Conan the Destroyer

A lot of people are familiar with Basil Poledouris and the glory that is the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack. I think this soundtrack tends to get left out in the rain for some reason. Maybe because the first one was so great. Maybe because people reject this movie. Whatever the case may be, this soundtrack shouldn’t be overlooked because even if you didn’t like the movie, the music is still really frickin’ good. I mean, it’s Basil Poledouris for heaven’s sake! Besides, when some of his other soundtracks are good for their respective movies but not necessarily the best to listen to on their own, this is one of the good ones that makes for some nice ear candy in almost any situation.
1.) Main Title/Riders of Taramis – 3:40 Right away the strings spin in a whirlwind, slowly edging us into the main theme of the movie, complete with the horns Poledouris does so well. Clashing cymbals and heavy drums bring in plenty of fight music that flashes and, of course, has a few smaller interludes for characters like Malak and darker pieces for Taramis’s soldiers.
2.) Valeria Remembered – 3:10 A slow and sad reminder of Conan’s lost love. From the gentle harp to the ancient woodwinds, now is the time to make the decision whether or not to help with the quest. Especially near the end, reminiscent of “Funeral Pyre” from the first CD.
3.) The Horn of Dagoth – 2:23 I think that’s a harpsichord starting things off – whatever it is, it certainly provides that mystical feel to the song as we come face to face with the powerful Horn. This may or may not be a good thing. I’m fond of this piece and the magic it seems to emanate.
4.) Elite Guard Attacks – 2:27 Launching into the main Conan theme from the first track, only this time it’s all battle music with a few breaths in between as opponents gauge each others’s skills.
5.) Crystal Palace – 6:16 Mystical like track 3, this time we’re inching around in palace formed of ice (at least I think it’s ice) where a wizard lives. Of course things quickly turn nasty when a wizard-borne monster shows up. Steady but dangerous tunes lead mostly by horns switching with strings and magic threaten and make life difficult. That is until the wizard’s secret is discovered. Then suddenly there’s a heroic upswing that’s impossible not to love. Always was my favorite piece.
6.) Datta – 1:07 Shattering sparkles open into a nicely flowing piece that’s short but cool. It’s a big diamond.
7.) Dream Quest – 1:03 Interchanging between slow flutes and active horns, another brief piece that summarizes the group’s journey and the underlying plot behind them.
8.) Night Bird – 2:25 Dark magic is afoot, another one of my favorite pieces (I like so many) as a smoky bird snatches up the princess and carries her off. The flutes waver back and forth until finally the piece blooms into an awe-like moment before falling into a bit of the Crystal Palace theme.
9.) Approach to Shadizaar – 2:46 Remember “Mountain of Power Procession” from the first CD? Well, here is it again, with very little change to it. Maybe a few more clangy noises, and ending on notes tailored for this movie, but that’s essentially it.
10.) The Scrolls of Skelos – 2:27 More mysticism with the woodwinds this time. A little like the "The Horn of Dagoth” I love all the sparkling sounds from chimes and light plucking from harps and sad notes from the flute. The ambiance these songs emanate is so perfect, it’s wonderful.
11.) Dueling Wizards – 1:30 Time for Akiro do his work. It’s tough, but the main theme lets us know he’s succeeded in his spell.
12.) Illusion’s Lake – 1:20 Slow and slightly haunting, the vibraphones echo through the strings – you never know what you’ll find in a Crystal Palace.
13.) Conan & Bombaata Battle – 2:30 Just like the “Elite Guard Attacks” we now have these two fighting. Every time that jingling sound shows up, it just gives the song so much character! But we’re in the middle of a vicious fight and the best parts are when the Dagoth wakes up, love the fanfare, and it gives the regular fight music a lot more meat.
This movie got exactly what it deserved even if Poledouris does re-use some songs from the previous Conan film. It manages to work out rather nicely and when you think about it, other movies have done the same, though usually that’s for themes as opposed to specific scene pieces. *shrug* Whatever the case, Poledouris offers plenty of new pieces that work out fantastically for this movie, so even people who disliked the movie shouldn’t be able to argue with the quality of the soundtrack.
However, here’s the weird part. I know for a fact the movie used some of “Kitchen/ The Orgy” from the first soundtrack as well, and yet it doesn’t show up in here. I’m not sure why – maybe because it wasn’t changed at all whereas “Approach to Shadizaar” is slightly different and shorter than the original. There’s also a piece at the end after the monster is destroyed and Conan chats with the princess that I don’t think is on here. There is a 2-disc reproduction of the music in a more complete recording version, so that may be something worth looking into.
The other weird thing about this soundtrack (which actually is not unique to just this one) is that the tracks are all out of order. I don’t know why this happens. However, if you’re familiar with the movie, you should be able to figure out (easily) where each piece should be.
All in all, it’s still a great soundtrack. It always makes me want to watch the movie (yes, I like it, so sue me), and listening to it now, I’m surprised I haven’t listened to it more often. I’ll have to do that because a lot of these pieces would be great to write to. (also good for exercising!)
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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.