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Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway
by Ed Lima and Duncan Watt

Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway

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Brothers in Arms:  Hell's Highway (Soundtrack) by Ed Lima and Duncan Watt  

Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway
Composed by Ed Lima
& Duncan Watt
Sumthing Else Records (2008)

Rating: 7/10

Buy Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway (soundtrack) by Ed Lima and Duncan Watt from Amazon.com

 

10 Full Tracks.  Used by Permission

 

“Rather than attempt to reinvent the genre via the music, ED LIMA and DUNCAN WATT have sought to stay true to those traits which have made some of the more successful World War II projects so successful. ”

Giving 'Em Hell
Review by Christopher Coleman

Composers Ed Lima and Duncan Watt

"I'm going to absolutely infuse this with heroism and make it "American." - the bald eagle with the quiver of arrows in its claw. I do that proudly in those cases, because that was a fine hour, a fine time for fine men...and that's how you say, 'Thanks.'"

Ed Lima



Read the full interview with Ed Lima and Duncan Watt

Some three years after BROTHERS IN ARMS: ROAD TO HILL 30 and EARNED IN BLOOD introduced a new World War II franchise to gamers, GEARBOX SOFTWARE released its the third major installment; bringing the franchise to the next-gen platforms the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Riding in on the waves of fan and critical approval of the ROAD TO HILL 30, the second game, EARNED IN BLOOD, made a surprising detour from the storyline introduced its predecessor. That story centered around the life and exploits of Sergeant Matt Baker and his battles, both inner and outer, during the allied invasion of France. EARNED IN BLOOD turned the focus to Sergeant Red Hartsock, who once served under Baker. Now, for HELL'S HIGHWAY, we return to following Matt Baker, but Red Hartsock has come along side as well. They are together as a part of the doomed Operation Market Garden. The huge airborne offensive, launched in September 1944, was designed to place American, British and Polish paratroopers behind the German line, into Holland, and end the war by Christmas of that year. Baker, once again, leads a familiar cast of "brothers" in to take the city of Eindhoven and hold it against endless German counter-attacks. In the course of so doing, Sgt. Baker continues to lose men under his command thus further fracturing his already wounded psyche.

For BROTHERS IN ARMS: HELL'S HIGHWAY, Gearbox kept the music in-house with composer/audio director ED LIMA and collaborator, DUNCAN WATT taking the musical helm. This makes the third different composing combination for the franchise. The two previous games well established the distinguishing traits of this franchise's music. Once again, only cutscenes, menu screens, and end credits would receive any original scoring. And, once again, the score would reflect the musical sensibilities found in the recent World War II standards of BAND OF BROTHERS and moreover, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN.

More than the ROAD TO HILL 30 or EARNED IN BLOOD, the bulk of HELL'S HIGHWAY rests upon a single title theme. As with the other two titles, HELL'S HIGHWAY also begins and ends with the strongest performance of the game's identifying piece. ED LIMA and DUNCAN WATT's title theme is constructed in much the same way John Williams' poignant theme for SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and later STEPHEN HARWOOD JR.'s in the ROAD TO HILL 30. Beginning with a single sustained note on strings, we soon after hear snare, woodwinds and timpani join in before launching into a full-blooded performance of the central motif on brass. Bass drum and strings soon come in to add further depth and it is at this point that LIMA and WATT add a distinguishing element to their title theme - the chorus. This element lifts the piece to a higher emotional level than the franchise had previously reached. LIMA and WATT make thorough use of the title theme as six of the remaining ten tracks go on to quote at least the central motif.

ED LIMA and DUNCAN WATT employ their title theme in a variety of ways, helping to keep it from becoming tiresome. Aside from the very direct, patriotic and heroic applications heard in tracks like "The Story So Far" (2) and "Baker's Dozen" (3), they also employ the theme delicately as well. "The Story So Far" opens with a tender performance of this theme on piano. "Letters to Loved Ones" (5) offers a soft variation performed on bassoon. "We Happy Fewer" (7) features the central motif on flute and french horn at its onset.  The varied use of this score's backbone theme keep the brief score connected while keeping the listener engaged.  Further, ED LIMA and DUNCAN WATT make a deeper connection back to STEPHEN HARWOOD JR.'s original "march theme" from ROAD TO HILL 30.  Subtly, we can catch these quotations in the opening and closing tracks: "Main Theme" and "Farewell is Goodbye."

Going beyond this title theme, BROTHERS IN ARMS: HELL'S HIGHWAY offers up a number of things not found in the previous game scores, but the most notable is the inclusion of the choral elements. Both male and female choirs are used to communicate two different ideas. The male choir, not surprisingly, tends to appear in tracks that reinforce the "brotherhood" idea (see "Baker's Dozen", "We Happy Fewer"). More interestingly, LIMA and WATT seem to employ the female chorus most often when communicating the darker or more threatening elements of the story (see "The Story So Far," "For Matthew," and "Frankie's Choice").

Due to it's unique squad-based gameplay, attention to historical accuracy, and its emphasis on each game's story, the BROTHERS IN ARMS series has done well to carve out a place for itself in a market that had been dominated by two pre-existing game franchises - both with very loyal bases. A key factor in the storytelling has been Gearbox's choices regarding the music. HELL'S HIGHWAY maintains the tradition of attempting to enhance the realism during gameplay by, ironically, its lack of music. The cutscenes, then, have all the more work to do in grabbing and keeping the heart and mind of the player involved through to the very last mission. Rather than attempt to reinvent the genre via the music, ED LIMA and DUNCAN WATT have sought to stay true to those traits which have made some of the more recent World War II projects like BAND OF BROTHERS so successful. In the end, even though this release also suffers from its brevity, those who are appreciate scores that are unashamed of its heroism or patriotism will likely find HELL'S HIGHWAY a satisfying experience.
 

Brotherhood of Duty:  The Music of Brothers in Arms and Call of Duty: World at WarRating: 7/10

 

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Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Main Theme 2:02  ****
2 The Story So Far 1:34  ****
3 Baker's Dozen 2:11  ****
4 Double Time 2:12  ****
5 Letters to Love Ones 2:16  ***
6 For Matthew 1:26  ****
7 We Happy Fewer 1:32  ****
8 Frankies Choice 1:54  ***
9 Those We Lost 1:37  ***
10 Farewell is Goodbye 5:59  ****
  Total Running Time (approx) 23 minutes  

 

 
   

 

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