Taking center stage on the Halo 2: Original Soundtrack CD are the new symphonic compositions by Martin O'Donnell & Michael Salvatori, the composers behind the best-selling Halo: Combat Evolved soundtrack. Nile Rodgers, the album's producer said, "Visualize a giant orchestra with Martin O'Donnell as the composer & all the artists & musicians contributing as players in the grand symphony that is called Halo." The soundtrack also includes all new compositions from some of today's most exciting rock bands, including "Blow Me Away" by Breaking Benjamin, "Connected" by Hoobastank & "The Odyssey" by Incubus; which serve to fulfill the ultimate vision of Marty O'Donnell's epic orchestral score.
Further proof that the 15-year-old male is the nexus of contemporary popular entertainment, this anthology of music from and "inspired by" the sequel to the earth-conquering Halo
saga also showcases how capably the video game industry can trump even Hollywood's vaunted production values. The original synth-heavy underscore by Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori is filled with enough brooding, mock-Goth atmospherics, and pulsing exotica of indeterminate ethnicity to give the Hans Zimmer stable a run for their money, while a slate of (mostly) worthy rock star guest turns give it a welcome edge. Legendary axe-slinger Steve Vai's sinewy riffing punches up the reworked main theme and "Never Surrender," while alt.metal contenders Breaking Benjamin serve up the suitably dramatic inspired-by cut "Blow Me Away." But it's Incubus' four-part "Odyssey" suite that's the centerpiece, bridging 1970s prog and modern rock with its moody aura and evocative musical dramatics. --Jerry McCulley