SUN: Soul of the Ultimate Nation (Soundtrack) by Howard Shore



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SUN: Soul of the Ultimate Nation
by Howard Shore







SUN: Soul of the Ultimate Nation (Game Soundtrack) by Howard Shore

SUN: Soul of the Ultimate Nation
Composed by Howard Shore
Sony/BMG Records (Korea)

Rating: 8/10

Buy SUN: Soul of the Ultimate Nation by Howard Shore  from or Buy SUN: Soul of the Ultimate Nation (Soundtrack) by Howard Shore  from

Listen to this soundclip of Soul of the Ultimate NationSanctuary Ether  (194 kb)

Listen to this soundclip of Soul of the Ultimate NationA Prelude to Revolt  (199 kb)

Listen to this soundclip of Soul of the Ultimate NationThe Valley of the Dragons (196 kb)


“This is serious music here and Howard Shore delivers a number of powerful pieces that one might think were beyond the needs of a "mere" video game.”

SUN: Soul of the Ultimate Nation (Game Soundtrack) by Howard ShoreHoward Shore's New Soul
Review by Christopher Coleman

In the the 3 years since the last LORD OF THE RINGS film was released, there has been somewhat of a void in the collective hearts of the film music appreciation community.  Sure, there have been good scores released since then, but nothing with the scope or depth of HOWARD SHORE's masterwork for the Peter Jackson trilogy.

Further disappointment was dealt to Shore fans with his departure from the KING KONG project.  His work, however satisfying, for A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, still didn't quite feed the musical hunger he, himself created with his music for THE LORD OF THE RINGS.

The video game genre to the rescue!

The MMORPG (that's MASSIVE ONLINE ROLE PLAYING GAME) SUN: SOUL OF THE ULTIMATE NATION has caused a stir in the gaming world.  The producers of the game, having been clearly influenced by Peter Jackson's LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, were somehow able to land the Rings composer himself, Howard Shore.  Filled with Lord of the Ring-like camera angles, set pieces, and character-types, who would be a better choice to compose the game's score?

The fact that yet another A-list, Hollywood composer has gone and scored a video game AFTER achieving such status, is another clear sign that music for video games is just as creatively challenging as music for film and television...and likely just as lucrative.  What's more surprising is that what Howard Shore delivered was not some synthesized, scaled-down version of his Ring-style, but a full orchestral, wham-bam, that, quality-wise, throughout most the soundtrack, is a dead-ringer for his earlier work.

This is serious music here and Howard Shore delivers a number of powerful pieces that one might think were beyond the needs of a "mere" video game. Most of the music for SOUL OF THE ULTIMATE NATION is so similar to that of LORD OF THE RINGS that one would have to guess that some of these pieces were rejected variations of his work for Rings.  Tracks like: "Prelude to Revolt," has the choir, the brass fanfares, the encircling strings, all elements that most film music fans readily associate to some Gondorrian battle, while "Tides of Hope" could easily pass for a majestic theme for the Rohan...or perhaps even for the Shire.  Rather than go through a one-to-one comparison between SOUL OF THE ULTIMATE NATION and THE LORD OF THE RINGS (and believe could EASILY do so) let's look at what helps to distinguish this project.

There are a few elements that certainly set apart SOUL OF THE ULTIMATE NATION from Howard's work for LORD OF THE RINGS.  "The Valley of the Dragons," "Hymn of Battlefields" and "Night of the Crescent Moon" feature an other-worldly synth lead, that is more akin to some B-sci-fi-film of the late 1950's than a video game from the 21st century.  The tremolo, synth-lead is a bit jarring as it strongly contrasts with the instruments accompanying it.   "Ethereal Life" is another subtly distinctive track that, at its onset, has a contemporary, hopeful characteristic not comparable to anything from the Rings trilogy.  Lastly, "Graveyard of Aiort" begins with a electronic, "secret laboratory" feel that courses throughout most of the track.  It would be very easy to get hung up on all of the similarities to Howard Shore's masterwork from a few years ago, but if one takes care in listening, there is quite a bit to be appreciated in SOUL OF THE ULTIMATE NATION that has a character all its own.

The soundtrack released by Sony/BMG of Korea contains 20 tracks of music, but before you get too excited, the majority fall under the 3:00 minute range.  Still, in the end, the total running time is more than sufficient at over 62 minutes.  The liner notes are predominantly in Korean, but the track titles and a brief bio of Howard Shore are presented in English.

The performance of the National Philharmonic of Russian and the Academy of Choral Arts here surprisingly rivals that of the world-renown London Symphony Orchestra.  This  orchestra is "the new kid on the block" and was only founded in 2003.  Commissioned by President Vladimir Putin and lead by violinist/conductor, Vladimir Spivakov, the orchestra has fast made a name for itself around the world.  There work for SOUL OF THE ULTIMATE NATION will hopefully mean more contracts for them in the film and game score genre.

For those of you who may be dying for a score with strong thematic material, then look no further.  SOUL OF THE ULTIMATE NATION will certainly satisfy the palette of the Howard Shore or Lord of the Ring's fan.  Further, this music easily some of the best orchestral music scored for a video game to date.  While it does feature a few elements that might feel a bit quirky, let's hope they go on to bolster the character of the video game - a game, which hopefully, will be worthy of such an effort from Howard Shore.


Rating: 8/10


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Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Sanctuary of Ether 2:35  ****
2 A Prelude to Revolt 6:47  ****
3 Tides of Hope 3:19  ****
4 Helron's Castle 2:10  ***
5 The Triumph 2:08  ****
6 The Valley of Dragons 2:18  ***
7 Forest of the Beasts 4:03  ***
8 Empire Geist 3:23  ****
9 The Epitaph 3:05  ****
10 Night of the Crescent Moon 1:35  ***
11 Hymns of Battlefields 2:14  ***
12 Immortal Emporer 2:44  ****
13 March to Victory 2:10  ****
14 A Poem for Nemesis 2:20  ****
15 Soul of the Ultimate Nation 3:13  ****
16 Requiem for the Dead 4:35  ***
17 Ethereal Life 2:53  ***
18 A Pernicious Plot 2:12  ***
19 Graveyard of Aiort 2:43  ***
20 Menace of the Army Wings 7:54  ****
  Total Running Time 62:23  




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