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Assassin's Creed Brotherhood by Jesper Kyd

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood

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Assassin's Creed Brotherhood (Soundtrack) by Jesper Kyd

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood
Composed by Jesper Kyd
Ubisoft Music (2010)

Rating: 8/10

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“What BROTHERHOOD does do is turn up the intensity and drama. It is a polished and coherent extension, albeit one that lacks something of the flair and personality of its predecessors.”

The Legacy Continues
Review by Marius Masalar


After wowing audiences with the transformative improvement from ASSASSIN’S CREED to ASSASSIN’S CREED II, JESPER KYD is called upon yet again to impress, this time for ASSASSIN’S CREED: BROTHERHOOD. Though it is technically an entirely separate title, AC: BROTHERHOOD does not occur in an entirely different time period and environment; instead, it is a continuation of the story of Ezio from the second game as he gathers a brotherhood of assassin’s to his cause and seeks his revenge against the mighty Borgia family.

Likewise, the score fails to distinguish itself as notably as the second did from the first, which is understandable considering it is essentially just an extension of the material that KYD produced for ASSASSIN’S CREED II. What BROTHERHOOD does do is turn up the intensity and drama. It is a polished and coherent extension, albeit one that lacks something of the flair and personality of its predecessors.

“Master Assassin” (1) opens the album with a cinematic and rousing power anthem, familiar in instrumentation and style though somewhat anonymous in theme. As with the previous scores, each environment gets its own musical treatment, though in this case nearly the entire game takes place in and around Rome. “City of Rome” (2) is an appropriately noble gameplay ambience, with stately (if oddly medieval) fiddles scratching a deliberate theme above a nondescript and delicate backdrop. The cue captures the grandiose feel of Rome without drawing too much attention to itself.

“Cesare Borgia” (3) pulls us into far darker territory, with alarming male choral shouts and creepy bell-like elements dissolving into a lonely monk chant. The crisp percussion and synth pulse of “Flags of Rome” (4) come together with a quiet metallic twanging and build to a propulsive and evocative ending with the familiar solo female vocalist returning again. “The Brotherhood Escapes” (5) is a huge escape cue that sounds almost like trailer music in its construction — and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it will be licensed as such in the future. Of course, no ASSASSIN’S CREED score would be complete without some impressive ambient works, and “Brotherhood of the Assassin’s” (6) delivers with a frightening and dark atmosphere that pulses and swells. Low piano stabs and large percussion hits set the stage for “The Pantheon” (7), one of the filmiest pieces on the album. It grows patiently from a simple rhythm to an evil-sounding march.

The abrupt ending is hardly noticed though, since “Villa Under Attack” (8) offers an even huger sound. Powerful brass are soon joined by the male choral shouts from “Cesare Borgia” and strings to produce a spectacular conflict cue overflowing with tension. Release comes swiftly with “Echoes of the Roman Ruins” (9), a peaceful and sensitive ambient cue with beautiful vocals chanting over a bed of strings and pure bells. This cue is favourably placed, since the following three ambient tracks all suffer from a certain anonymity that weakens their impression. It’s only in the last, “Roman Underworld” (12), that we start hearing KYD’s more creative side again with the eerie whispered vocals that emerge from the misty backdrop.

The insistent layered ticking of “Countdown” (13) is incredibly tense, and bringing the whispered vocals in overtop makes for a piece of music that makes you feel like you ought to be running from something as fast as you can. Perhaps it’s the Borgia. “Borgia – The Rulers of Rome” (14) is an oppressive track; perfect in its execution of a hopeless, tragic atmosphere. KYD draws subtle ecclesiastic parallels between the Borgia and the church by making use of the heavy choral elements and even a large organ extensively in this track. Slowly, “Ezio Confronts Lucrezia” (15) emerges from the darkness with a quick pace and conflicting mood. The ticking returns to emphasize the tension, this time joined by piano clusters.

The album’s closing stretch begins with “Battle in Spain” (16), another heavily percussive cue with male choir and drums duking it out. “Fight of the Assassins” (17) is a far more satisfying action sequence, with a diverse array of percussion and orchestral effects coming together for a climatic conflict. If you’ve noticed that the synth-heavy elements for the future plot have been strangely absent from ASSASSIN’S CREED: BROTHERHOOD so far, then you’ll be happy to know that they are once again heavily present at the album’s conclusion, as with the previous scores. “Desmond Miles” (18) is a plaintive theme for the over-hero, with a weighty string line playing over synth pads and arpeggios in an interesting blend of organic and synthetic. The combination is killer, and “VR Room” (19) develops it further with soft string pads and bells mingling with a broad-sounding ambience. The mood is uncertain but somehow beautiful. And it only gets better. In lieu of another ‘Animus’ track, we get “Apple Chamber” (20). Light synth arpeggios provide a digitized and scintillating curtain of sound. It is a track with more personality, arguably, than some of the synth-heavy ones in the previous two scores, and it finally feels like a more satisfying ending to the album. Choirs join in midway but there is never a particular climax, just a gentle swelling that eases in and out as the track closes as quietly as it began.

ASSASSIN’S CREED: BROTHERHOOD is not JESPER KYD’s best work, but it isn’t because it lacks quality by any means. KYD seems to produce his most compelling material when he’s being challenged to innovate and explore, and the familiar settings of this sequel/expansion have left him treading water in areas he’s already explored. While the heightened drama and cinematic nature make this a fine album for fans to pick up, the appeal comes at the expense of a certain staleness and anonymity that is hard to shake.
 

Rating: 8/10

 

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Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Master Assassin 3:21  *****
2 City of Rome 5:33  ****
3 Cesare Borgia 2:22  **
4 Flags of Rome 2:37  ****
5 The Brotherhood Escapes 1:59  ****
6 Brotherhood of the Assassins 3:03  ****
7 The Pantheon 3:06  ****
8 Villa Under Attack 2:13  *****
9 Echoes of the Roman Ruins 2:51  *****
10 Borgia Tower 2:15  ****
11 Borgia Occupation 3:03  ****
12 Roman Underworld 3:46  **
13 Countdown 3:31  ****
14 Borgia - The Rulers of Rome 3:57  ****
15 Ezio Confronts Lucrezia 2:56  *****
16 Battle in Spain 1:40  ****
17 Flight of the Assassins 2:39  ****
18 Desmond Miles 4:41  ****
19 VR Room 2:44  ***
20 Apple Chamber 4:55  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 63 minutes  

 

 
   

 

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