The Banner Saga/Wintory

June 28, 2014




Having just completed a review of the 1981 film Pennies from Heaven which dealt with 80 year old music from the 30’s the next selection in the stack was about as different as oil and water. This is a video game and only my second review of one, the first being one I did for Naxos back in 2011. That was a compilation and this is 70 plus minutes of material from one game. So in a way this is a first. It is also a first for Reference Recordings who are expanding their horizons on their new Fresh music sub-label now has nine releases and I look forward to reviewing more in the future.

Another label I review for BSX introduced me to Austin Wintory with their releases of Grace, and Captain Abu Raed, scores because of their affiliation with the Sundance Festival brought his name into the spotlight. Both of these releases are still available from them at only $4.99 each, a very good buy.

The Banner Saga is an epic role-playing game inspired by Viking legend. Hand-painted landscapes portray a world eerily suspended in perpetual twilight. Cities and towns begin to crumble into chaos. Heroes abandon their hearths and homes to traverse the snowy countryside, gaining allies along the way to help battle a strange, new threat.

Decisions have consequences; wise choices must be made when conversing with possible allies during intricately crafted dialogues. Turn-based strategy brings tactical challenge in hand-animated battle sequences. With visuals evocative of the golden age of animation, The Banner Saga brings skillfully crafted art, story and strategy to gamers waiting to re-experience classic adventures and tactics*


The opening cue “We Will Not Be Forgotten” a scant forty seven seconds does set the mood for the remainder of the score. It is a proud majestic opening featuring the horns of the Dallas Winds. “How Did It Come To This” opens like an orchestra tuning up before it switches to a contrabassoon solo that will test the woofers of your system! Remember this is a Reference Recording and all recordings are not equal. Johnson and his recording crew make it better. They just have superior clarity. “No Tree Grows To The Sky” begins with an epic statement with the horns calling out, another excellent example of the superior playing of the Dallas Winds. This segues into a male chorus who are chanting.

The theme is one that is developed and also introduces the didgeridoo 250px-Australiandidgeridoos   an Australian instrument which seems to adapt well to this recording. “Cut with a Keen Edged Sword” intoruduces an extended solo of the violin performed by Taylor Davis. Wintory’s addition of the violin, electric guitar, and didgeridoo definitely enhance this recording as do the Icelandic vocals. “No Life Goes Forever Unbroken” brings back a return to the theme we heard in “No Tree Grows to the Sky.” The track is one that you can feel the strong presence of the percussion.

Overall with a minor amount of annoyances I really like the score. The recording is superb like all Reference Recordings material. I’m interested enough to try the game and see how the material fits into the framing as long as it doesn’t take too long to learn. You can teach an old dog new tricks. Buy direct from Reference and receive a special sale price of only $14.98.


Track Listing:

  1. We Will Not Be Forgotten (0:47)
  2. How Did It Come To This (2:50)
  3. No Tree Grows To The Sky (2:44)
  4. Only The Sun Has Stopped (1:22)
  5. Cut With A Keen Edged Sword (3:33)
  6. Huddled In The Shadows (3:03)
  7. There Is No Bad Weather (1:00)
  8. Teach Us Luck (0.34)
  9. No Life Goes Forever Unbroken (2:51)
  10. Little Did They Sleep (2:12)
  11. An Unblinking Eye (1:07)
  12. Thunder Before Lightning (2:51)
  13. Embers In The Wind (1:27)
  14. A Long Walk Still Our Hearts (1:22)
  15. The Egg Cracks (2:04)
  16. Three Days To Cross (2:05)
  17. Walls No Man Has Seen (1:57)
  18. Strewn Across The Bridge (6:04) track is included
  19. Weary The Weight of the Sun (1:52)
  20. An Uncertain Path (2:11)
  21. Into Dust (2:45)
  22. On the Hides of Wild Beasts (1:24)
  23. From the Table to the Axe (1:17)
  24. A Sunken City (1:44)
  25. Our Heels Bleed From The Bites of Wolves (2:01)
  26. Long Past That Last Sigh (2:47)
  27. Of Our Bones, the Hills (10:20)
  28. We Are All Guests Upon the Land (2:23)
  29. Onward (3:13)





One Response to “The Banner Saga/Wintory”

  1. I agree with you Tom, this is a fine piece of work. I’d urge you to give a listen to the same composer’s Journey (another video game) – which I thought was quite exceptional.

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