautiful “Arwen’s Fate”, but the entire disc makes for an excellent listen.
Wandering, but not Lost, in the Middle
“Edoras”: It’s hard to find good tracks for city adventures (which is why I’ve avoided using music much in my urban campaign) which makes this one — which introduces the city of Edoras in The Two Towers — a good find. It’s not the perfect mood setter, but it has that slow, medieval feel that evokes cobblestone streets and thatch-roofed buildings.
“Theoden King”: The king awakens from his long, debilitating slumber to find his son dead. The track begins triumphant — Theoden has been freed from the vice of Saruman, but then it turns heart-wrenchingly somber with “The Funeral of Theodred”, performed by Miranda Otto. It’s unfortunate that “The Funeral” is embedded in the larger song; it’s a hauntingly beautiful piece that really deserved its own track (and on an album this big, why not give it one?). It could be a useful track for royal audiences during a role-playing game, but you’d need to edit out jarring “Funeral” section in the middle to avoid shocking your players out of the moment.
“Escape from Edoras”: Despair and dread ride with the humans fleeing Edoras; great to play when your players are getting desperate, and you want to reinforce that mood.
“The Wolves of Isengard”: Every hero needs a battle hymn, and “The Wolves of Isengard” provides. Choral voices crash against powerful drums, culminating with a crescendo of tension and sound that’s abruptly ended by the “Refuge at Helm’s Deep”.
“The Voice of Saruman”: Ominous and potentially deafening, with deep, slow sounding trumpets heralding the destructive forces of the fallen white wizard. A great, but short track that stands out from the rest of the album because of its sonorous.
“Arwen’s Fate”: After three action-filled, darker tracks (“The Wolves of Isengard”, “Refuge at Helm’s Deep”, “The Voice of Saruman”), “Arwen’s Fate” is a welcome change. It’s filled with the choral dreams of elves, which has little role-playing use outside of a regal elven court scene, but which sure sounds beautiful.
“The Sons of the Steward”: Somber musical reflection on the divergent fates of Boromir and Faramir dominates the first half of this six minute song, before horns break the contemplative mood about halfway through.
“Rock and Pool”: Features a slow rising, tension-filled musical upsurge that plateaus into soft dramatic music before ending with a final, menacing climax. It’s a good track to play upon entering a particularly dangerous dungeon room or ominous situation.
“Faramir’s Good Council”: This understated track features softly dramatic music and choral singing that fits in well with the previous three tracks — combined they make almost 11 minutes of music useful for quiet confrontations on darkened streets.
- Tracks: 15
- Running Time: 1:03:59
- Creator: Howard Shore
- Label: Reprise Records / Warner Brother Records