Secret Weapons over Normandy

Michael Giacchino

" Flying Medals of Honor "

Written by Thomas Glorieux - Review of the collector's edition

After his departure from the Medal of Honor branch, Michael Giacchino stepped back into war games. The only difference was, they were the ones of Lucas Arts and Activision instead of Electronic Arts. In the end nothing changed except for the fact that the themes would no longer be reprised like the famous Nazi theme or his own MOH theme. But also that Michael stepped into a somewhat different sounding role.

Call of Duty was a total mass of sound, thick and powerful. It could blow you away with a headache if only for the occasional subdued glimpses of themes. It nonetheless was a total departure from the melodic bombardment of themes and therefore, was appreciated because it was different than the rest. But what would Secret Weapons over Normandy bring? A total departure from MOH or a return to form? Luckily it is the latter.

La-La Land Records includes besides a 70 minute score, a second CD which features 14 minutes of added bonus tracks (all short), five special behind the scenes movies (which feature a small portion of Michael Giacchino explaining the size of the orchestra, the evil theme and the main theme) and even a brilliant booklet with pictures, liner notes and most importantly Erik Woods on photo. While the bonus movies are short, they are nonetheless a welcome and cool addition to an already successful release. But this isn't what's important, the music is. And Secret Weapons over Normandy is Medal of Honor in the air, with high quality melodic music taking us for another ride of pleasure and orchestral fun.

While the second disc shows you small parts of additional music, the first disc runs about 70 minutes long, and 60 minutes of that is spend on large based action music.

The main theme is used a lot during the entire score, which was not the case with the MOH scores. In MOH the scores had the two basic main themes (the good and the bad), while all tracks covered a sub theme which it expanded upon. Here, the main theme is the reoccurring one, setting all tracks on fire. But there are other themes as well. There's the Nemesis theme, the Japanese theme (the other evil theme), the Pauline theme and the Me262 attacking theme, all stating one after another their presence.

The main theme is the cracker of the bunch. Resembling the nobility of JFK, it makes for a a wonderful opener ("Main Theme"). "Dunkirk Harbor" states the main theme alongside the evil theme, a bullet like theme with the trumpets making it an attacking theme that is effective and addictive to hear. "Battle of Britain" sets the main theme on a timpani roll while "Operation Sea Lion" has the darker usage of suspense.

The tones of "Zauara" remind you of Indiana Jones and MOH: Underground while stating welcome Spanish interludes and exotic percussion. "The Siamese Coast" introduces the secondary evil theme (the Japanese one), and it doesn't come with a surprise when it is full of taiko drums and horn statements. Pauline's theme delivers flying colours in "The Rescue of Pauline", this alongside the Japanese theme. It is fair to say that the music becomes something else once you've heard and recognised all the themes. Because then the power play's just beginning.

For instance, the 6 minute assault that is "Midway". This is a battle between the main theme, the Japanese theme and the Nemesis theme. "Copenhagen" is bringing you the same, only this time through the Nemesis theme and main theme (notice the great theme of Pauline as well). Furthermore "Stalingrad" presents a large satanic choir with an optimistic ending while "East Prussian Factory Run" delivers us a Russian hymn ala Enemy at the Gates.

There's a relief during "Fjords of Norway" but not for long, because the choir grows rapidly near the end with an epic statement ala Outcast. Sensational. And it just keeps on coming. "Stealing the Me262" constantly attacks your senses (using for once a pompous sub theme) while "The Normandy Coast" gives us the climax of all climaxes, bombarding you with aggressive statements of the Nemesis theme, main theme and the attacking sub theme (representing the Me262), all leading to the finale of finales (aka the main theme with choir and blazing trumpets).

If you think about it, there isn't much that's different from the first track and the last track. It is all centred in the same sounding delight of action, power and delight. So if you want diversity (a touch of difference here or there), you won't find it. But if you look at the positives you'll discover that Michael Giacchino has just taken you back to the pride of MOH. Secret Weapons over Normandy thereby is top notch quality in both the musical and label production. It is a delight of bombastic, sizzling action music and will probably ridicule about 80% of today's action music. Welcome to MOH in the Air.


Disk One: 68.57
1. Main Theme (4.54) Excellent track
2. Dunkirk Harbor (3.18)
3. Battle of Britain (4.15)
4. Operation Sea Lion (3.51)
5. Zauara (4.10)
6. The Siamese Coast (4.23) Excellent track
7. The Rescue of Pauline (4.16)
8. Midway (6.03) Excellent track
9. Copenhagen (3.31)
10. Stalingrad (4.05) Excellent track
11. East Prussian Factory Run (3.32) Excellent track
12. Fjords of Norway (4.32) Excellent track
13. Stealing the Me262 (5.03) Excellent track
14. Peenemude (4.41)
15. Harz Mountains (3.07)
16. The Normandy Coast (4.39) Excellent track

Disk Two: 14.04
1. Gold Guy Logo (0.09)
2. Prelude (1.06)
3. Dunkirk Harbor Extra (1.28)
4. Battle of Britain Extra (1.01)
5. Operation Sea Lion Extra (1.08)
6. Zauara Extra (0.32)
7. The Siamese Coast Extra (0.37)
8. Copenhagen Extra (1.33)
9. Stalingrad Extra (0.49)
10. Prussian Factory Run Extra (1.40)
11. Fjords of Norway Extra (0.20)
12. Harz Mountains Extra (0.43)
13. The Rescue of Pauline Extra (1.54)
14. Belgian Navy Song (0.28)
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 19 votes - average 4.18/5)

Released by

La-La Land Records LLLCD1013 (regular release 2003)

Conducted & Orchestrated by

Tim Simonec

Performed by

The Northwest Sinfonia