Jukebox Heroes: The best of Elder Scrolls Online’s Blackwood score

    
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While last year’s Blackwood expansion to Elder Scrolls Online will be remembered most for its companion system than its fairly drab zone or half-hearted reception by the community, I’d like to submit the soundtrack as one of its greatest strengths. In fact, Blackwood may be my favorite ESO score to date, building off of the expertise that Composer Brad Derrick has been building for years now.

Today, let’s take a listen through some of the soundtrack’s highlights — and perhaps get a bit excited about what High Isle will bring to the MMO’s musical library.

“Diamond and Root”

After dithering about for a bit, this short track explodes to make a grand statement that would make for an excellent introduction to an area or story beat.

“A White Stallion Rampant”

There is a lot of loveliness in Elder Scrolls Online’s score, and this track is a perfect example of how beautiful things can get in this game. It’s magical, wistful, and adventurous in turns, slathering a bit of choral ambience on top to give it that extra oomph.

“Death in the Shallows”

Despite the name, this is an action cue through-and-through. It charges out of the gate asking you to hop on or get out of the way. It’s perhaps not the most complicated track, but it does what action pieces need to do: establish pace and urgency, then pour on the tension to keep it going.

“Moss on the Cobblestones”

This is a quiet track that lulls you right into its optimistic mood before you know what’s happening. It does get a little more emotional, swaying back and forth as the intensity rises, but it’s never overbearing.

“Fields of Nibenay”

This is almost a lullaby, as a transcendent voice sings to you of times long past and how great triple fudge ice cream is on a hot day (I’m guessing, but I feel that’s an accurate assumption). Then when you’re about asleep, this track rouses you to an epic destiny. Good stuff.

“Memories of the Marsh”

As the title of this track implies, Memories of the Marsh is about evoking that sense of nostalgia and history (in a good way, it should be mentioned). It’s almost dreamlike as it flows through its six-plus minutes. I’ve run out of easy synonyms for “beautiful” and “lovely,” so just take my word that this will take your breath away.

MMOs are meant to be heard as well as seen, and chances are that music ties your memories to these games more than you might realize. Every two weeks Jukebox Heroes listens through a game soundtrack and picks out the highlights to share and discuss. And if you like this column, then don’t miss the author’s MMO music podcast, Battle Bards!
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