2. Exiled (3:41)
The opening of this track features some of the only warmth in the score, playing an offshoot of the Arabic theme on woodwinds with cithara and percussion accompaniment. However, at about the two minute mark, it shoots into the first of the epic action setpieces, with thundering brass and percussion stingers under a repeating passage of 7 horn notes, which are (surprisingly) in a major key. In the final section of the cue, Goldsmith quiets the orchestra and melds the main Viking theme into one of the transition motifs, which I don't think is as good as its usual form.
3. Semantics (2:38)
The main reason to listen to this track is for its ending, which I'll get to in a while. After a subdued opening, the choir and percussion enter over a huge statement of the Viking theme. Next is a quieter section with the Arabic theme played on a ethnic flute. Soon, the Arabic theme reaches a thundering crescendo, and gradually increases its orchestration into a fully choral anthem of epic proportions.
4. The Great Hall (5:20)
A quieter, more reflective tone opens this lengthy cue. Some of the early highlights are a Gregorian chant-like choral section, surrounded by the Arabic theme and a short outburst of the abbreviated Viking theme in woodwinds, as well as more choral theatrics. Soon, this same theme gets one of its trademark arrangements with tutti trombones and a self-contained choral theme. The last section continues the abbreviated theme, with this same choral motif.
5. Eaters of the Dead (3:32)
Another of the more quieter tracks on the album, this contains an incredibly surreal soundscape with a ghostly ethnic flute cameo as well as dissonant percussion. Later, another Medieval chant enters with male chorus, which sounds vaguely like parts of Orff's Carmina Burana (NOT O Fortuna! Boy, say Carl Orff, and all anyone thinks about is a Duel of the Fates-like charging choral sound).
6. Viking Heads (1:29)
Now we hit a long string of lengthy action cues, all of which are memorable. Goldsmith bases this one on an even-more abbreviated motif from the Viking theme, with incredibly loud bass drums.
7. The Sword Maker (2:06)
Personally, the next three tracks are the best sections of the entire score. "The Sword Maker" continues the Viking theme with choral chanting, but more upbeat and positive, almost like a national anthem. Later, the Arabic theme resurfaces for a while, with a presentation on the cithara. The last minute here contains some great contrast with this theme and the main theme played side by side.
8. The Horns of Hell (3:25) (Don't you just love
these Viking titles? If you didn't know what the movie was about,
there would be no doubt in your mind after reading the track titles.)
As its title would indicate, this begins with fortissimo blasts, alongside one of the main choral themes. Here, the Viking theme is transformed into an action motif, played by its native French horns, now in their lowest register. After a short quiet section, racing strings take over for one of the most exhilirating sections of Goldsmith's '90s output, accompanied by both the Arabic and Viking action themes.
9. The Fire Dragon (4:53)
The final member of this trio of action setpieces (although definitely not the last on the album) continues with the super-abbreviated Viking theme, under continually rising strings and bellowing brass. There's not really much to talk about here - just sit back and enjoy the epic spectacle. Trust me - it's one of the most frantic and exciting pieces on the album.
10. Honey (2:36)
Returning to quieter surroundings, we now get a recap of the Viking action theme in chorus, with a delicate woodwind accompaniment. Not really a highlight of the album, but it's a much-needed break from the fantastic action music.
11. The Cave of Death (3:00)
Although not an action cue per se, this contains some of the more exciting music in the score. It opens with an awesomely unstable impressionistic motif, on which the rest of the cue is based, intercut with dark orchestral rumblings, some with the abbreviated Viking theme. In the final 30 seconds is a brief section of dissonance.
12. Swing Across (1:49)
Another burst of action. This is decidedly more ferocious than some of its counterparts, replacing their steady stomping with a furious string chase motif. The horn fanfare in the last quarter is a highlight, almost sounding like a swashbuckling Korngold theme.
13. Mother Wendol's Cave (4:12)
Here we get the final remotely subdued piece of the score, a prelude to the 13 minute action duo coming next. Still, it's got some loud sections, mostly with the first section of the Viking theme under trademark Goldsmith high strings. The dissonant motif from "Cave of Death" also makes a cameo.
14. Underwater Escape (1:36)
A prelude to the intense climax of the score, this action piece's main highlight is an exciting series of diminished string runs. The Viking theme also appears in its various forms.
15. Valhalla/Viking Victory (10:35)
Wow, 11 straight minutes of Goldsmith action. Pure nirvana. It would be impossible to go through and list every highlight here, but just suffice it to say that he takes all the themes and motives and blends them into an unforgettable victory cue. Although "Valhalla" is quieter, with the short chromatic Viking and Arabic themes put into soaringly melodious arrangements, Goldsmith soon throws at us the most unforgettable statement of the Viking music in the entire work. The horns get it, and it's thrown under a virtuoso Vivace brass and percussion sequence. Finally, in the last 4 minutes, the choir resurfaces for a huge victory theme.
16. A Useful Servant (1:18)
Instead of going out with a huge bang, Goldsmith ends the score with a short, tender recap of the first part of the Viking theme, as well as a return of the full Arabic theme. It ends with more of the victory motif from the previous cue, going out on a full major chord. I recommend that, like The Mummy, you go back to the first cue for a more satisfying end to the score.
Overall, I don't think it's possible to go wrong
with this score. If you love loud, melodic action music in the vein
of The Wind and the Lion, be sure and pick this up.