Unfortunately, music is still the weakest point of the expansion. Jeremy Soule is back at the helm, but he still has the same problem: the inability to write a memorable melody. Take the “Main Theme”, for example: it has promise in its ominousness, but it’s too…damn…slow. And the rhythm is too erratic. It does, however, have a recognisable melody this time around, which can be heard as an aural reminder in other tracks. A more successful variation of this theme is “Queen of the Shattered Mirror”, which plays during the first scene featuring the Valsharess. It’s still messy rhythmically, but it’s also faster and has some percussions to liven things up. Rhythmic messiness is really the watchword for the entire HotU soundtrack, as it seems to have gotten worse since the original campaign. “Zorvak’mur”, for example, starts out on a bona fide cacophony, with several different incompatible rhythms vying for attention. There’s also “Dracolich Vix’thra”, which sounds like someone trying to compose music while someone else is killing flies in the background (*thwack! thwack!*) just to spite them, or “Fight in the ‘Yawning Portal’”, which plays during the eponymous event in Chapter 1 and seems to have forgotten that it’s a combat theme, as it consists entirely of buildup with no payoff.
Mind you, there is a handful of tracks that somewhat stands out from the ambient mess. There’s “Lith My’athar”, which combines delicate woodwinds and flutes with a driving undercurrent that creates a sense of unrest. “Confrontation with the Underdark Army” is quite possibly the best track of the expansion, with its frenetic percussions and brass flourishes, creating a real sense of momentous confrontation. “Showdown with Mephistopheles” has less urgency to it, but more flair and originality, peppered as it is with bongo counterpoints and even some organ.