Recording information: Rudolfinum Concert Hall, Prague.
Editor: David Klotz.
Much like one of Game of Thrones' episodes, the soundtrack to the fourth season of HBO's hit TV series based on George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire books touches on a wide range of characters and settings. Once again, Ramin Djawadi establishes the majesty and misery of the Lannisters with cues as varied as the regal "First of His Name," the heartbreaking "You Are No Son of Mine," and Sigur Rós' version of "The Rains of Castamere," which just might be the unluckiest song in all of Westeros. Djawadi also conveys Daenerys Targaryen's increasingly complicated rise to power with "Breaker of Chains," nods to the Middle Eastern flavor of her surroundings with "Meereen"'s hand drums and rustling flutes, and even offers a love theme (albeit a bittersweet one) with "I'm Sorry for Today." However, much of the soundtrack revolves around the chaos and sorrow in the North, alternating between brutal battle music like "Thenns" and "Let's Kill Some Crows -- both of which feature clanging percussion that sounds like blades grinding on each other -- and mournful pieces such as "The Real North" and "The North Remembers." Interestingly, several cues affiliated with the action in the North ("Watchers on the Wall," "The Children") closely echo Game of Thrones' main theme, which remains one of the iconic pieces of 2010s TV music. Since this is music from the show's fourth season, it's not surprising that there's more than a little repetition in Djawadi's cues; after all, a score should have recurring motifs. Fortunately, he incorporates them so artfully that the result is cohesive instead of boring. Other highlights include the themes to the episodes "Two Swords" and "Oathkeeper," as well as the ethereal "Three Eyed Raven," which reflects the growing power of magic in Westeros. Equally fresh and familiar, Game of Thrones: Season 4 will satisfy fans passionate enough about the show to purchase its soundtracks. ~ Heather Phares