Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos – “Arcane Echoes” (Derek Duke)February 13, 2010
I remember intensely waiting for Warcraft III to be released. This game had been in development for something like four years, and having LOVED the second game, the third was bound to be a glorious continuation of the story. Of course, the game did not perform so well and now Warcraft is better known as an MMORPG, but you cannot forget its RTS roots. Anyway, I got the Special Edition version of the game, which came with all kinds of neat crap, including this soundtrack CD. The first track on the album, “Arcane Echoes” is one of my favorite pieces (my MOST favorite being “Lordaeron Fall” which we should be hearing in the future) and it sets the tone of both the game and album nicely.
“Arcane Echoes” uses wood blocks and metal percussion to evoke the sound of rustling bones and the walking dead (just the kind of thing you’d expect from the Undead Alliance). Like most WarCraft III songs, “Arcane Echoes” is divided into multiple sections. The first uses a base of woodblock and metal percussion upon which is built a nice ambient melody and the sense of wind whistling through the trees and ruined farmland. The theme changes at 1:45 to give a drop into atmospheric sound – wind, fog, the breath of spirits floating from an open crypt. This in turn gives way to a flurry of discordant strings at 3:00 that break the building tension like a swarm of plague beetles. The song then moves back to percussion as base, adding lots of metallic instruments at 4:30, and ending with the deep, minor chords, and dissembling into darkness.
The multiple sections of the song are meant to match the different events that could occur during play. Again, I think this song is the perfect piece to being the WarCraft III soundtrack album because it has such a nice, mysterious feel, but also because it gives a sense of foretelling – despite the age-old struggle between Orcs and Humans, new and dark, mysterious forces are on the move. It is a prelude of a mysterious plague flowing in from the northern wastes, brought about by war and divinated through the casting of bones: from the past comes a disaster that will shape the future of Azeroth.
Derek Duke has composed music for StarCraft and Diablo II, as well as World of WarCraft (the now-more famous incarnation of the series). After hearing his work on this CD, I hope he’s also helping compose Diablo III. The WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos (2002) album can also be purchased on iTunes for $9.99. As you can tell, for atmospheric game music, it is well worth the cost of admission! Sadly, a couple classic tracks such as the “Orcs” theme remix from WarCraft II, is not included in the soundtrack (but can be obtained by exploring the install folder of your game – which ironically enough, you can also get the entire soundtrack).