Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers


This soundtrack perfectly imbues the movie with the exact same sadness, determination, power, love, and triumph as you see the characters go through. Howard Shore has once again done a wonderful job of capturing the sounds and feelings of Middle Earth and it’s people. All these tracks are so different and special that I simply must give you a taste of each one!

1.) It starts off with “Foundations of Stone” the fight between Gandalf and the Balrog, picking right up where the first CD left off in track 13, “The Bridge of Khazad Dum” and Gandalf falling away from the Fellowship. Here you’ll encounter a wonderful mix of drums, trumpets, and powerful vocals. You can almost see Gandalf and the Balrog battling each other as they fall through this seemingly endless Abyss. And then...silence.

2.) Then it jumps to “The Taming of Smeagol” with the same woodwinds that have attached themselves to the Hobbits in sounds of lightness and simplicity. But this soon turns to sad and foreboding vocals and then tiptoeing strings and flutes until breaking out into suspenseful orchestration as the Hobbits encounter Smeagol (aka Gollum).

3.) After dying into silence, the next song arises in powerful trumpets and other brass instruments signifying the arrival of the “Riders of Rohan.” Here we get our first taste of the instruments and sounds that will be the theme of Rohan, a noble, yet failing kingdom – the music portraying this perfectly. Whenever I hear these strings playing their tunes as though they wish to rise up and yet can’t, but somehow do in the end, I know Rohan is there. The most significant instrument here is a single Norwegian fiddle (or a hardinger) singing away for this old kingdom, done spectacularly by Dermot Crehan.

4.) “The Passage of the Marshes” comes along next, ghostly strings rising, falling, and remaining ever present – just like the dead elves and men within the marshes. Emerging from the rising music are haunting vocals of men and women, the music turning like a warning of danger...and then fading away.

5.) “The Uruk-hai” beings with trumpets and then breaks into the generalized theme of the Lord of the Rings with drums and trumpets throwing their notes into the skies, and then these slip away into quieter music, but of the same tunes only in woodwinds. Then, once again, the Rohan song comes into play, run down soon after by the foreboding and perilous sounds of Mordor with more trumpets, breaking down into drums, bongs, and low brass in a heavy beat that is the Uruk-hai.

6.) Slowly emerging is “The King of the Golden Hall” starting off with that single hardinger once again, showing the frailty of this once glorious kingdom. This is one of my personal favorites just because I absolutely love the sounds and emotions the hardinger can produce, along with the rest of the symphony for this song. Soon though, the song turns into a beating rush of music before falling again briefly until the chorus sings the power that Rohan still contains.

7.) “The Black Gate is Closed” appears in the movie when Frodo and Sam are attempting to sneak into the Shadow Lands of Mordor. The music shows the dangerousness and trickiness of this situation. Low sounds overlaid with violins are the makeup for this piece.

8.) “Evenstar” features Isabel Bayrakdarian and is one of my absolute favorites. I swear I tear up every time I hear this song because it is so beautiful and yet so sad all at once. Smooth flutes and Isabel’s vocals (along with some chorus) make the perfect theme for the turmoil and strength that is Aragorn and Arwen’s love. I just simply cannot express how amazing I think this particular track is...

9.) “The White Rider” begins a bit loud, so watch out. More vocals exist here, and I think that is one of the things that make this CD so great. Gentle voices and flutes with even some harp enters the song in a majestic mix that does well to represent Gandalf in his new form. Then it turns into a brief, yet triumphant part, dying down into silence.

10.) “Treebeard” I would have expected to be a little different. I expected woodwinds everywhere, including sounds not usually found in an orchestra. Instead it was a more ominous tune fading into simple wood-like (I suppose you could say) drums and what I believe was a clarinet in a kind of dark tune, leading up to the same sound as in the beginning.

11.) “The Leave Taking” is reminiscent of tracks 9 and 10 in the first CD, “Many Meetings” and “The Council of Elrond” with it’s light sounds. Then it deepens into more melodious singing and strings that are quite like track 14, “Lothlorien.”

12.) “Helm’s Deep” is the beginning of battle and you can tell this straight away with the rush of trumpets and horns and the quick pace of beating drums. Vocals soon arrive, singing the majesty of Rohan and their strength and willingness to endure. Then it slows for a bit, returning to the hardinger that is Rohan. But then you can hear the sadness of a single voice and then...it’s over.

13.) “The Forbidden Pool” returns us to Frodo and his travels (and companions). Slow and pulling, it leads on the listener to wonder what they will hear next, only not on to a crescendo of excitement, but into quiet, and melodious notes and vocals that define Frodo and Sam’s perilous journey into forbidden lands.

14.) “Breath of Life” is another one of my favorites. It starts of slowly, rising steadily, making you think, “Life, life!” (for whom I won’t say ;) with singing by Sheila Chandra. It continues, remaining slow and gentle for some time until it rises up and goes onward once again – just like one of the movie’s characters.

15.) “The Hornburg” returns us to Rohan’s proud theme (I love this theme!) and their time in battle. Slowly their fight comes, but come it must, and does.

16.) “Forth Eorlingas” is another track I thoroughly enjoy. This is the ultimate song for triumph of the best kind. It begins with vocals, it ends with vocals, the instruments are powerful, played exceedingly well – you can just see Rohan riding into battle, banners high, the few characters of the Fellowship riding alongside their comrades. It’s a beautiful song. The ending is the best part.

17.) Beginning with Lothlorien-like vocals is the next song, “Isengard Unleashed.” You know, I can’t even remember where this song goes in the movie, but I honestly don’t care because it still sounds great. Isengard’s drums beat like Mordor’s here and then transform into a softer sound. Now I remember! Here you can hear sad, singular vocals as the Ents have their eyes opened through Pippin and Merry. This is another one of my more favorite tracks. And then...the Ents are off to war!

18.) As Sam retells what he thinks Frodo’s story will end up to be and how it shall come about, “Samwise the Brave” plays. This music is a perfect match to Sam and Frodo’s friendship (and that’s what makes a happy ending to a story). And that’s just what this song is – wise and brave. But then there’s Gollum slinking around in the back…they must watch out for him... Here there is the only smooth transition into the next song.

19.) At first I wasn’t sure I liked this song. It seemed, well, in a word, weird. The singer, Emiliana Torrini has a very interesting voice I must say. But after a while, “Gollum’s Song” began to grow on me and I realized that this was Gollum all over. The lyrics were perfect for the poor, miserable Gollum/Smeagol, and the singer’s voice was somehow creepy and smooth all at once. It’s like a woman’s and a small child’s mixed into one. It has both Gollum and Smeagol in it; the good and the bad. I like it now, but it may take some time to get used to it. The song itself will soon and then finish off with a more complete tune – the type you would see with words along the lines of “The End” or “See The Return of the King” after the movie.

Some say that there have been awkward transitions within this CD, but in reality I don’t think there could have been smooth ones. I believe they are not awkward, but change in the exact same way as the movie, from one scene to the next. There is no warning – it just happens. If you have seen the movie The Two Towers you will have no trouble with it. If you haven’t I still don’t think you will mind much at all. Not all CD’s can have flawless transitions, and not all need them.

I love this CD and as per usual, it makes a great CD to listen to while writing (and sometimes just for whatever). Yes, sometimes I do wish that this CD was a little more different than the first, even though in many ways it is. And yet, if it were any more different, it would be an entirely different movie altogether and not the same sounds to link the two together.

If you enjoy soundtracks, this is for you. If you enjoy instrumental music, this is for you. If you enjoyed Lord of the Rings, this is for you. Heck, you might as well give this a listen if you if you haven’t seen the movie and simply read the book! I own the first and second CD’s to The Lord of the Rings, and it took me five tries and four different stores to get this particular CD. I didn’t care how much it cost either. I plan on getting the third one once it comes out – without a doubt. Hopefully this review has helped you with your thoughts and decisions as well!

NT

Originally posted on Epinions.com

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I am an author, I sell books for a living, and I love music like there's no tomorrow. I've experienced much of this country, from forested hills of the East, to the golden plains of the Midwest, the sandy beaches of the Southeast, and the oh-so-majestic mountains of the Rockies. And when all else fails, eat chocolate.