Now that the newest Wow expansion release date has been announced, I’ve been looking back at the music tracks that I personally think made a huge difference to my appreciation of the series. Though I don’t play anymore, it still holds a great many memories. So without further ado, here they are with brief explanations:
10. Thaurissan’s Reach (Cataclysm)
One of the more recent tracks from Cataclysm. Cataclysm actually went back to the drawing board with the whole soundtrack here, because many players thought Blizzard had rather lost its way and that their music had since lacked the inspiration found within the original game. This was a welcome return to form in my book.
9. Forged in Blood (Wrath of the Lich King)
This is the first entry from the Wrath expansion and one of the very best. Though not as well known as some of the other tracks, this piece only really excels from 2:55 through to 4:17 (but this is not to say that what comes prior is anything bad). The downside is that after 4:17 it becomes terribly over dramatic with a complete change in tempo, putting it at odds with the majority of the piece and with seemingly no explanation as to why the change occurs. If it had simply ended at 4:17 then it would perhaps have featured in the top 3. To its credit though, the majority of the track is thankfully very good.
8. Tempest’s Wake (Cataclysm)
Yet again a brilliant return to form. I do have to admit that generally, Cataclysm took me by surprise with regards to the quality of the soundtrack. I felt the tempo of this particular track was just perfect for this expansion. I always felt that it was telling me a story because of the slight variations throughout (including a military beat part-way through). It also evoked a great deal of wonderment, though this was less fitting for that particular stage I felt (especially compared to the top 3 on my list for instance).
7. Stormwind (Pre-Cataclysm)
Well what can I say? Myself and many others will never forget first walking into Stormwind to be greeted with the kind of pomp usually reserved for royalty (trumpets blazing and all). The part I particularly liked about the track was not actually included in the official soundtrack version, though could often be heard playing before the Shattering event took place. It starts at 10:25 until the end.
6. The Culling of Stratholme (Wrath of the Lich King)
My sister and I would often talk about this track and how it became an unexpected hit for both of us. There is a definite change in tempo at the mid point at 3:08, though this was very much intentional as it correlated with the activities within the game’s Instance (when players initially progressed at a fairly leisurely pace until the 25 min race against time to grab the Bronze Drake Mount made this phase all the more prominent). It was actually from this 3:08 mark where the music motivated your team to push onward through the massive waves of Undead. This particular version was ripped from the game, which funnily enough was better than the one included within the official sound track. A great one well remembered.
5. Arthas My Son (Wrath of the Lich King)
This is not actually a piece from in-game, but from the introduction. It blew me away because having played Warcraft III up to and including The Frozen Throne, many of us knew that this expansion would finally conclude the events that took place between Arthas and the dreaded Lich King. While many people didn’t like the Wrath soundtrack, I felt it had some of the best samples ever to grace the series. It was a marked improvement on the Burning Crusade however which as you may have already noticed, hardly features on my list. Well, until you get to get to listen to number 4 on the list anyway 😀
4. Honor Hold (The Burning Crusade)
The music here is not unique to Honor Hold as it could also be found at Allerian Stronghold in Terokkar Forest (as I do not play the game anymore this is purely from memory and thus I may be wrong here), though it’s one of the best in the game. Together with many others, I used to spend time here just so I could listen to this wonderful yet mournful track. It was very fitting because players first came across it at Hellfire Peninsula – the starting area of Outland. It was also here that they first became aware of the massive struggles between the different factions at the Dark Portal, and this track kind of reinforced that sense of foreboding. It also evoked the kind of feelings one would have toward their fallen comrades; bringing into stark focus the combined efforts and sacrifices the Alliance and Horde were both making at the Dark Portal entrance. 2:43 is where the best part begins (or 2:21), and Chopin was supposedly the inspiration for this particular entry.
3. Totems of Grizzlemaw (Wrath of the Lich King)
Well well well. Though I have to admit that I never used to like this particular track, it’s now 3rd on the list. ToG is just a really beautiful piece because it brought the essence of the Grizzly Hill‘s natural habitat to players (‘habitat’ being an underlying theme you may notice for my top 3 entries). 0:00 to 1:56 is truly magnificent but which is followed by themes reminiscent of indigenous tribes people; which also happens to correspond with the region’s namesake and creatures found therein – the Grizzlemaw who practice Shamanism and Druidism. The track then returns to the original theme at around 4:21, making it a great piece both in terms of its inspired motivation and composition.
2. Ashenvale (Pre-Catacylsm)
This holds many memories for me (though not of cafés this time around ;)). My first Alliance character was a Night Elf and I still remember making my way through the various Night Elven lands, until I came across this wonderful tune. For me it evokes movement (at around 4 seconds in it is reminiscent of a locomotive) and nature (primarily due to the harp instrument) all at once, which rather fits in well with the concept of Night Elves; being sleek and stealthy. However it really excels in its use of vocals which I felt fleshes out the piece for me; adding another layer to the history together with the themes it conveys. Like the Totems of Grizzlemaw, it also complimented the natural habitat of the Elven kingdoms. I especially remember looking out into the enchanted forests with all manner of faeries flying about the place at around 2:47 on the track, and saying “wow, this is just unbelievably beautiful”.
1. Mountains Of Thunder (Wrath of the Lich King)
This is most definitely the best track in World of Warcraft in my view. No question in my mind about it. It’s magnificent! The number of things that this piece evokes are too difficult to put into words, suffice to say that it’s grand – epic rather! Set in the mountainous region of the Storm Peaks in Northrend, it was the perfect track for the setting – and no this had nothing to do with the fact that Ulduar was undoubtedly the best raid instance in the whole of the Wrath expansion (honest)! Home to Norse-like gods and glacial Giants, I always felt that this track – especially at around the 1:49 mark onward – brought about a sense of grandeur and wonderment. This was especially true when flying up to the Temple of Storms to admire the breathtaking views.
That’s it folks. Though there are many other tracks I haven’t included from various parts of the Warcraft Universe (including specific Instances, Raid Instances, BGs, Taverns, Festive events etc), this was only a Top 10, and so I had to seriously scuttle the numbers right down to the ones I particularly liked. I think you will agree though, that this list is much more than about the tracks themselves, but the thoughts and feelings they convey primarily from within the game’s setting (I’m talking less about personal emotional attachments here). For instance Mountains of Thunder, Ashenvale, Honor Hold and Culling for instance, each have their particular reasons for changes in tempo, but which nevertheless fit in and compliment the atmosphere and setting of those levels. Anyway I hope you enjoyed that and that those of you who will be getting Mists of Pandaria, have a great deal of fun on me!