I don't envy Russell Brower or any of the team that worked on the soundtrack for Diablo III. Following up on Matt Uelman's legendary work on the first two titles in the series, in particular the iconic Tristram theme, can't have been an easy task.
Fortunately, Brower and co. have managed to craft a follow-up that is at once evocative of its predecessor but also uniquely its own. Steering away from the slightly more high-adventure type of sound found in Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, the Diablo III soundtrack features a number of brooding melodies, haunting ambience, and memorable character tracks.
British male choir voices were used to represent the forces of the High Heavens, and a more chilling Irish choir was used to portray the aural identity of the Burning Hells, and this serves the music very well. It's very clear what types of characters are involved with certain scenes and events simply by their musical signature. This is especially evident (and well-executed) in the track "The Eternal Conflict," which features an excellent blending of both sounds that gives you a real sense that these are two different forces engaged in a truly eternal struggle.
The track "New Tristram" is great as well. Opening with the oh-so-familiar riff, this song quickly expands outward to reflect both the hope that this new settlement brings to the people of Sanctuary, as well as the somber tones of the encroaching evil. A minute into the song, there is even a high pitched string that, at least for me, represents the falling star that sets the entire story into motion and throws the town of New Tristram into chaos.
Each of the classes has its own theme song as well; these tracks do a great job reflecting the varied personalities of each warrior. My personal favorite (though I confess, this definitely is due in some part to my love of the class itself) is the "Wizard" theme song; it opens with soft, mysterious wind sounds and a full, ominous drumming with a measured progression to higher notes that is incredibly successful in reminding me of the wizard's pride and mystique. Brilliant stuff here.
Another stellar (no pun intended) character track is "I Am Justice," theme song of the angel of Justice, Tyrael. Utilizing the choir fully to demonstrate both the majesty and sacrifice of the character, the track is both moving and galvanizing.
The last track I would point potential listeners to is "And the Heavens Shall Tremble," the main theme of the game. Greeting players when they first open the game, as well as during a key battle in the storyline, this song is a dramatic orchestral piece with a great sense of progression. After the exceptionally memorable main theme from Lord of Destruction, this track is an excellent follow-up and a worthy piece of music to serve as the game's frontispiece.
Perhaps the best praise I can give this album is this: unlike many western RPG soundtracks, Diablo III's score serves not only as melancholic ambience and brooding accompaniment to the action of the game, but also introduces a number of memorable melodies and great character themes that stay with you, long after you've finished listening or playing. This music comes highly recommended.
Reviewed by: Stephen Meyerink