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Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare by Audiomachine & Harry Gregson-Williams (Review)

posted Nov 4, 2014, 2:20 PM by Kaya Savas

Once upon a time, a video game changed the the FPS-shooter genre and became a worldwide phenomenon. As the era of 90’s action films faded away, a video game franchise reinvented itself and filled that void. The void we wanted to fill with ridiculous gunfights, absurd set pieces, intense chaos and stylistic action. Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare took the world by storm, and one of it’s defining aspects was the score from Stephen Barton and Harry Gregson-Williams. Harry’s intense electronic style translated perfectly for this stylistic shooter. It made it intense, immersive, but also pretty damn fun. That sound reflected Hans Zimmer’s rock-influenced Black Hawk Down score, and took it to new heights. From then on, composers fought to be part of the billion-dollar franchise, finding an open canvas to go balls-to-the wall with their action writing and having their style remain uncompromisingly intact. Composers like Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe, Brian Tyler, David Buckley, and Sean Murray crafted their own takes on the genre. Each of them adding something unique and special to a franchise that was constantly trying to find new ways to deliver the same action experience. Now Harry Gregson-Williams returns with Audiomachine to deliver what may be as close to a perfect action game scoring experience as you’ll come across.

First, a little intro to who/what is Audiomachine. Audiomachine popped up in an era where trailer music became a genre of its own. Score fans will recognize music licensing groups like Immediate Music, Extreme Music and X-Ray Dog from years ago, and who are all stil around. Audiomachine is made up of the duo of composers Paul Dinletir and Kevin Rix. Paul was formerly a composer with X-Ray Dog, when he formed Audiomachine in 2005. Tons of trailers and commercials have used their music. Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare marks Audiomachine’s first full score under the name, which is spearheaded by Paul Dinletir. Harry Gregson-Williams teamed up with Paul here and provided once again the main thematic material and additional scoring support.

So, how is the score? Well, it’s awesome. As someone who grew up with a certain sound in the 90’s, it’s how I became immersed in film scores. Intense, thematic, heroic and melodic action scores that infused synths and orchestras were a staple of the era. For Advanced Warfare, Audiomachine relies completely on electronics here and the result is fantastic. This isn’t just noise, we have some fantastically crafted action tracks that propel you and immerse you. The soundscape is perfect for that futuristic technology-driven action the game is going for. Every texture has a purpose, every texture acts like an instrument. Percussion comes in hard to give rhythm, grit is achieved with metallic warbles and it all has a futuristic bounce to it. Audiomachine lays it in thick too. But when I say they lay it on thick, I don’t mean it’s non-stop sonic bashing. In fact, I found the precision of some of the quieter tracks to build some great tension. All in all, the score moves like an action narrative, from one set piece to another while infusing a sense of weight to it all.

Harry’s contributions become the emotional glue that holds everything together. He brings his expertise to fill in the gaps where gaps are left open. When Harry’s music comes into play we can still get that signature electronic driven music, but with Harry’s emotional touches. We hear more of his shimmering strings and signature piano themes that bring a more organic touch to the story. Harry still brings the action goods though, so don’t think he’s only here for minimal emotional touches. Fans of Harry’s action writing will be pleasantly pleased, especially if you liked his work on the Metal Gear Solid series.

Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare is as entertaining an action game as you can get. Throwing substance to the wind and leaving nothing but style to fall back on you, the score echoes an intense action game approached through precision. Since this is a game score, you may feel a bit tired of it all after the end of this 1hr 17min album. But remember, this music sampling is from a game that spans several hours. Audiomachine proves that they are more than a trailer music company. And Harry proves he’s still the one and only Harry Gregson-Williams. The two meshing of styles combine seamlessly for one effortless action romp in full synthetic style. What’s missing in substantial storytelling is there in stylistic entertainment, and that’s all that is needed in a memorable Call Of Duty score.