Battlefield I (including expansions)

Johan Söderqvist and Patrik Andrén

" By far the greatest moments in the entire score are the pieces of ’interior music’ "

Written by Joep de Bruijn - Review of the download only release

In 2016 the video game Battlefield 1 was given in the hands of Johan Söderqvist and Patrik Andrén. While Söderqvist has expressed an interest into working on a video game at some point, it was quite a surprise that he, and Andrén, entered on such a high prolific video game, a First World War shooter nonetheless. The score was officially released, followed by shorter releases of all four expansions, but still missing out on much material.

We all know examples of composers who lose their real and unique strength when hired for a big budget project. It was a serious matter to consider when Johan Söderqvist and co-composer Patrick Andrén came aboard Battlefield 1. The game score does include remote control clichés, but also allowed him and his co-composer to follow their regular working methods of experimenting with interesting, unique sounds and instruments. These trademarks make for the better parts of the score and add something to the genre that wasn’t there before: a bass water phone, ney and much more. They offer some truly evocative moments throughout the complete game, which were not all presented on official releases.

By far, the greatest moments in the entire score are the pieces of ’interior music’ written and recorded with a male and female Kurdish singer, along an oud and ney player. These are mostly little artworks on their one, slowly crafting an evocative and desolate feel. Some cues are reserved for the ney playing solo, or coinciding with the haunting female voice and in some examples being part of a low-key atmospheric musical basis. The male voice even gets a considerable amount of time to sing a beautiful passage, with time reserved for several pauses. Such musical ideas are even extremely effectively put to use in tension building and a magnificent solo ney variation on the classic main theme.

The use of choir is limited to a few moments throughout the score and one would expect it to make a grand impact when you get to hear it. Unfortunately, it is rarely given the chance to fully shine and is usually heard in a short and secondary role on the background. Inspirational use of the choir is evident in the cue Libera Me cue and another shorter track, featuring memorable interplay between a boy soprano and the choir.

For the sake of continuity, Söderqvist and Andrén have given the classic Battlefield theme, originally composed by Joel Eriksson, the role it deserves in a new game. It has become a theme of class, a theme worthy of undergoing well-deserved variation in its orchestrations and instrumentation. There is such a great wealth and richness to be discovered throughout the score, from a small and intimate solo instruments, to low-key fragments and fully exposed ’tour de force’ orchestral treatments.

It’s mostly the action and suspense material where problems arise out of the context of the game, as they have certain recognizable features, namely the horn of doom and other clichéd remote control ideas. Even though the word generic comes to mind, I got the sense that underneath all that there is some sheer energy, which makes it mostly entertaining enough and even generates moments of real excitement. Some major action set-pieces, similar to the theme, are reworked into a great number of variations, which gives the composer more than enough to expand upon, without having to start all over again. It is especially gratifying to hear how such pieces evolve throughout the same mission, even some parts that heavily rely on percussion, of which there is a broad mixture to be discovered in the score. While playing the game as a Battlefield entry, as a shooter experience, all criticism on this cliché music mostly diminishes and really shows how well the composers have succeeded in what the music was intended to do in the first place.

I really think Battlefield I is a score with different faces, but you can really tell they brought as much of their own to such a huge endeavor, that almost inevitably would be in contradiction with their usual traits. Being an admirer of Söderqvist’ career, it has provided me with a sense of comfort.

Battlefield I Expansions
The game has received a total of four expansions; Turning Tides, They Shall Not Pass, In the Name of the Tsar and Apocalypse.

Turning Tides features a few lovely military marches and reprises some of the fine oud and ney playing, but offers little time to become very engaging. They Shall Not Pass only memorable asset is the Libera Me like choir that works greatly in the Horror & Darkness track.

In the Name of the Tsar is the expansion that really impresses on grounds of the choir use and the bohak. There's often a sense of mystique as the bohak, slightly different from the sound of the normal cimbalom, is used and the Russian choir offers some truly endearing and powerful moments. The classic theme is frequently presented in short phrases and receives a brief organ treatment.

While Apocalypse shares some of its grittiness with In the Name of the Tsar, the overall tone of darkness is something that separates this from all other expansions and the main game. It does require an ability to look beyond some parts of the music that employ some clichés, but there are some magnificent pieces of music as well, deploying brooding textures and a chilling choir. Another valuable asset is the fragile woodwind solo that produces a solemn, slow melody that gives the score a sense of musical continuity. The actual performance and tempo does not change at all, while the musical elements that surround each moment do. Easily the most evocative moment is saved for the very end, reaching an elegiac conclusion in The Aftermath, in which both the orchestral and choral layers match the pace and tone of the melody best.

Tracklist Battlefield 1
1. Battlefield One 3:20
2. The War to End All Wars 3:23
3. Mud and Blood 3:05
4. Hunted 1:58
5. Prologue 'We Push..' 1:57
6. Nothing Is Written 3:40
7. Avanti Savoia 3:31
8. The Ambush 3:06
9. Black Bess 2:35
10. Steel on Steel 1:56
11. The Swindle 3:24
12. Sinai Desert 1:54
13. Metal Frenzy 1:41
14. Battle Victorious 1:08
15. Battlefield Classic Theme / Mayhem View 3:15
16. The Flight of the Pigeon 1:41
17. Flight School 3:07
18. Something Big Is Coming 3:44
19. Friends in High Places 1:59
20. Knights of the Sky 3:24
21. Gallipoli 1:49
22. The Runner 4:51
23. Epilogue 'We Will Fight..' 2:13
24. Dawn of a New Time 3:14
25. Libera Me 2:32
Total duration: 68:27

Battlefield 1: In the Name of the Tsar tracklist
1 In the Name of the Tsar 2:26
2 Lupkow Pass 1:20
3 Remain Standing 2:12
4 Grace and Glory 2:46
5 Sword in Hand 2:35
6 Hunting Down 3:38
7 The Wolves 2:36
8 Russian Dirge 3:07
9 Snow and Mist 2:10
10 Going Home 0:52
11 Albion Assault 3:17
12 Volga River 2:37
13 Brusilov Keep 0:24
14 Grace and Glory, Pt. 2 1:49
15 The Fear of Everything 2:38
16 Aftermath 1:20
Total duration: 35:42

Battlefield 1: They Shall Not Pass tracklist
1 Horror & Darkness 2:26
2 They Shall Not Pass 2:52
3 Facing North 1:52
4 The Underworld 3:44
5 Verdun 3:35
6 Get Us out of Here 2:56
7 The Fields 1:28
Total duration: 29:58

Battlefield 1: Turning Tides tracklist
1 Zeebrugge Harbour 2:29
2 Cape Helles 3:27
3 For the Empire 1:32
4 Beaches of Sand & Blood 1:41
5 The Shores of Gallipoli 3:19
6 Sand and Dust 5:09
7 The Battleships 1:32
8 Cold Dark Water 4:14
9 Naval Clash 3:28
10 Mystic Movement 1:16
11 On the Ridge 0:35
12 The Peninsula 1:26
Total duration: 29:58

Battlefield 1: Apocalypse tracklist
1 The Four Horsemen 3:10
2 A Storm is Coming 1:25
3 Battlefield 1 Theme Variation 5:10
4 The White Horse 2:05
5 Tortured Metal 3:53
6 Trembling Fear 3:05
7 Battlefield Apocalyptic Theme 0:56
8 Last March 1:10
9 The Red Horse 1:05
10 The Second Seal 2:03
11 Cataclysm 3:09
12 Lacrimosa (Battlefield 1 Epilogue) 3:51
Total duration: 30:55
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(total of 5 votes - average 3/5)

Released by

Electronic Arts (download only release 2016)