First off, I'd like to explain the title. Harry Gregsom-Williams already proved himself to be quite the composer with Shrek and Shrek 2. However, they are Shrek and Shrek 2. Not exactly the most respected genre of scores. So to pull off such a dramatic piece as Kingdom of Heaven should really propel him, especially with his role in the Chronicles of Narnia movie(s).
Now to the actual score. It was a real pleasure to listen to as it contains a wide variety of music. You have a "Heavenly" choir whose involved in basically half the score. Then you've got a mix of both contemporary scored music (John Williams, Hans Zimmer, etc.) and Arabian wood music. Williams was also thee producer of the album along with Peter Cobbin, and they made sure that we got enough of both types of music to be satsisfied, but not too much as we would get tired of it.
There is no particular style that you would be reminded of while listening to Kindom of Heaven, but a large mixture of them. Certainly the most influential style to this score would be Hans Zimmer (who was originally picked by Ridley Scott, who worked with Zimmer on Gladiator). But there is also some pieces that might remind people of Carter Burwell's "Alamo." Williams and Shore types could also be heard here.
A guide to these great tracks:
1. Burning the Past--Well people with experience with scores know how the first track always sounds. Afterall, they need to put a slow paced score in order to fit well witht he credits and title. However, this is one of the best opening scores I've ever heard. It's got a very heaven;y feel to it as the chorus sings like mourners. Sometimes I get the chills listening to it. Very unique instrument use, too. Don't know what it is exactly. Turns out that the tune in this track is also the suspense/mourning theme.
2. Crusaders--Here, as is the case with may films, is where the main action theme is introduced. It is a very good four beat theme. Granted, it's not the most original one, but it still is a good listen and works well with a movie.
3. Swordplay--I thought that the beginning of this tune was a bit unfitting for this score. It reminded me of something you'd here from an old sailor movie.
However, it got back to the mood of the original score after those first few seconds.
4. A New World--The first real relaxing track on the soundtrack. Very good wood and string instrument use. Introduced to the more gleeful theme, which will be better used later in the CD.
5. To Jerusalem--Like I said, Gladiator is awesome. Wait- this isn't Gladiator? would have never known from this trck. A bit too similar for my likings.
6. Sibylla--This is a typical love or mourning theme (kinda ironic how those two are so easily lumped together).
7. Ibelin--This is my favorite track on the CD. I know I'm probably showing bad taste, but this is the one song I like to just keep replaying over again. It has such melody to it. It is also the prime showcase of the more gleeful theme. It's the type of music that would typically be played as the caravan is entering a great city, or maybe during a dance, or something of that sort. Probably the best use of Arabic music I've heard on any soundtrak.
8. Rise a Knight--There is more of the suspense theme introduced in the first track on this pre-battle type piece. It's a great track to go along with the scene in order to set up what will happen in the rest of the movie.
9. The King--This is the longest track on the CD at 5:45. It starts of really slow with some nice vocals, but then it starts to get more upbeat in the middle.
10. The Battle of Kerak--Well you can probably guess what this one is like based on the title. Of course, the action/battle theme is promenent here along with some new very enjoyable suspense pieces. HGW is proving to be quite the action composer.
11. Terms--Two very chilling vocals (one male, the other female). Something out of the books of Troy or Gladiator. Overall, it makes a good post-war music. Then a more upbeat drum piece, followed by a Lord of the Rings-ish battle tune.
12. Better Man--This is a combination of the opening track and "Terms." Then there's some more Arabian music so you can get your fix. Very much like Pirates of the Caribbean at the end, too.
13. Coronation--This is the type f track where you know something important just happened in the movie but the score just bores you to death.
14. An Understanding--This starts off with an exotic female vocal with an arabian music background. It then goes on with many other choral effects.
15. Wall Breached--One of the best tracks on the CD. Great use of the drums, as you could imagine with this title. Then it becomes one of the best suspense moments in the score.
16. The Pilgram Road--Some charming wood music to lead off this track, followed by some more Gladiator-type drum and string music (you could have told me Zimmer did this score and I wouldn't be surprised).
17. Saldin--Well this one almost put me to sleep. However, I know that there are a lot of people that love these type of tracks. To each his own.
18. Path to Heaven--Just a typical "wrapping up" piece here. Another heavenly tack with the choral in it besically the entire time.
19. Ibelin Reprise--I am here to proclaim in behalf of soundtrack fans everywhere that not every theme ever composed has to have words put onto it at the end. They tried to do it with the gleeful theme and it just didn't work out well. It seemed really out of place and almost hurts the ears.
So bottomline: I thought about giving this a four star rating for some of the Gladiator copying music and the annoying song at the end, but I decided the the things that were actually original in this score outweighed the things that weren't. It is a Heavenly score and is sure to please soundtrack fans of all types. A great buy.