Amon Tobin
Chaos Theory - Splinter Cell 3 Soundtrack



by thebhoy EMERITUS
May 25th, 2009 | 9 replies

Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I don't even play very many video games.

Splinter Cell - Chaos Theory was a sick game dudes. I always enjoyed the uniqueness of the Splinter Cell series. Instead of running and gunning all your enemies down through a fairly restricted game map, Chaos Theory required you to be more thoughtful and tactical in order to complete your mission objectives. The other cool aspect of the game was the fact that it was scored by respected electronic artist Amon Tobin. In the game, the soundtrack fit what was happening perfectly. Each lumbering synth tone crept along with you, and when you had to pull out your automatic rifle and start blasting some terrorists, the drill n bass started pumping some adrenaline into the mix. However much like film scores, video game soundtracks can be a tedious listen when taken out of the context of the game. Amon Tobin’s Splinter Cell - Chaos Theory Soundtrack falls into the same trap.

Too much of the album amounts to nothing more then atmospheric noise, and not in the held tone or harmonic timber of other electronic music. The airy tones are met with bloops and bleeps and often meander without any sense of direction, as with the first few minutes of opener, “The Lighthouse”. In game, this is perfect background music for putting sleeper holds on a guard. However, in album form this quickly becomes boring. “Theme From Battery” encounters this same problem, but luckily the track is saved with a nice injection of melody compliments of a violin and guitar sampling. While “Ruthless” works as one of the more interesting tracks on the album, the four and a half minute, “Ruthless (Reprise)” is too understated and serves as a tedious listen. “Hokkaido” is also too airy in its first half, as washes of tones do nothing until the cello enters the fray to give the track some weight. The song finally lifts off when a chiming beat tightens up the song into sense of movement.

The beats are definitely what save this album from the trash bin. The epic closer “The Clean Up” and the previously mentioned “Ruthless” are the best examples of this. The drill n bass beats come fast and furious and propel the songs into a frenzied sense of direction. The beat oriented tracks have a strong sense of necessity and progression to them. The airy, ambient sections in these songs become more important as they segue into the sections of drum machine mayhem; and this is what the rest of the album lacked. Especially in the drill n bass subgenre of electronic music, there needs to be a sense of balance. Similar to other genres, such as post-rock, this music is best served with a balance between tension and release. The better albums in the genre, such as Aphex Twin’s Richard D. James Album or Venetian Snares’ Rossz Csillag Allat Szuletett had a perfect blend of tension and release. In Splinter Cell - Chaos Theory Soundtrack the tension isn’t quite there. The ambient sections generally don’t have a sense of tension or progression to them. While the drum machines work as perfect release points, they come off as underwhelming without the necessary tension build up.

Perhaps the blame shouldn’t rest on the shoulders of Amon Tobin. Perhaps it should rest on the inherent difficulty of translating a great score into a great album. After all, this is a great score when held within the context of the game. In the virtual realm of the game, the music doesn’t need to build as much tension or provide as much release because the game itself creates this for you. Which is why it fails at being an album. Without the aid of the game to beef up the emotional response of the audience, the music becomes noticeably weaker. So in conclusion, I would not recommend this album, however I would recommend this game.

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user ratings (82)

Comments:Add a Comment 
May 25th 2009


Album Rating: 2.5

what I'm trying to say is The Clean Up and Ruthless are awesome and the rest suck.

May 25th 2009


Amon Tobin is ok in small amounts but most of his albums get seriously dull

May 25th 2009


This game is ridiculously awesome.

May 25th 2009


Agreed. At some point tonight you are all going to get the Super Metroid Soundtrack review! ;)

May 25th 2009


i remember when the first splinter cell came out. wasn't really my thing, it got old before i completed the game.

amon tobin is siqq. reviews nice as well.

July 27th 2009


el cargo

Staff Reviewer
November 24th 2014


Album Rating: 4.2

This fits with the game perfectly

Digging: Our Oceans - Our Oceans

March 31st 2015


Don't see why this is rated so low. One of my favourite games and soundtracks

Staff Reviewer
April 10th 2019


Album Rating: 4.2

Agreed. There's a bunch more music not included with the official release, mainly Bank, one of the highlights.

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