“The Rings of Power” and 9 other epic Bear McCreary soundtracks
With a career spanning nearly twenty years, multi-award-winning musician and composer Bear McCreary left his musical mark not only on television, but also in films and video games. At only five years old, it was during a decisive viewing of Back to the future that McCreary discovered his passion for film and television music.
Having recently championed Amazon music The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Powerit’s a good time to take a look at his work on the series and nine other great soundtracks from his discography.
‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ (2022)
Eighteen years later Rock by Jackson epic Middle-earth trilogy concluded with The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the Kingfans of JRR Tolkien sail once more to familiar shores in power rings. Released on August 19, 2022, the miniseries has a staggering 37 titles!
One comes from Howard Shore – who returned to compose the main title theme – and 36 from McCreary. The music is epic in scope and beautifully captures a Tolkien-esque sense of wonder. New themes stylistically respect the established sounds and instrumentation of Shore’s beloved music, while McCreary’s take on this grand mythology is strong. Notable tracks include “Galadriel”, “Númenor” and “Bronwyn and Rounding”.
See takes place after a virus has brought humanity to the brink of extinction, leaving those who survived blind. Jason Momoa plays the role of a father who must protect his twins born centuries later with the mythical ability to see.
Released in November 2019 by Lakeshore Records, McCreary’s soundtrack is taut and haunting. Using soft sounds reminiscent of the song’s chimes, “Fable of Maghra”, and wooden pipe instruments alongside female tribal vocals in “Children and the truth”, McCreary beautifully accentuates the incredible visuals and setting of the show.
“God of War” (PS4) (2018)
God of the war, sequel to 2010s God of War III, came eight years later and saw a prolific game designer Corey Barlog’s come back to shake up the franchise. The video game reinvents itself with completely revised mechanics and a new setting in Norse mythology. This bold leap into a new culture would require a new set of themes and a soundtrack worthy of Sony’s cinematic vision.
Created in front of a live audience at E3, the cinematic score is everything listeners could want for an epic fantasy adventure score. The emotional heart of the record is found in a single track titled, “Echoes of a former life.”
‘Masters of the Universe: Revelation’ (2021)
Featuring a much more energetic and rock-influenced version of the original themes, McCreary’s masters of the universe score is a titanic listening.
Ravishing orchestral segments set to the constant blast of electric guitars and heavy drum kits make tracks like “He-man transforms” an absolute pleasure to listen to for longtime fans of the property and newcomers alike.
Foreign premiered in August 2014 on Starz, an adaptation of the novel series of the same name by Diana Gabaldon. It’s an epic love story set against the dramatic backdrop of the Scottish Jacobite risings of 1745 and their settling in America. The show contains some of the best romantic writing audiences will find on television, further enhanced by its standout performances of Caitriona Balfe like Clare, and Sam Heughan like James Fraser, whose on-screen chemistry is captivating.
For Foreign, McCreary’s obvious love of the folk music of Jacobean Scotland is in evidence. Effortlessly building on this influence, the growing romance between Claire and Jaime unfolds to the sound of strings and bagpipes. Listeners can put any of the McCreary Foreign soundtracks and be instantly transported to the misty hills of Scotland or the bustling townships of primitive America. Standout tracks include “The Skye Boat Song” and “New Dawn at Fraser’s Ridge”
‘Black Sails’ (2014)
Collaborating once again with Starz, McCreary has crafted a fantastic rock-soaked score for this gritty pirate drama. While listeners can expect to hear familiar sounds of drunken chanting and even a hurdy-gurdy, surprises await.
Drawing on his knack for blending unlikely instruments and styles, McCreary gives black sailsits own identity by layering electric guitars over authentic 1700s instrumentals – for rock effect.
“Battlestar Galactica” (2004)
Where it all started for McCreary: Battlestar Galactica. McCreary defied science fiction musical standards with his Battlestar Galactica score.
Moving away from the conventional orchestra-heavy foundations of the post-John Williams period, McCreary crafted a soundtrack dominated by worldly instruments and abstract sounds. The composer cites the time he spent working on the project as the most important part of his life for six years.
’10 Cloverfield Lane’ (2016)
Set shortly after the events of Cloverfield (2008), ten Cloverfield Lane follows Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). After being involved in a serious car accident, she wakes up in a bunker not knowing how she got there.
While this isn’t McCreary’s first time stepping into the horror scene, ten Cloverfield Lane is certainly a star of his adventures in the genre. Similar to classic horror movie scores, the string and horn segments slowly build until the immense tension explodes into a final chorus during “The New Michelle.”
“The Walking Dead” (2010)
As the strings flicker rapidly, a sense of tension and stride emerges before fading into silent darkness. It is the theme of The Walking Dead. The first piece of music was written by McCreary for the show, and it’s a sub-minute piece that would captivate an audience for over a decade.
Released on Halloween day of 2010, The Walking Dead became an overnight sensation. With over ten seasons of music to dive into, listeners can easily immerse themselves in this world. tracks such as “Negan”, “Farm Invasion” and “Carl” provide a great mix and show what McCreary was able to achieve with the show.
“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” (2019)
Released on May 24, 2019 by WaterTower Records, the soundtrack of Godzilla: King of the Monsters is huge. With huge-sounding horns and swelling string sections, McCreary’s musical endeavor reaches dizzying heights and sets the stage in the Directed by Michael Dougherty epic monster vs. monster.
Along with a feature of Serge Tankian (“System of a Down”), the score finds its way into the original music pockets while paying homage to classic themes established over the long run Godzilla franchise. From start to finish, the album is epic and uplifting (“Godzilla Main Title”) while being simply beautiful (“Mothra’s Song”) – albeit very strong.
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