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300: Rise of an Empire (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

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Editors’ Notes

Dutch DJ/composer Junkie XL (a.k.a. Tom Holkenborg) turned award-winning scoring work in his homeland into a wildly successful collaboration with Hans Zimmer (Dark Knight Rises, Inception, Megamind, Divergent). The pair’s work on Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel led to this solo JXL score, one “that was very brutal but fresh at the same time,” the Dutch musician explains. “Something strongly rhythm-oriented, with sound design on original instruments from that time period. It was very important to underscore the fact that this is not your typical historical drama.” With much of the story at sea, JXL echoed the waves in his rhythms, then turned to ancient Persian musical scales for melodic inspiration. “I also wanted to make sure that I had an overall sound that is not necessarily from any of those cultures,” he says. To that end, JXL took an ax to an old piano, attached electric guitar pickups, then played it with drumsticks: “That instrument has become very important throughout the whole score. Not a traditional instrument of any of those cultures, but I just thought it was a really cool element to have.”

Customer Reviews

Epic and Moving

As I write this, the movie itself - "300: Rise of an Empire" - has yet to be released.
However, Junkie XL's soundtrack is out! As with his recent work on "Paranoia", he's separate from Hans Zimmer, but brings a similar vibe to "Man of Steel". And the result is great!

Starting with the near 10 minute long "History of Artemisia", XL seems to pull the listener slowly up from a peaceful ocean and straight into the fierce world of Classical Greece. The following tracks "Marathon" and "Sparta" bring on some heavy, heart-pumping beats that will get you in the mood for battle!

"Artemisia's Childhood" is a calmer, yet driven song that carry on with Artemisia's theme from track one. Then, "Suicide" gives us about a minute of peace and relaxation, before a hint of the Marathon theme kicks in towards the end.

"Left for Dead" is more of a sad track with an edge, that managed to chill me with some haunting images of Leonidas and his 300 Spartans. Then, "Fog Battle" pulls you back into the action and really kicks off by the 1-minute mark. Drums and guitar all the way!

As the action ends, "Beach of Bodies" continues on with what I can only describe as a moving "ode to death". But fear not, "Fire Battle" then rips the sadness from your chest and kicks you down a bottomless pit! With a continuous drive and multiple drums at work, a sense of war and peril manifests in the mind.

"Xerxes' Thoughts" is a calm and slow track, giving a feeling of entering the god-king's sweeping "mind palace" for a while. After that, "History of the Greeks" gives us seven minutes worthy as music to some epic speech. Then there is "Greeks Are Winning", a track that builds up to battle with the roaring Marathon theme.

It all ends with - no surprise - "End Credits", which features an explosive amalgam of the fierce battle themes. A good way to get pumped for training, should you wish to become the next great Greek general!

With "300: Rise of an Empire", Junkie XL has proven that he is more than capable as a composer on his own. He brings to the table both epic action and moving pieces to a soundtrack I didn't expect much from to begin with. It makes me giddy and excited to see the movie. Highly recommended!

War Pigs?

There was a remix of War Pigs by Black Sabbath in the end credits, which is not on the soundtrack. Bummer.

Now I’m Really Excited!

I was already looking forward to 300: Rise of an Empire, but now since I’ve listened to its soundtrack, I’m eagerly awaiting it and I can already tell this will be epic.

Biography

Born: December 8, 1967 in Lichtenvoorde, The Netherlands

Genre: Dance

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Big-beat electronica project Junkie XL was largely the work of Amsterdam-based remixer Tom Holkenborg, previously known for his work with acts like Nerve and Fear Factory. Beginning his career at the age of 14, Holkenborg initially played in area funk and reggae units, later switching to alternative rock. While working in a music store, he began experimenting with synthesizers and technology, and in 1996 won the Grand Prix of the Netherlands as best house music producer. After completing Junkie XL's...
Full Bio

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