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  1. It's been out for a while now, so I was curious to see what the board's resident Two Steps guys (Peter, Feliz, Scribe etc.) think of their latest album, Battlecry, released earlier this year?

    My thoughts: it's very (very very) good, but I am a wee bit disappointed at how closely it hews to the style Bergersen seems to have established for himself post-Illusions - the longer cue lengths, the predictable build-up structure, the world-music vocalists etc. If Sun was Illusions 2 then essentially this is Illusions 3. And I know it's silly to complain about stylistically similar follow-ups to what is quite handily one of my favorite albums of all time, but I'm slightly starting to miss the stylistic variety of earlier albums like The Devil Wears Nada or Dreams and Imaginations or even Skyworld. Looking at the front cover I somehow got it into my head that the album's style would be orchestral in sort of a brutally militaristic way, and was a little let down when that's not what it was like at all, but that expectation was based on no evidence whatsoever, so serves me right. tongue

    Because what's there is pretty fantastic, especially the two post-"That's a Wrap" John Powellesque crazy orchestral fireworks of goodness that are "Cannon in D Minor" (heh) and "Flight of the Silverbird" (which pits a pennywhistle melody against an electric guitar undercurrent (!), which I at first thought had never been done before, but then I remembered oh right, "Test Drive"! Cues are nothing alike, though). "Victory" is a lovely track as well that would fit right in on Sun or Illusions and be as good as anything on them. Same goes for "Star Sky"; although I have no use whatsoever for the version with lyrics, it was thoughtful and commendable of Two Steps to include an instrumental, showing that they know their fanbase pretty well, and it's one of the best tracks on the album.

    The Nick Phoenix tracks, as usual, I pretty much ignore. Guy's as vanilla a composer as I can think of, and seems to show little-to-no signs of improving (on the contrary, I feel like his music is growing less and less interesting...or perhaps that's just my taste evolving away from "everything with a giant orchestra and chanting choir is good no matter how dull the underlying composition").

    Anyways, enough rambling. Thoughts?
    • CommentTimeJul 24th 2015
    "Battlecry" is a brilliant album, just as you have come to expect from TSFH. Just like you I favor the tracks from Bergersen, however I love Phoenix's "Stormkeeper"... so I actually DO think he is improving. Wish he wouldn't sing, though smile

    "Star Sky" is my favorite track, and I love that it has lyrics. I have also bought the lyrics version of "None Shall Live", which was released as a single. Very cool song, IMO.
    • CommentTimeJan 17th 2016 edited
    Edmund Meinerts wrote
    It's been out for a while now, so I was curious to see what the board's resident Two Steps guys (Peter, Feliz, Scribe etc.) think of their latest album, Battlecry, released earlier this year?

    My thoughts: it's very (very very) good, but I am a wee bit disappointed at how closely it hews to the style Bergersen seems to have established for himself post-Illusions - the longer cue lengths, the predictable build-up structure, the world-music vocalists etc. If Sun was Illusions 2 then essentially this is Illusions 3.

    My thoughts are along the same lines. Overall, it's obvious that Bergersen is growing more and more talented, and he's bringing out some really cool ideas and sounds. But lately some really promising tracks have lost a lot of momentum as soon as the vocalist comes in--that's where it sounds like he's treading old ground.

    The utilization of vocalists used to be a little more creative, I think. The subtle inclusion of the Bulgarian vocalist in Freedom Fighters was a very nice final touch on one of my favorite tracks. The vocalist in Ulthuan was certainly unique back in Illumina. The use of The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices Choir in Starvation was well done and interesting; that choir has a fascinating and distinct sound and it was awesome hearing them in trailer music. Lately the vocalists have sounded a little more same-y. Or maybe it was just fresher back then. Either way, switching it up would be cool. I think it'd be interesting to hear Scala in it's quieter mode in some TSFH stuff.

    Anyway, for Battlecry, my faves were Cannon in D Minor, Flight of the Sliverbird and Star Sky (in spite of the vocalist wink ). I'm a sucker for the sounds in None Shall Live as well. Flight of the Silverbird sounds like Bergersen aping Powell's Dragon's sound to me, but I couldn't be happier about that. In my dream score, Powell and Bergersen team up with Robert Folk. :P
    • CommentTimeNov 5th 2016
    New album, Vanquish, reportedly coming out before the end of year.
    https://www.facebook.com/twostepsfromhe … 90/?type=3
  2. Vanquish is out. Anybody heard it? I'm just playing through my first listen, nine tracks in. Most of it is pretty standard stuff, but I was mightily impressed by Bergersen's "Enchantress." That's a fantastic track, right up there with the best he's ever written, imo.
  3. I'm getting it tomorrow (on my birthday, no less). Watch this space for what will no doubt be some exhaustive ramblings. wink

    I'm very excited for "Enchantress" (love it when Bergersen goes for longer-form pieces) and I've also heard really good things about "High C's", which people say is a stylistic successor to "That's a Wrap", which is one of my favorite pieces of music of all time. Excited! lick
  4. Well happy birthday! Listening to "High C's" right now. I think you're going to love it. Parts of it sound like they escaped right out of How to Train Your Dragon 2. It's also swashbuckley. My favorite part starts after about 3:52, though the transition is a little jarring as it sounds more like Joel McNeely in Iron Will mode. I like it, but I've got to give the win to Enchantress.
    • CommentTimeDec 10th 2016
    A very good album, I think. Thomas Bergersen is a great composer, but I think Nick Phoenix has outdone himself this time, with Fall of the Fountain World and Vanquish being some of my favorite tracks of the whole album. Bergersen's Enchantress and High C's takes the price, though smile
  5. I thought "Fall of the Fountain World" was great and was optimistic that it would finally herald a step forward into actually memorable and emotionally engaging music from Nick Phoenix...alas, most of the rest of his stuff on Vanquish falls back into his usual boring predictable patterns. And I can't say I'm a fan of more and more songs (with LYRICS) creeping into Two Steps' work, to the point that you can basically expect at least two song-songs per album now (and they didn't even give us instrumentals this time!). I listen to film scores and orchestral music precisely to get away from that kind of stuff.

    Bergersen's work on Vanquish is solid as usual, but not, I think, up to his very very best. He seems a bit more restrained than usual, with most of the album's big epic action pieces falling in Phoenix's not-as-capable hands. "High C's" is a hell of a ride though, with a lovely little pseudo-tribute to How to Train Your Dragon 2 at the 3:20 mark. wink
    • CommentTimeDec 11th 2016 edited
    I kinda like the singing (as long as it isn't Nick Phoenix singing), but they should make the songs available in an instrumental version as well, just as they did with some of the tracks on Battlecry.

    I do agree that Bergersen has produced better music than this, but it's still very good smile
  6. New Two Steps From Hell album out tomorrow. Called Unleashed. Tracklist here.

    The really interesting thing is that there's an "uncompressed mix" version of all tracks. Considering the absolutely brickwalled mastering that plagues most of 2SFH's music, I'm super pleased and excited to see this option being offered. Will be great to hear their music finally get a chance to breathe a little bit! (Now if only they'd go back over the last few albums and uncompress those...)
  7. Nice! I'm excited to hear that.
  8. Since "sonic exhaustion" is a frequent complaint I hear about them, I'm curious to see whether these uncompressed mixes will help with that. Given that what Two Steps writes is (at least nominally) trailer music, I wonder whether the loudness is simply something that the industry demands from them (to make sure those trailers are as earsplitting and attention-grabbing as possible). Great to see them find a solution that can satisfy both parties.
  9. Indeed. I already like their sound, so I'm curious to see whether I'll like these uncompressed mixed better or not.
  10. Hey, Edmund (or anyone else that knows), what's your take on these anthology albums? I hadn't noticed that they've been releasing a bunch of these all in the last little while.
    • CommentTimeSep 22nd 2017
    I am looking forward to their concert in April next year.
  11. christopher wrote
    Hey, Edmund (or anyone else that knows), what's your take on these anthology albums? I hadn't noticed that they've been releasing a bunch of these all in the last little while.

    Well, I've been following 2SFH for so long that I know all the music on those anthology albums from their original sources, even if those were industry albums that were never released to the public and I have no business actually owning shame . There's definitely some great music on there, although personally I'm not super interested in all the non-choir versions and stuff like that. They're usually good for one curiosity listen, and then delete. But it's definitely good to see that stuff become available to the general public, a track like "The Devil Plays a Smoking Trumpet" from Nero is way too good to just lie moldering in some music licensing company's vault.
    • CommentTimeSep 27th 2017
    Not much tickets left for their concert in Prague. If you are in doubt you have to decide fast.

  12. So I've been digesting the new 2 Steps album for a few days. Help me with the difference between compressed and uncompressed. Isn't it just the difference between CD quality and MP3 quality? When they compress music for MP3s some of the little things from the uncompressed files are lost, right?

    I'm listening to the compressed and then uncompressed versions of this music, trying to hear a difference, and there are some differences, but I'm not sure it has to do with the compression. The compressed version is louder. That doesn't have anything to do with compression, though, right? It seems like the uncompressed version is quieter, and yet it's a little easier to pick out some of the quieter instruments (at least that's what it seems). The compressed version seems more dynamic, though, with a greater difference in volume between the quieter parts and the loud parts, though that may just be because the music is louder on the album. Again, though, dynamic range doesn't have anything to do with compression, does it?

    My bigger question here, though, is what the point of this is. If you download this album on itunes, isn't every track compressed? Don't you need a CD to get that kind of quality? Or is there some other digital file that isn't lossy? And so then the question is, are there different kinds of digital files on this album? Are the first 36 tracks a compressed digital file and the next 20 uncompressed?
  13. I think you're getting thrown off by the fact that "compression" can, unhelpfully, mean two different things when it comes to audio. There's the compression that takes place when a lossless audio file is transformed into a lossy one, i.e. CD to mp3, in which the highest and lowest frequencies (inaudible to human ears, in theory) are shaved off to reduce the size of a file.

    But the compression we're talking about here is not that, but rather dynamic range compression, which is a part of the mastering process. I'm no expert, so someone like Erik who knows about the subject more feel free to correct me if I'm saying anything wrong, but basically what DRC does is reduces the amount a piece of music's volume fluctuates, essentially making quieter parts louder so as to produce a more consistent listening experience. It's done basically so that when people are listening to music in loud environments, e.g. in the car, on the radio or out and about on crappy earbuds, the quiet parts of a song or piece aren't drowned out so as to be inaudible. It's also done a lot during commercials and trailers to make them as loud as possible so that they grab your attention (this is the reason why TV ads always seem so much louder than the actual programming).

    However, when done too much to music, you end up with the loudness war. Album masterers are so eager to try and give the music artifical "punch" that they end up turning every song into a big ol' rectangle, and the effect of that is that your ears get tired of the music because everything is at the same loud decibel level. And Two Steps has been getting gradually worse and worse about this for years, which is why I so frequently hear people say things like "it's good music, but I can never listen to more than a few tracks at once". It's not just that the music is super bombastic (which it is, admittedly), it's that the medium-loud parts are just as loud as the loud parts and the quiet parts are only barely quieter. Your ears don't get a respite. Plus it robs the parts that should be properly loud of their impact; since everything is so loud already, the climaxes can't stand out. Of course, Two Steps From Hell are in the trailer music trade...and remember that ads like to be as loud as possible to grab your attention, and I think we've found the reason why they master the way they do.

    And that's why I was so pleased to see them offer an "uncompressed version" of their new album. And also kind of surprised that you say the compressed version seems more dynamic, when it really should be the other way around. It's the uncompressed version that should have the greater differences in volume (and indeed does, when I drag the two versions into Audacity to compare the waveforms side by side).
  14. Maybe the uncompressed version all just sounded quieter to me.

    Thanks for the explanation. Thanks makes way more sense smile
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2018
    And my report of the Two Steps from Hell concert held in Prague is online :-)

    https://soundtrackworld.com/2018/05/pra … from-hell/
    • CommentAuthorLars
    • CommentTimeJul 27th 2018
    new album release by Thomas on july 31th. American Dream. the sound clips are amazing

    https://www.amazon.de/American-Dream-Th … A180848031