The Two Towers provides gamers with a second invigorating soundtrack to augment their campaign’s audiospace, albeit one that isn’t quite as successful as its predecessor, The Fellowship of the Ring. As a movie soundtrack, The Two Towers is very enjoyable, providing an epic, cinematic score to a movie that sweeps across the vast lands of Middle Earth.
However, its not as easy to use for background music as Fellowship was, largely because the range of the music is so great. The soundtrack includes subdued, relaxing segments that lead into explosive, heroic overtures, and unfortunately, if you have the volume up high enough to hear the subdued versions, you’ll find yourself — and your game — overwhelmed by the epic portions. If you turn down the volume so that the epic portions sound good, the then you lose the subdued sections entirely to the normal background chatter of the game.
If you use iTunes or some other MP3 player to manage your tracks, then these audio problems can be somewhat alleviated by suppressing the problem tracks. Using a proper sound system might also help, but if you’re playing the tracks on a computer or small stereo, then your best bet is to pick and choose.
On a related note, the soundtrack — far more so than Fellowship — is divided into strident and ethereal tracks. DMs looking to use the soundtrack in game would do well to group like tracks with like, using the elven-inspired “Evenstar” and “The Leave Taking” tracks for suitably subdued encounters.
Overall, I found that The Two Towers is a good soundtrack, but not one that you can just throw in the CD player, hit play, and expect it to complement your game. It requires a certain amount of work and forethought. That said, away from the gaming table, it’s perfect for inspirational music when preparing for the game.
Foundations of Stone: The track opens with a brooding, subdued sound that recalls the adventures of the first movie, before breaking into more militant, bass-driven, choral tracks that anticipate the battles to come.
The Taming of Smeagol: As befits its subject matter, this track is exceptionally low key, with soft notes that seek to caress the listener’s ear. Unfortunately for gamers, it is a little too low key — during a game you can barely hear the track, which in turn causes a temporarily lull in the background music.
Riders of the Rohan: This track explodes to life after the mellow “Taming of Smeagol” and instantly calls to mind heroic riders and their horses charging across a vast, desolate plain. Perfect for those times when the party is in wide open areas — on a chase of their own, traveling to a dungeon, or guarding a caravan from enemy attack.
The Uruk-Hai: This a thunderous, invigorating track that rises to a series of grand crescendos. Great to play as the party is roaring into battle.
The King of the Golden Hall: A regal-themed piece that begins with an echo of the Lord of the Rings theme and then continues with subdued, sonorous notes evoking a stately king, with perhaps just the slightest edge of desperation that ends with ominous bass notes and an increased tempo that brings home the threat faced by Rohan.
Evenstar: A mystical track perfect for those elven encounters, which (of course) is exactly how it was used in the movie. The ethereal sound floats above the other tracks, providing a moment’s respite from the emotion and thunder of the rest.
The White Rider: The calm of “Evenstar” is shattered by this intense choral track heralding Gandalf.
Treebeard: Low and ponderous notes begin this track, as befits its subject matter: the treant Treebeard. This is another of those tracks whose low-points then to get lost in the din of the gaming table.
Helm’s Deep: Epic, simply epic. Thunderous drums call the combatants to battle, evoking the clashing of swords and the rattle of siege weapons. Perfect for playing as you’re setting up the battlefield — players will undoubtedly get chills as they see you layout a legion of enemies for them to combat with this music playing in the background.
The Forbidden Pool: Dark and mystical, this track is perhaps best used as part of a dungeon crawl, when you’re in a text-heavy portion of the adventure with lots of background text. It’s one of those tracks that has a tendency to get lost amongst the chatter, but at the same time, it won’t compete with you while you’re speaking.
Isengard Unleashed: An excellent battle song, as befits the destruction of one of the two towers. Throw this one on after “Helm’s Deep”, when the party is in the thick of the fight.
Gollum’s Song: While wholly inappropriate as background music for an RPG session, Gollum’s Song is one of the beset tracks on the album. Emiliana Torrini captures the tortured and conflicted mindset of Gollum as he struggles between subservient servant and murderous villain.
- Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Soundtrack
- by Howard Shore
- Warner Brothers
- Duration: 1.2 hours
- Buy it from Amazon.com