It’s been a good while since I’ve done a Jukebox Heroes, mostly for the reason that I took most of the year off from plowing through soundtrack after soundtrack. Call it a “burn-out sabbatical” of a sorts; I needed some time to refresh on my love for MMO scores. Now that I’ve had this period, I’m easing back in with some of the major releases of the past couple of years.
Let’s kick off with a listen through World of Warcraft’s Dragonflight, shall we? A new WoW score is always a reason to celebrate, and the musical team at Blizzard knocked it out of the park with this one. Here are some of the highlights from this expansive album.
The Isles Awaken
The 12-plus minute main theme of Dragonflight sets the expectations for this expansion’s score. Namely, that it’ll sound triumphant and adventurous, with little emotional baggage to weigh it down. Even though it’s got a long runtime, it was a quick listen. This track gets everything off to a strong start.
The Dragon’s Hoard
A homey and exotic tune, The Dragon’s Hoard summons to mind a fantasy tavern bustling with life, rich smells wafting in from the kitchen, and more than a few epic adventures about to begin. It’s a simple tune, really, but sometimes that’s all you need to become an earworm you’re whistling the next day.
Ramparts of Valdrakken
Forget the bombastic intro — it’s in the quieter moments that this piece soars. It very much feels like it’s telling a story with its gradual transitions and upbeat motifs. By the end, I genuinely felt goosebumps.
Don’t let the average-but-not-impressive first two minutes fool you; there are audio treasures waiting to be plundered here. The sweet melody is accentuated at times by unique percussion (sticks?) and a stirring choir.
If you’re looking for a casual and mostly serene outdoors track, Riverbends has you covered. It blends together the everyday pastoral nature of the landscape with the more magical elements of the game world. It’s pretty, through and through.
I expect a lot out of any track title that uses the word “sanctuary” — it better be beautiful and totally chill. I’m happy to report that this piece accomplishes both tasks, taking you on a relaxing spa day in Azeroth. You get a lot of these same feels in “Life Pools,” if only a touch more epic.
Giants of the Span
Blizzard knew it had a hit with Grizzly Hills back in the day, and the studio’s been milking the nostalgia for that zone — and it’s incredible tune — ever since. Here’s the latest iteration, and I’m not sad to see it on this album. It’s so chipper and delightful.
Take to the Skies
There’s a strong “How to Train Your Dragon” vibe with this one — as one might have expected, considering the themes and mechanics of this expansion. Hey, I’m not complaining! It’s perhaps the best tune, a vibrant theme that pops with energy and power.