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4.4 out of 5 stars
Halo 4: Original Soundtrack
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43 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2012
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
The developers of Halo 4 wanted a different direction for their music, something new yet (hopefully) just as instantly recognizable. Perfectly understandable for a development team that has no doubt felt they have both a lot to live up to while wanting to stand apart from what came before. Enter Neil Davidge of Massive Attack, whose work is as dramatic a departure from the established Halo sound as could be imagined and while it's quite obviously a labor of love I can't honestly say it resonates with me.

The sound on display here is relatively athematic; where the Halo trilogy was known for well developed melodies throughout, particularly it's chanted central theme that could reasonably be called "iconic", Halo 4 doesn't seem to have any central theme, or really a trademark sound all it's own. Most tracks stand apart from the others, and while there are motifs running through individual tracks the album's songs feel disconnected.

The sound brought to Halo 4 is orchestra/synth hybrid, and there are several standout tracks; the first track, Awakening, is heavily beat driven, pushed along relentlessly by a simple 7-note piano motif. To Galaxy is a near-perfect fusion of the orchestra/synth sound, and exemplifies the energy of both styles. Solace is more subdued, setting itself apart by weaving bells into it's instrumentation.

Unfortunately the album is often extremely repetitive; even noteworthy tracks have a tendency to simply loop their melodies, as though afraid to leave their comfort zone. Arrival, for instance, loops the same two-note pair for two minutes before it starts to shine. Others like Belly of the Beast never manage to rise above unexciting monotony of the sort that invites you to eventually mash Next Track. Two themes present themselves throughout, the suitably villainous melody of Nemesis (which reappears in the latter half of Revival) and the generically heroic 117. While Nemesis and Revival are decent tracks, the theme developed for them and that for 117 are amateurishly simplistic and forgettable, which I think is endemic of the album as a whole. Neil Davidge is an excellent music producer but he seems unaccustomed to the dynamics of composing a score.

Overall a mixed bag. At it's current price I don't regret the purchase at all and it's really been growing on me, but while there's sometimes real emotion and energy, repetition kills a lot of this album's momentum. It also suffers for lack of a distinct, signature sound. I'd point to Tron: Legacy and the Juno Reactor tracks of the Matrix sequels as examples of this sound when it's really done right.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2012
Format: Audio CD
This is an amazing soundtrack, Neil Davidge did a great job on it. The tracks each have a distinguishing feel to them, and are in great audio quality. The length of the songs vary, ranging between 2-10 minutes, not bad. All in all it's a very nice soundtrack, and refreshing compared to the past ones. But don't expect the classic Halo feel to them though, It feels much different compared to Marty's work. The composer said he wanted to make it original, and not just try and impersonate Marty. He's taking Halo's classic music in a new direction, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2012
Format: Audio CD
Let me start off by saying that I was not a believer in Neil Davidge before this soundtrack released. Several trailers were ruined by some god awful dubstep remixes and they hadn't released any impressive tracks pre-launch. Marty O'Donnell is an absolute beast of composer and his work with Halo is nothing short of iconic. He raised the bar for soundtracks in games and stands head and shoulders with the industry's best composers. Needless to say, he's a tough act to follow.

That said, I think Davidge did a splendid job with Halo 4's score and he manages to impress, and surprisingly does so without relying on old melodies from Halo of yore. He captures the essence of Halo's trademark neo-classical sound and adds a surprisingly textured electronic flavor to the Halo suite, in the same vain as some of the tracks in Halo: Reach. The electronic bits are (thankfully) never overplayed and actually quite sparse. Make no mistake, this is a predominantly orchestral track. London Symphony Orchestra, actually. Overall it's a nice blend of the organic and the unnatural, which if you've played the game you know fits the tone quite well. I feel like every Halo game has had a unique sound to it (CE was mysterious, Halo 2 was rock, Halo 3 was epic, ODST was jazzy, Reach was somber), and Halo 4 continues in that tradition. If I had to use one word I might call it "romantic", and not the kind you're thinking of. There's a high drama to it all, with a verrrrry heavy reliance on swelling strings to match the emotion of the Chief and Cortana's relationship as well as the grandeur of Requiem itself. It accompanies the game well but it's also fun to listen to separately, which I think is the sign of great music.

Unfortunately, the soundtrack itself has a lot of unfortunate omissions. It's the opposite problem of the last Halos soundtrack: Where the Reach OST had some awesome songs that were not featured in the game, Halo 4 has some awesome songs in the game that are missing in the OST! Remember the trademark Halo theme with the monks? Of course you do. Yeah, it's in the game, but you wouldn't know it if you listened to the OST, seeing as it's not included. Baffling. Even more absurd is that there is an absolutely beautiful rendition of 'Never Forget' in the game (the only full remake Neil did) but -you guessed it!- it's not on the soundtrack. It doesn't stop there, however, as there are two other tracks you won't hear unless you get the the Limited Edition soundtrack. I've seen developers exclude content from their games to encourage people to buy more DLC or the super extra special edition, but not including music on the OST is outright bizarre. I know Microsoft loves to rip people off, but seriously? When I buy a soundtrack like this, I expect it to be comprehensive and not have to shell out $100 just hear the entire damn thing.

As far as standout tracks go, '117' is the first that comes to mind. You need to hear it to believe it, but from the sixth minute and onward it's a nonstep adrenaline rush of an entire orchestra going absolutely berserk. They even sneak in a bit of the classic Halo theme! (not the monks, mind you) 'To Galaxy' is also quite good and of the entire OST sounds the most like Marty's old work. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it's very reminiscent. The percussion may be part of it. 'Awakening', 'Arrival', and 'Legacy' are a few other highlights. 'Green and 'Blue' is spectacular, but don't listen to it unless you beat the game as the music is so emotional it's a spoiler unto itself.

Overall this is a triumph for Neil Davidge but unfortunately the OST is marred by some outrageous BS from Microsoft and the exclusion of some brilliant songs. Still worth buying and listening if you have any interest in game music, and if you're a Halo fan who's willing to try something new I think you'll love it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2012
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
When I got the soundtrack for Halo 4, I wasn't really expecting much. I had heard snippets of the music from the previews and knew it was not like anything from Halo. But to be fair to 343, Bungie also threw out nearly any and all recognizable Halo themes in the soundtracks for ODST and Reach. I listened to the Halo 4 soundtrack several times and it has really grown on me. I enjoy listening to it and I can't wait to see how the music is used in Halo 4.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2012
Format: Audio CD
When i saw that a new composer named Neil Davidge was doing the music for Halo 4, my jaw dropped; i couldn't believe 343 dropped the ball that badly. But when i bought the CD from the store the other day, i was wrong in every way; this soundtrack is a different kind of a Halo-music masterpiece. Michael and Marty crafted a massive, astonishing musical universe with the Halo franchise, shifting gears when they did ODST (which was grand in every way); there wasn't anything they couldn't do. Now with the start of the Reclaimer trilogy, Halo 4 (the story centering around this mysterious Forerunner planet Master Chief lands on), needs not only a new form of story-telling, but a new sound-scape to accompany the different setting, and Neil crafts exactly that. Now, for die-hard Halo fans, this will be a difficult transition, but trust me when i say, it's absolutely worth it and a perfect choice on 343's part. You will not be sorry; this soundtrack is epic, emotional, and best of all, magical, creating a darker, more horrific place for Master Chief, and for us, to enter. I come to tears every time i hear Green and Blue (any and every Halo fan should know what those colors represent).

My favorite tracks are Legacy, 117 and, Green and Blue FYI (:
Enjoy!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2012
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Great soundtrack. Epic. Large scale and totally not what I expected for a Halo soundtrack. Some listeners will be turned off by the lack of O'Donnell-ness. I think the electronic sounds are gonna fit real nice in this new trilogy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2012
Format: MP3 MusicVerified Purchase
I have been a fan of the Halo music from the beginning, and was concerned going in with the new direction 434 decided to go for their turn with the franchise.

Listened to the first track and my concerns evaporated with the music. It's compelling, bombastic at times, but overall a pleasure to listen to. It's really well done. This has to be my favorite entry in this series, if not one of my favorite albums to listen to.

Tracks of note:

Awakening: This song kicks it off and sets the tone for this album.

Belly of the Beast: Kicks up with hard hitting, higher tempo.

Immaterial: Darker sounding, full bodied song.

Revival: This piece alone is worth the cost of the album, hard hitting theme.

I could go on noting almost every track, because they are all good. This is a slam dunk.

-The 6 bonus songs are also worthy entries, I'm not much for remixed songs, but these are well done and welcomed.

I definitely recommend purchasing this album. Really can't wait to continue the fight on 11/5 now.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2012
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Back when I heard Halo would continue without Bungie, the first thing I thought of was the music. I was worried that without Marty, the score would suffer, and I am very pleased to say that with Neil Davidge at the helm the music is just as good, yet in a different way. You're not going to find too many classic Halo themes on this CD, but that's alright, because what you will hear is a fresh, bold, new set of tracks that compliment the direction 343i is taking the Halo franchise. I would pick this up if you're a fan of the franchise or just starting out, at 7.99, it's a steal.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2012
Format: MP3 MusicVerified Purchase
I think we were all worried about this soundtrack. The sounds of Halo are legendary, and rightly so. I picked up this soundtrack expecting it to be competent at best. Wow did I ever underestimate it. I'll have to live with it a while (and hear it in-game) before I can say that its as-good or better than Marty's work, but man some of these tunes are EPIC.

My personal favorite so far is "Nemesis". I can't wait to see what happens while this is playing. Are those bits of the original soundtrack they are chanting ever so menacingly? I think they are.

All I can say is that if 343i got the rest of the game as right as they got the music, Halo is in great hands. Bring on Nov 6!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2012
Format: MP3 MusicVerified Purchase
I had some doubts about the Halo 4 Game soundtrack...
Once I played the Standard Version all the way thru, It's been Done Very Well.
and some Great Music it has, Far better than I expected.

Awakening... Action

Belly of the beast... Action

Haven... Very Atmospheric

Immaterial... same as above + Action

Revival... very Haunting

The rest of the Songs are Great as well. I am glad I Have it :)
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