Chicago Fire: Seasons 1 & 2
Composed By: Atli Örvarsson
Distributed by: Lakeshore Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
The critically acclaimed NBC television series, Chicago Fire, centers around the lives of the firefighters, rescue squad and paramedics housed in Chicago Firehouse 51. The show doesn't just focus on the various fires and rescue missions the crew goes on, but their relationships within the firehouse and their lives outside of the firehouse. The show began its run in 2012 and is well into its third season. In January 2015, Lakeshore Records released the soundtracks of Seasons 1 and 2 of Chicago Fire digitally, releasing CD versions of the soundtracks in May 2015.
The musical score of Chicago Fire was created by Icelandic composer Atli Örvarsson who received recognition in the music industry at an early age, performing with the band Salin Hans Jons Mins prior to attending Berklee College of Music and the North Carolina School for the Arts to study film composition. Having worked with television film composer Mike Post and working in Hans Zimmer's Remote Control Studios, Atli Örvarsson gained further recognition as a skilled movie score composer. His solo résumé includes the musical scores of The Eagle, Thick As Thieves, Vantage Point, Season of the Witch, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, A Single Shot and Chicago PD.
The Chicago Fire: Season 1 Soundtrack features some Celtic sound, perhaps a nod toward the Irish and Scottish roots found in the history of Chicago and its fire department. The personal drama of members of the crew like Casey (Jess Spencer), Severide (Taylor Kinney), Dawson (Monica Raymond) and Boden (Eamonn Walker) are expressed via guitars, piano and a mix of that Celtic sound (After the Fire, Giving Thanks, etc.). In After the Fire, a female choral piece is added to the mix, bringing home the emotional expense of a tough fire...the exhaustion, the aftermath of coming off of a huge adrenaline rush, the loss. Fires receive a very different musical treatment, featuring electric guitars, synths and percussion in addition to electronic sound used to replicate some of the sounds heard in a fire (steel bending, wood becoming engulfed, etc.). Chicago Fire has crossed over with Chicago PD and there is a theme introducing the controversial Detective Henry Voight (Jason Beghe) found on this soundtrack that is quite ominous in nature, as if this man is hated and brings with him some very nasty history.
The Chicago Fire: Season 2 Soundtrack features basically the same musical format with personal drama expressed via piano and guitar with a softer, slower sound than fires, which feature a fast-paced action score complete with heavy percussion, electric and electronic sound. What's missing here is that Celtic sound. There are some interesting tracks here such as Boden's Retirement which has an angry, electric sound and Herrmann Advice which features a funkadelic style.
The musical scores found on both Chicago Fire Soundtracks were so dramatic and emotional that I wondered if I had misjudged the show in my First Impressions article. After all, the series has lasted for more than a couple of seasons. Could I have been wrong? The soundtracks have made an incredible musical impression on me - I'm going to have to watch some old episodes to see whether I might change my mind. In the meantime, though, I'm going to enjoy Atli Örvarsson's score for the series, something I know that Chicago Fire fans everywhere are going to love!