Tooth and Tail

Musical Score By: Austin Wintory

Distributed by: Varese Sarabande Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                Tooth and Tail is a real-time strategy game released by Pocketwatch Games.  It takes place in a land of anthropomorphic animals, much like the characters in the Redwall series of novels.  At this time, there is a severe food shortage and the process by which the society’s “people” are selected for slaughter in order to feed the populace has broken down.  Civil War has begun amongst four factions – The Longcoats, The Commonfolk, The KSR and the Civilized – all in a fight over who must become the meat to feed the population. 

                The musical score of Tooth and Tail was created by Austin Wintory, a man whose career began at ten years of age when his obsession with composing began, fueled by the discovery of Jerry Goldsmith and his scores for Patton and A Patch of Blue.  In high school, he composed for the student orchestras.  In college, Wintory studied at NYU and USC with composers such as Morten Lauridsen, Charles Fussell and Erica Muhl.  He has created music for concerts, film and other mediums, but Wintory has been dubbed “Gaming’s Eclectic Outspoken Maestro” by Game Informer Magazine.  Some of his works include the musical scores for Journey, The Banner Saga, Assassin's Creed Syndicate, Grace and The Rendezvous.

                When I first listened to the Tooth and Tail Soundtrack, I found myself smiling and wondering if Tooth and Tail were a video game about pirates.  There was a definite “Yo ho ho” sort of feel to the music, with singing and a swashbuckling sort of feel to the music.  Some of the music has a Spanish flare, featuring trumpets, castanets, acoustic guitars, violins and an off-key piano or harpsichord.  According to the composer, each of the four fighting factions have their own recurring theme: “Each faction became this sort of quasi-nationalistic sound; a brassy quasi-Bavarian waltz for the militaristic character, an orchestral Italian wedding tarantella for the aristocrats, a strange 'liturgical tango' for the Longcoats, and a semi-Bulgarian folk dance for the Commonfolk. I can honestly say I’ve never attempted a score quite like this.”

                The score is mainly fast-paced, with that action flare befitting a score for a video game of this nature.  As we get to the later tracks of the album, the music becomes more serious…more dramatic.  While The Food of Beasts is light and fun, The Ivories of Beasts is a more solemn piece performed on solo piano.  To the Ends has a more modern feel thanks to the synth-sound.  Victors Will Feast is a much darker version of The Food of Beasts complete with heavier percussion. 

                Tooth and Tail has already been released in CD format with an expected LP release in December of 2017.  Any fan of the video game will definitely want to get their hands on this album, but I would also recommend it to anyone who has a particular love of Bulgarian or Bavarian folk style or just a love of pirate movie music in general.  I had a great deal of fun listening to Tooth and Tail and I have no doubt that others will find the music just as entertaining as I did.


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