Having played through most of Icewind Dale, I already knew what to expect when buying this CD: some of the most breathtaking music ever to be heard in a computer game, even the Final Fantasy series, with sound quality that rivals that of a real orchestra. Needless to say, I got what I expected from this CD which, to my knowledge, this is a complete soundtrack (although some tracks are found on the unlisted bonus section).
Although I must admit that the opening movie theme didn't exactly blow my socks off, that's probably because its more ambient than some of the other tracks. If you're into ambient music or listen to a lot of film scores, you might like it. Next is the Icewind Dale theme itself. It starts out as a piece of music as wild and untamed as the Dale itself, and thus fits the setting perfectly. However, towards the end it starts to transform into something just as beautiful as it is wild, and your jaw will be on the floor by the end of the track. Next up is the Easthaven theme, a beautiful sweeping track to rival most film scores. My only complaint is that it sounds a bit majestic to portray the backwater village of Easthaven, but is perfect as an "adventure starting out" theme.
If you don't realize what a gem this CD is by now, you will after a few more tracks. Track 9, the hauntingly beautiful Kuldahar Theme, is arguable the best piece on the entire disc! Fans of celtic music will love this one, as it definitely displays strong celtic origins. Even if you're not big into celtic music, I guarantee that Kuldahar Theme will be a real treat.
The rest of the CD is equally good, and displays some awesome work in the dungeon tracks. For example, Yxunomei's Lair, though extremely short, perfectly foreshadows the major battle that is to come. Who could forget the bombastic brass of Lower Dorn's Deep, a track which portrays the giant, slave driven forge so well that you can almost feel the heat of the tons of molten iron?
Finally, the last movie, Victory!, starts with a fanfare to rival all fanfares, then moves into something that sounds just as sinister as anything else on the CD. Since I never finished the game, I am left wondering where the sinister part came from, but it does little to detract from the CD as a whole. After that there are ten bonus tracks, but since I don't know where most of them are from I won't go into much detail. I'll just say that they uphold the some quality of composition that is prevalent throughout the rest of the CD.
Any complaints I have are minor. First off, most of the tracks are extremely short. They average at about one minute, with a few just barely above the thirty second mark. Its a shame that the track ends right as you're getting into it, but the quality is more than enough to make up for it. Second is the lack of battle tunes, which was a problem in the game also. To my knowledge there are only three in the entire game (Lysan's Lair, Battle with Yxunomei (bonus track), and Belhifet's Doom). There isn't even a last boss theme! Third is the fact that some of the actual game tracks are listed as bonus tracks. Why didn't they just put them in the main track list?
But despite those minor problems, Icewind Dale is definitely a soundtrack worth having. Its music rivals most Hollywood film scores, and outclasses anything found in a video game to date. To fans of the game or of orchestral music, I would recommend it in an instant. To anyone else, give it some consideration. Even if game music or orchestral music isn't your cup of tea, there's bound to be something here that you'll enjoy.