22/11/2021

๐Ÿ’ฟ๐Ÿ“€ Kingdom Come: Deliverance Album Review ๐Ÿ’ฟ๐Ÿ“€ @valtajan #VideoGameVinyl #Vinyl

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by Jan Valta - @ValtaJan

Thank you to Warhorse Studios! - Warhorse Studios - Warhorse

Firstly, a huge thank you to Warhorse Studios for this opportunity. For the reasons I’ve written below, this game was a big part of a unique section of my life and, although it is sold out and not widely available at present, they kindly send over a copy that they had in their office specifically for this article, which is very cool of them and hugely appreciated, I definitely owe them a beer, Na Zdravi!Kingdom Come Deliverance was a game that completely took me by surprise. My brother - Transvaal - had played the game upon release, but didn’t click with it and it ended up sort of passing me by. It was only during the lockdown in 2020 that I again stumbled across it on Game Pass and dove in – and ended up spending almost 200 hours wandering the Czech Republic in the 15th century, listening to a man with a broad West Country accent. Good.

The reason that I was so pleased to be able to have the opportunity to cover this record is that my partner (@kingdomofcarts) loves watching me play open-world games anyway, and at a time when she was pregnant and we were housebound due to lockdown, getting lost in the world of Kingdom Come: Deliverance seemed perfectly timed and I have many, many fond memories of the game.

The music – as with all games – plays a huge part, and from the jaunty tunes at taverns to the bombastic battle themes and ominous pieces that play during the games’ more shadowy and tense moments, I became extremely familiar with the musical cues and, even after well over a hundred hours, I’d find myself still whistling along or getting caught up in events – Jan Valta knows how to write a medieval toe-tapper!

The glossy cover features a crest that will be familiar to players of the game, behind which is the faint grey outline of a warrior on horseback, drawn in a style that’s representative of the era in which the game is set. It’s a simple, bold cover that gives off the sense of a text of historical importance, the history of one of the houses, perhaps? On the reverse, the majority of the space is taken up by an aged, cracked paper effect, at the centre of which is a shielded crest. Again, minimal and very much in the style and tone of the game from which the music is taken.

Opening up the gatefold cover, the double-spread inside shows off a serene landscape that appears to be hand-painted. On the left is a parcel of fenced-off farmland and stone buildings whilst the right-hand side shows horses grazing in a field at dusk as clouds and a flock of birds fly overhead, it’s an image that would make a calming framed landscape. Also on the pages are the credits and track listing, including the lengths of each piece of music and the total of both sides combined (41:11). The record itself is a 180g black vinyl, held in a plain white sleeve – there is also a Steam code included that allows you to download the full soundtrack online.
Side One:
Skalitz - (2:21) – The music starts FAST. I’m pretty certain that the horns kicked in the second the needle touched down! This is a great opener - roomy, thudding percussion and growing horns that end in a celebratory crescendo. Very much conjuring up the image of a bird gracefully flying over a cheerful village, the delicate touches of flute and violin also add warmth, compassion and thoughtfulness to the track.

Skalitz is Dying (4:24) – A delicate, quiet start soon gives way to a rising cacophony that drops out suddenly, leaving heartbeat-like drum shots before marching snare and short piano runs and ominous horns make their presence known. Light, high choir work and galloping violin make this a busy and filmic piece that covers a lot of ground in its running time. I enjoyed the purely vocal section that begins angelically and descends into more tension-fuelled drama.

The Talmberg Theme (1:07) – From tension and panic to a more open and lilting moment on the album, the horns take the reigns here, backed by casual harp strums.

Sigismund’s Army at the Gates (3:21) – The flute and harp return with a recurring musical motif that is burned into my brain from my time with the game – before the choir vocals, horns and scattered, marching drums come back to announce that this is another track built on narrative unease. Distant, held violin notes and single-note piano build the track back up to a sudden crescendo that falls back to the more hopeful and celebratory opening section of the song.

Lady Steph and Henry (1:55) – A drift into sweeter territory, the keening violin, mellow flute and rousing strings act as the backdrop to one of the more tender times in the game. A song very much away from the cries of battle, this is the most tender piece so far, a moment of respite for Henry.

Losing Father’s Sword (4:37) – Again, a piece of music that feels nostalgic. Beginning with a high solo female vocal accompanied by sparse instrumentation, there’s a real mournfulness and yet prettiness here in the impressive performance. Clarinet takes over from the vocal and continues on a melancholic path. There’s a really wonderful tonal shift at the midway point where threat creeps in and the instrumentation opens up with cymbal / snare runs, building to a crescendo that almost seems like a villainous reveal. Keep an ear out for a single violin melody towards the end that almost feels like the instrument itself is about to cry!

Till Our Heads Turn White (1:08) – One of my unabashed favourites, a beautiful blast of a tambourine-driven drunken jig that instantly pops out of the album, shaking us out of the emotional weight created thus far, if only for a beer-swilling moment.

People of the Land (2:00) – Another familiar piece, the violin and strings work in perfect harmony creating a swirling and rich melody that rises as other instruments join in. A sweeping end to the first half of the record that is rife with a sense of adventure and possibility, a man moving slowly through a green valley lined by forests, on horseback.

Side Two:
Beer and Women (1:50) – Closest to Till our Heads Turn White, a bright and cheery start to the second side as a flute and stringed instruments again feel like a fireside-lit town fair filled with juicy meats, flowing wine and laughter. The violin really stands out here, it dawned on me how organic and natural the instruments sound, almost like the Assassin’s Creed Valhalla soundtrack – the mixing and mastering feels spot on and warm.

Fighting Runt (1:30) – Single piano notes, more scattered drumwork and a low choir with epic horns marks a return to that historic battle sensibility, a definite shift away from the opening track on this side.

Rattay Feasts (1:34) – Possibly the most iconic song for me! Tambourine, jaunty flute and stabs of violin – with the occasional cheeky riff – spin a tale that has its tongue firmly in cheek.

Talmberg Captured (3:00) – A moody, bassier piece that feels cinematic in its presentation and opening. Shimmering, descending violin and rumbling drums with single-note piano also feel evocative of the tense moments before a scare in a horror movie, this track feels almost gothic or baroque in design, building to a dramatic chase sequence.

Steph is Safe (2:17) - Feeling like the tail end of Talmberg Captured, this begins with a sense of pending unease before gently and carefully raising the mood until it feels like sunlight breaking through cloud – but with difficulty, almost as if it is signifying ‘Steph is safe...but at what cost?’

Things Worth Living For (4:53) – A move to a more triumphant and positive vibe, Things Worth Living For brings everything to the fore, the definite light at the end of a tunnel. Here, the album again features a male vocal - more serious in tonality at the start, it soon turns into what appears to be a cheerful jig before ending comically with someone roughly demanding, “enough of this!” in English. A perfect end to the album that once again shows off the humour that runs through the game. I noticed that the lyrics to this track were written by Daniel Vavra, head of Warhorse Studios, this tickled me when I looked into it as I assumed that it was some traditional Bohemian song – until I saw the translated lyrics, ‘Let them out, show me your knockers’

Brilliant.

The Kingdom Come: Deliverance album covers a lot of ground, it has been created with – as far as I can tell – traditional instruments and the changes of mood from charging warfare through to adventure via the occasional lilting ballad or tipsy tavern jig means that it never feels too cinematically generic or one-note. As a person who has spent a lot of time in the game world, it’s impossible not to want to pick up the game and start playing again after hearing this, the various cues and melodies took me right back to Henry’s side.






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