I heard about Revelation Online about a year ago. I admit, the news that such a game was being developed were quite a surprise for me, because learnt about it from Neal Acree’s Facebook page. It was a kind of a teaser with some videos from recording sessions and a presentation with the most interesting locations of the game.
I admire every composer who can create a wonderful world music using orchestra and choir (…).
All that accompanied by a wonderful main theme of the game, which wasn’t fully revealed at the time. The theme instantly brought to my mind the great music from World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, but there was something different in it, something more personal; a particle that in Mists of Pandaria was only noticeable in Neal’s music. Even though the instruments were very similar in both soundtracks, there was no sign of repetition, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
I got to know the entire soundtrack at the end of June. It was then, when the entire picture of it was clear to me. As I expected, there were no repetitions – instead, we were presented with an ethnic breeze of fresh air. The main instrument in the Revelations Online soundtrack is the symphonic orchestra, which, when used properly, can convince the listener that he deals with a piece of music deeply rooted in a completely different culture. I admire every composer who can create a wonderful world music using orchestra and choir, even though ethnic instruments, writing music for which is not that easy either, are at his disposition. The Chosen, which is the main theme, is one of the primary examples in which we can hear orchestra and choir from Northwest Sinfonia and ethnic instruments such as pipa (Jie Ma), ghuzeng (BeiBei), erhu (Karen Han), shakuhuchi, taikoshakuhachi drums and taiko drums. The Chosen is definitely a gem of the album. It’s a beautiful composition, the musical theme of which will appear in other arrangements.
Other songs are more focused on Asian instruments. And the orchestra, which is not always present, is perfect as a background. Capital Plaza, Destiny or Lost Forest are great examples in which ethnic instruments are doing their magic by moving to the foreground, while the string section takes part as a subtle accompaniment. The ethnic instruments are perfect also for creating a specific atmosphere. As it is in The Dragon Abyss, in which a number of flute articulations builds an atmosphere of mystery and danger which is further emphasized by the orchestra. There is one song that especially caught my attention. I’m talking about Forever Gone Desert, which with its sinister mood and the sounds of duduk brings to mind phenomenal music from Mel Gibson’s Passion by John Debney. The song is one of a kind. It stands out from the rest, but still is an integral part of the whole.
Revelation is one of the best world music albums I have ever heard.
Speaking of movies, Tina Guo’s cello is worth mentioning. The sound of her instrument reminds me of the wonderful music from Memoirs of Geisha composed by John Williams. The instrument adds the intimate and longing yet warm mood, we can hear that in Jade Maple Villa and in Holy Wings. In those songs the melancholic mood is also built by the vocals of the Mongolian singer Uyanga Bold. The other instruments that deserve some attention are the Japanese taiko drums. Without those drums the very distinctive soundtrack just would not work that well. I also recognised dhol, drums with a hard, high sound, which appeared in Neal Acree’s music many times, for example in StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm.
Revelation is one of the best world music albums I have ever heard. The high quality and craftsmanship assured by people such as Penka Kouneva and John Kurlander, who constantly work with Blizzard Entertainment. Neal Aree in a perfect way (not for the first time) merged the western orchestral sound with the Far-Eastern sound of China and Japan and thus created an extraordinary mixture which is quite unique in the video game industry. For his masterpiece, the composer won two BSOSpirit awards in the Composer of the Year and Best Score: Video Game categories. So, if you are a fan of ethnic or film music or you’re simply looking for something fresh, then go ahead and give this album a shot. If you enjoyed music from World of Warcraft series and liked Mists of Pandaria, but want something with a bigger emotional charge and Blizzard’s quality, then this album is certainly just right for you. For more information on Revelation Online music check Neal Acree’s official website.