The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Howard Shore)

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Soundtrack Cover (Special Edition)

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Soundtrack Cover (Special Edition)

Note:  The following review is based on the Special Edition version of the soundtrack

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Soundtrack by Howard Shore (2014)

Get it:  If you enjoy the previous music of this franchise from Howard Shore

Don’t get it:  If you were hoping for something simple in nature

It all started with The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.  Howard Shore captivated audiences worldwide with his enchanting music that put us in a place we never thought we could go.  After receiving numerous accolades, including some Academy Awards, Shore has reentered this world for the trilogy of films collectively known as The Hobbit.  After all these years, this era is coming to an end.  On December 17th, the last film in the franchise will hit theaters.  This will, as of now, be our last chance to go with Shore one more time to Tolkien’s world.

There is no delay with this beginning.  The opening track throws you right into the action.  In fact, this opening track could very well be placed at the climax of other films and it would work very well.  The varieties and changes early on really help to pull you in. 

Now, this is Howard Shore we’re talking about.  He’s legendary and is not going to disappoint.  Don’t expect skimpy tracks – all of his are substantial.  In fact, this soundtrack has some significant length to it, but you may not know how long it is just by listening since the time goes by so quickly.  The strings, woodwinds, brass – all of it as just as good as ever.  At times this soundtrack is strong and powerful, but still yet it can be gentle and soft when called for.  There is never really a dull moment.  Action-styled music is a large focus with this one, so fans of the action-leaning side of the LOTR soundtrack should absolutely love this.  Part of what makes this OST so good is how Shore masterfully combines a splash of the old with the new.  There are numerous elements that are instantly recognizable, but there are also plenty of new things Shore does to keep pushing the boundaries of the musical world he created.  The intensity he captured here and emotions he expresses are quite great.  Howard Shore outdid himself here, and that’s saying a lot.

After all of the intensity seems to be over toward the end, there is a peace on the rise.  Something familiar plays.  But how long does this peaceful familiarity last?  Something is indicating that all is not well.  But, having shown that, it does end gracefully as it closes the door to one of the most iconic film soundtrack franchises ever composed.  Thank you, Howard Shore, for all of the effort you have put forth and hard work you’ve done to help people escape, even beyond the theater, through your music.

Also note that Billy Boyd’s singing to the track “The Last Goodbye” was a very nice touch to the ending.

Here are two clips from the soundtrack:

Click here to shop for the soundtrack out December 9th

Click here or here to preorder the Special Edition

Interview with Ryan Shore

Ryan Shore

Ryan Shore

Ryan ShoreThe Shrine and Prime

FSC:  What inspired you to compose film music?
RS:  My uncle Howard Shore was my main inspiration for composing film music.  When I first took up music at age 11, I began with the saxophone, and at that time I had no thoughts of composing.  All through middle and high school I played in as many bands as possible, from jazz to rock to concert groups.  After graduating high school, I enrolled at Berklee College of Music as an instrumentalist.  In my second year I needed to choose a major, and I decided on film composing because Howard’s composing peaked my interest in it.  Even though I majored in film composing, I actually did very little writing while I was Berklee.  I was mostly playing saxophone, clarinet, and flute full time.  However, around the time I graduated I felt there were music sounds and styles I wanted to explore that I couldn’t do by playing the instruments alone.  So when I graduated, it then felt like the right time to concentrate on composing.
FSC:  You’ve got a lot of credit to your name.  You’ve been nominated for and won many awards and you’ve worked on movies starring actors like Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin.  Among all your credits, do you have a favorite project?
RS:  I have many favorites, and my feelings for them are often influenced by how I was able to record and produce the music.  One of the projects that stands out for me was “Rex Steele: Nazi Smasher”.  That was the first time I was able to record with a full symphony orchestra, which totaled about 110 musicians.  Stylistically, it also gave me a feeling of accomplishment being able to compose a rousing, colorful, adventurous orchestral style and hear it all come together for the first time at that recording session.
FSC:  What is your most memorable moment with an orchestra?
RS:  In recording my own music, the “Rex Steele: Nazi Smasher” experience may be my most memorable moment for the above reasons.  However, perhaps one of the most memorable moments I’ve had with an orchestra was visiting the recording sessions for “Nobody’s Fool” which my uncle Howard composed.  I had never heard a live orchestra up close and in person like that before, and at the same time having the ability to follow along with the conductor’s score.  That recording session planted the bug in me that I wanted to record everything I compose with the best live musicians.
FSC:  What effect, if any, does your relation to Howard Shore and being in a musical family have on you?
RS:  Howard has been a huge influence on me.  We play all the same instruments (saxophone, clarinet, flute, piano), and he gifted me my first keyboard when I was 13.  He also recommended Berklee College of Music to me, which is where he went to college.  Then upon graduating, he gave me my first professional experiences, as I began my career by working for him for 4 years.  So Howard has always been a huge musical inspiration and career inspiration for me.
FSC:  What type of major film project would you like to co-compose with Howard?
RS:  I would like to co-score with Howard a sequel, prequel, or spin-off of any film Howard has previously scored.  I know Howard’s scores extremely well, and it would be fun to begin with themes and a film’s premise that Howard has already given thought to, and then continue to develop it together for a related film.  I read that Mrs. Doubtfire 2 is currently in the works.  That would be perfect.
FSC:  What your favorite movie?  Why?
RS:  Back to the Future.  In my opinion, it’s as about as perfect a movie as is possible.  Brilliant story, writing, directing, casting, acting, editing, cinematography, and of course the tremendous music.  Alan Silvestri’s score is absolute perfection.  Every time the film is on TV, no matter from what moment in the film it’s at, I almost always watch through to the very end because the movie is so great.  There are no slow moments, and every nuance, every scene, and every line of dialogue has meaning to the greater story.  I absolutely love it.
FSC:  If you could describe your style of music in two sentences, what would you say?
RS:  I don’t focus much on my own style.  I only focus on the specific music needs of any given project, and then I compose so the music has resonance with me first for serving the project.
FSC:  What has been your biggest challenge so far?
RS:  I came into the industry only with my passion for music.  However, once you choose to make music your profession, then all the other aspects of career development come into the fore as well, and those have been among the biggest learning curves.
FSC:  In Articles of War, you worked with the Skywalker Symphony Orchestra.  What was that like?
RS:  Incredible.  The Skywalker Symphony Orchestra is a fantastic orchestra, and the Skywalker Ranch is a truly magical place.  George Lucas has built a perfect oasis for creativity and production which is immensely capable, secluded, and serene.  I greatly look forward to being able to go back to the Ranch to record music.
FSC:  If you could be the sole composer of any upcoming project, what would you choose?
RS:  Any movie for Pixar.  They make absolutely incredible films with the very best storytelling.   They’re among my most favorite movies, and I’d be greatly inspired to have the opportunity to score for them.
For more on Ryan, go to his website at www.ryanshore.com