At long last, Gordy Haab’s wondrous scores for EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront games have been released, and with this first one we dive into a brilliantly stylised musical world; one rich with the orchestral and aesthetical power of Star Wars.
Walker Assault opens the long-awaited album, and composer Gordy Haab wastes absolutely no time in diving straight into the incredibly John Williams-esque musical style of his Star Wars game scores. Much like with his music for Jedi: Fallen Order and Squadrons, Haab utilises a breathtaking ability to not only mimick the compositional style of Williams, but also weave the composer’s iconic sound for Star Wars throughout the music to the point where sometimes its almost indistinguishable from the real thing. Right off the bat, the orchestra builds into a loud, epic and brass-heavy crescendo, grabbing your attention straight away and then refusing to let go as frantic percussion and flurries of brass arrive, and the action begins. Over the course of the next six minutes, whether its the flourishes of strings, bold brass statements or hurried percussive elements, it all screams Star Wars, and I’ve been absolutely in awe of it, not just in this cue, but also in Haab’s work across the SW game franchise. Couple that with my fevered anticipation as this particular score has been six years in the waiting (not sure why it took so long to come out, but here we are) and overall I’d say the album’s off to a tremendously good start. Pale Blue Orb then opens rather mysteriously with light percussion and playful strings before emphatic brass then joins the fray thirty seconds or so in, with the pace quickening and the action then resuming. Frantic bursts of brass accompanied by thunderous percussion lead the rapid charge for a minute or two before a bold and rather heroic motif breaks through, switching the tone up from aggressive to downright courageous. Intriguingly, brass then plays a few thematic hints towards John Williams as the track starts to draw to a close, with a couple notes from what sounds an awful lot like Escape From Naboo (from The Phantom Menace) playing out in dramatically heroic form.
Survivors Of Endor opens tensely, with high-pitched strings setting a hurried tone and rumbles of percussion stirring quietly in the background. It isn’t long before the action then kicks off once again, with loud brass and thunderous drums flaring up for four minutes of frenetically-paced score. Things then slow down a tad at the start of SoroSuub Skirmish, with low brass and ominous strings establishing quite the sinister mood for a minute or two before brass starts to build back up again, getting louder and more prominent until a crescendo is reached at three minutes in, and the pace once again quickens to frantic. Crashes of percussion accompanied by villainous-sounding brass then take over for the remainder of the cue, emphasising and building until finally reaching another crescendo at the eight minute mark to finish the piece on a particularly dramatic note. The Imperial Advance then opens in a similarly malevolent manner, with some dark-sounding brass harkening back to John Williams’ imposing sound for the Empire before a fast pace once again kicks in and tense action takes over for pretty much the remainder of the track, utilising emphatic brass and boisterous percussion to great effect throughout.
So far though, while I am very much enjoying Haab’s brilliant action style here, the one thing the album is kind of missing is a main Battlefront theme. Something to tie all the score together, in a similar manner to the main themes of Jedi: Fallen Order or Squadrons – a motif to weave throughout the score and make those epic moments all the more astounding. Those main themes are also really great (particularly Fallen Order‘s) so it is a little disappointing that Battlefront here doesn’t appear to have one at all. Still, that doesn’t stop the action from being damned near masterful, with subsequent cue The Battle In The Clouds being a great example. It starts slowly with triumphant brass and upbeat flourishes of strings, with thunderous drums kicking in a few minutes later accompanied by then louder brassy bursts as heroic action then ensues.
A rumble of percussion opens the nine minute Approach To Landing Pad 13, with light-hearted strings and brass brightening the mood considerably for the first minute. This doesn’t last for long though as the aforementioned instruments then build to a particularly emphatic crescendo, at which point darker undertones begin to seep into the music. Low-pitched strings and ominous percussion enter the fray, with an action motif beginning to play that harkens back to the dark action style of John Williams’ War Of The Worlds score. Percussion then takes a marching stance, emphasising the Imperialistic new turn of the music before seguing straight into a few minutes of frantic action as the track then starts to draw to a close. The Rebels then start to regain the upper hand in standout cue Rebel Resistance, with loud, triumphant brass and crashing percussion setting a particularly heroic tone right as the track begins, and even introducing an upbeat theme of sorts for the Rebellion itself. The motif plays boldly and emphatically throughout the track, starting slowly and concert-performance-esque at the start before then becoming fast-paced and dramatic later on when the action naturally returns. Overall its actually a pretty solid theme, it’s just a bit of a shame it doesn’t really take very much of an assertive role through the score. This new musical hope is then rather crushed in Fully Armed And Operational, with worrisome brass and loud stabs of villainous-sounding percussion kicking things off before flourishes of strings arrive in a very Williams-esque fashion to then kick off another exquisite action setpiece – one complete with tense percussion and multiple enthusiastic bursts of brass.
Mystery opens The Graveyard Of Giants, with a loud crash of drums preceding quiet, foreboding strings and some wondrous yet ominous use of brass a minute or so into the track. Naturally of course it isn’t long before the action kicks back into gear, with heroic brass flurries leading the charge against tense, loud percussion. This all then builds to a victorious crescendo halfway through the piece, at which point the mystery returns for a minute or two of pensive strings before percussion comes crashing back into the fold and the fast-pace resumes just as quickly as it left off. The Rebellion theme from Rebel Resistance then gets a loudly triumphant flourish just as the cue finishes up. Jedi On The Battlefront opens softly, with low-pitched strings setting a gently optimistic tone before loud brass enters the fray accompanied by rumbling drums. This action continues for a few minutes before then quieting down at about the three minute mark, acting pensively before the instruments then start to assemble in the background once again and the music builds back up to stronger than ever for a final two minutes of tensely heroic score. Attack! is then the final cue on the album, and one that opens rather ominously with worrisome strings before then seguing into a minute of Williams-esque frantic action and one last triumphant rendition of the Rebellion theme to then give the score an emphatically heroic send-off.
Overall, Gordy Haab’s score for EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront is an absolute work of art. It’s truly fantastic to hear all those little hints and nods to John Williams that all together make for a compositional style that couldn’t fit better into the musical world of Star Wars. As such, there’s something just so completely satisfying about the action music here in particular that makes the album an absolute joy to listen to. It’s also very interesting to hear all these little stylistic bits and pieces that will later go on to take roles in Haab’s scores for the Jedi: Fallen Order and Squadrons games. The only criticism I have if any is that I do feel the score could have done with a main Battlefront theme to kind of tie all the score together in a thematic sense. Granted there are motifs for the Rebellion and Imperials but they don’t quite hit the same mark a main theme would, and after hearing the composer’s other works where there are solid main themes (case and point – Fallen Order) I can’t help but wonder if that might have been a better direction to go in. Still, that’s not to say that Haab’s work for Battlefront here isn’t absolutely amazing (because it is!) and I very much look forward to tackling the sequel score in the future.
Standout Cue: 9. Rebel Resistance
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