Martin O'Donnell
Halo 2, Vol. 2 OST


3.5
great

Review

by TheSpaceMan USER (16 Reviews)
August 17th, 2013 | 35 replies | 1,363 views


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: These are no 8-bit Mario tunes

1 of 1 thought this review was well written

One of the most spectacular things about Bungie’s Halo series is the way it immerses you in its universe. Alongside an engrossing storyline and some great gameplay, the sound track for the series has always been critically acclaimed. Written and composed by Martin O’ Donell, this space opera set list follows in similar footsteps to the soundtrack of Star Wars; it combines epic orchestral pieces with sci-fi synths to create a bombastic space theatric. The soundtrack alone has sold over 100,000 copies and was one of the first major video game contributions to the music industry. The recording of the music for Halo was taken very seriously by Microsoft, involving an entire (and very respectable) orchestra, big names like Incubus and Steve Vai, and a budget larger than most movies would ever hope to receive for their scores. Halo 2 Original Soundtrack, Volume 2 is what Microsoft calls “The true Halo soundtrack”, as Volume 1 featured namely mixes and songs that were merely sampled in the actual game.

Anyone one who has ever booted up Halo 2 will immediately recognize the first track “Prologue”, as an electric guitar lick backed by thunderous drum beats play over a short-but-sweet ambient build up. Everything eventually reaches a climax and fades out along with the final guitar strum only to be replaced by the franchise’s trademark monk choir. The chilling female harmony paints a gorgeous picture of both loss and desperation, and this tone is continued by solemn synthesizers and a series of strings (most notably a handful of violinists). As its name suggests, “Prologue” does an excellent job at preparing the listener for how the album will carry out: various elements are entwined together, and often times juxtaposed, to further drive the concept of the Halo universe.

In fact, the entire album is composed as a suite akin to many orchestral pieces. It is actually reflective to the game itself by following its chapters mostly in chronological order. This doesn’t mean there are obvious dog-eared scores waiting for their in game cues. Instead the entire album works as one massive orchestration that fluidly transitions between its songs. You feel the rise and release of tension while these dramatic suites run their play time. Songs match their respective level’s tone appropriately. Take “Sacred Icon Suite” for instance, as its unnerving screech like synths and desolate emptiness brings back horrific memories of what’s happening in the game. O’ Donell considers this to be a concept album because of this, and it’s very easy to see why; listening through is essentially following the game’s engrossing plotline and story arch.

That being said, while having played the game does help one to better appreciate these lush and spacey soundscapes, you don’t need to be familiar with it at all. The music itself is astonishingly layered and massive, holding its own without ever needing to rely on its ties to the game. “Mombasa Suite”, for example, relies on creative tribal rhythms that reflect the game’s earlier levels set in poverty-stricken African city. As the song progresses, these beats are constantly evolving and are backed by various ambient synths and interesting guitar feedback. “Delta Halo Suite” however takes things to a more theatric approach, mirroring a pivotal discovery in Halo 2’s plotline. The song is heavily based on military-like marching beats played over some beautifully textured keys. As the track builds momentum, the orchestra is reintroduced and is remarkably well utilized. Everything seems to be working cohesively to create a large sense of drama.

It is worth noting how accomplished the instrumentation is on the album. The orchestra is often times phenomenal and is used to its full advantage. Much like the classic orchestral pieces of Star Wars, these tracks boast goldmines of epic theatrics that fit the game’s universe perfectly. However while the meatier moments of the record can hold their own, the album is still a soundtrack. This means it was ultimately composed to support rather than to fill in. As such, there are often times endless seas of tranquil ambience or repetitious beats that may have you winding up lost in the music; you may feel there is no “reference” to follow as some of the longer suites interlude between their stronger parts. This never carries out too ridiculously though, and really just helps the pacing of the album even further. Listeners of instrumental or ambient music will definitely appreciate the atmosphere and variety this provides.

Even a track like “Reclaimer”, a straight up progressive metal wet dream, is streamlined into the album snuggly. While it may initially come off as a silly attempt from the composer to keep things a mixed bag, the song is actually very well written. The guitar playing, courtesy of triple Grammy winning Steve Vai, is absolutely insane and well supported by a backing orchestra. He does some serious shredding that blows most metal instrumentals out of the water. “Epilogue” closes the album nicely with a beautiful string and synth solo that is played behind the credits of Halo 2. It works perfectly as a bookend to the massive journey.

This isn’t your typical 8-bit Mario soundtrack. Microsoft clearly understood the importance a musical score can have on the theatrics of any form of entertainment. In doing so, it help create a remarkably lush and appealing ambient suite that is great for both hardcore fans and music aficionados. It truly is a unique and anthemic adventure through space worth taking.



Recent reviews by this author
Spiritualized Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in SpaceColour Haze Tempel
The Flower Kings Space RevolverThe Verve The Verve
T2 It'll All Work Out in BoomlandThe Paper Kites States
user ratings (20)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
TheSpaceMan
August 17th 2013



2287 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

As you can probably tell, I fucking love Halo. The soundtrack really is great and I thought it deserved a review. It was also really late when I finished writing this so please let me know if you notice any mistakes/ have any feedback

Jesuslaves
August 17th 2013



4655 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Unyielding > Reclaimer

Best track in Halo 2 is Orbit of Glass from volume 1

TheSpaceMan
August 17th 2013



2287 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I agree with Unyeilding, its got a ton of emotion behind those strings. It comes after "Reclaimer" does in the game so I don't know why the album has em swapped

the Incubus movement on Vol 1 is my personal fav off that

DrGonzo1937
August 17th 2013



5515 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Halo 1 and 3 OST's are better, this is definitely the weaker one.

Acanthus
August 17th 2013



9537 Comments


Vol. 1 slays this, it's still good though.

MrElmo
August 17th 2013



1950 Comments


Glad to see another halo fan on here, prologue is the jam. Your review was informative and detailed, pos. My only gripe would be that your score doesn't match the review (reeds like a 4+). Good job!

DegausserGuernica24
August 17th 2013



1134 Comments


GIVE ME A WEAPON

NakedSnake
August 17th 2013



265 Comments


"I NEED A WEAPON" actually.

DrGonzo1937
August 17th 2013



5515 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

A lot of people hated playing as Arbiter, but I thought he was a pretty cool character. Only thing I didn't enjoy with Halo 2 was the ending--or lack of.

NothingForSomething
August 17th 2013



186 Comments


Love this soundtrack

TheSpaceMan
August 17th 2013



2287 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks for the feedback everyone. Halo 2 has always been my favorite Halo (though I stopped after ODST). It had some awesome levels and the cutscenes were unbelievably well put together

@Elmo, bumped my rating to a 4 because the review def reads like it. appreciate the support man, thanks!

@Gonzo & Acanthus, while Vol 1 has the better jams, I prefer this one a tad bit more. I like the vistas and imagery it paints throughout and it does a great job playing out like Halo 2. Arbiter's story is the shit, its like a sanctified and religious martyr with an already better back story than the Chief's

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
August 17th 2013



50093 Comments


I own an Xbox 360 but no Halo games :o

Digging: Tiny Moving Parts - Pleasant Living

TheSpaceMan
August 17th 2013



2287 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

dude get on that!

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
August 17th 2013



50093 Comments


I can't stand Halo, sorry

TheSpaceMan
August 17th 2013



2287 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

fair enough, I wouldn't put any of them in my top 5 games of all time but Halo 3's custom games with
friends is probably the most fun I've ever had with a multiplayer game. endless nights of beer, shotty
snipes, and killing sprees

Tunaboy45
August 17th 2013



2035 Comments


http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/58484/Marilyn-Manson-Lest-We-Forget-%28-The-Best-Of-Marilyn-Manson%29/ Please could you give my opinion a look at? It would be greatly appreciated.
Being a huge halo fan, i think this review is brilliant. Well done!

Digging: Porcupine Tree - In Absentia

Buzzkillr
August 17th 2013



1541 Comments


halo's really only good for the multi, the solo campaign is just too plodding

MentalityOfA
August 17th 2013



1213 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yes, a review!

BassDemon333
August 17th 2013



3364 Comments


Halo 1 OST > All other Halo OST's. Although Vol. 1 of Halo 2's is a close second.

Digging: Mudvayne - L.D. 50

YourDarkAffected
Contributing Reviewer
August 17th 2013



1653 Comments


I loved the Arbiter missions. I wish they had explored his backstory more in Halo 3 or given him a few of his own missions again instead of just using him as the co-op dude.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy