King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Composed By: Daniel Pemberton

Distributed by: WaterTower Music

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                In the newly imagined tale of King Arthur by Guy Ritchie, Charlie Hunnam is Arthur Pendragon, a man robbed of his birthright as a baby by his treacherous uncle Vortigern (Jude Law) who has his mother and father killed.  The sole survivor of Vortigern’s coup, Arthur is raised by prostitutes in Londinium, becoming a skilled fighter in the streets of the town.  Captured by Vikings, friends of his uncle, he is forced to pull a sword from a stone, discovering the prophecy attached and his true lineage.  Can he escape the bonds of his treacherous uncle and take the throne as its rightful heir?

                The musical score of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, was created by award-winning British composer Daniel Pemberton.  Known for marrying electronic and orchestral sound in his works, Pemberton has been called on of the most innovative and experimental voices in British television.  He was named Discovery of the Year at the World Soundtrack Awards in 2014 for his work on the films Blood, In Fear and Cuban Fury.  Other works by Pemberton include Upstairs Downstairs, Hiroshima, The Awakening, The Counselor, Steve Jobs, The Vatican and more.

                Though the score of this film contains the expected Celtic air, there is a more modern feel…a more primal feel…featuring heavy percussion, distorted yells and breathing, sawing of strings, finger cymbals and more.  The second track, King Arthur Legend of the Sword reminds me very much of Come with Me Now, an alternative rock track by the South African band Kongos.  That rock beat is so very close to that song, but never exactly the same.

According to the composer, “This isn’t your usual Hollywood epic adventure, it’s a Guy Ritchie Hollywood epic adventure.  That means usual rules don’t apply. In fact, no rules apply. All that matters is can you make a score that sounds like nothing else? That was the mission.  I started to curate a mongrel orchestra made up of the weirdest instruments and sounds I could find and make.  I would be up at 2am with my face red and stinging, having spent the last hour slapping it as hard as I could to get unusual percussive sounds. I told my neighbors to not worry if they heard any screaming from my flat; I was just trying an idea out. There is so much rich imagery in the film – the dirt, the grime, the metal, the leather, the wood, the stones – I wanted to bring as much of this into the score as I could. We wanted the music to feel physically visceral.

                Thus, the action scenes in the film are incredible, adrenaline-pumping affairs with those screams and slaps, etc. that began as experiments by the composer and ended up as major components in the score.  Even the non-action scenes left the listener on edge with that ominous sound.  The film itself may have been a box-office bomb, but the King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Soundtrack was a hit in my books and well-worth the listen!


For feedback, visit our message board or e-mail the author at