Fifty-five songs long and clocking in at over three hours, The Witcher soundtrack by Sonya Belousova and Giona Ostinelli is an auditory epic, but one which will be immediately familiar to anyone who has played the games. Inspiration definitely seems to have been taken from Marcin Prybylowicz’s work on the CD Projekt Red game series. There’s a distinctly Eastern European flair to it, strongly folk-orientated.
Currently available on your streaming service of choice, there are simply too many tracks here to cover, so instead we’ll pick out the highlights and there are plenty of those. Opening with Track 1 – ‘Geralt of Rivia’, it’s a gorgeous aggressive clash of drums, strings and vocals that’s enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.
Stepping quickly on from that we reach Track 2. The earworm, the meme, the song that has taken the internet by storm – ‘Toss a Coin to your Witcher’ – sung by Jaskier the bard. This song. GODDAMN THIS SONG. It will crawl into your ears and take up residence in your brain and you will never be free of it. Not ever. It doesn’t help that the internet is positively awash with metal covers and alternate versions of it. It’s funny, it’s catchy and it has definitely become the series’ signature song.
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Track 4 – ‘The Time of Axe and Sword is Now’ – is a beautifully mournful little vocal piece which eventually expands into the Geralt theme and then into a triumph of strings and drums before again becoming something darker and more ominous.
Track 7 – ‘Her Sweet Kiss’ – is another Jaskier number with some distinctly worrying lyrics. “It’s always lose-lose”, he warns “The story is this, she’ll destroy with her sweet kiss”. It’s another irritatingly catchy little ditty, even with the dark subject matter, though thankfully not as earworm-worthy as ‘Toss a Coin’. Thank god.
Track 8 – ‘It’s an Ultimatum’ – Is a deliciously discordant cacophony of a track. Everything about it seems slightly out of tune, even the drums if that’s possible. It rises to a peak, and then suddenly fades away into something softer and more ephemeral before the pounding drums and strings make their return.
Track 14 – ‘The Last Rose of Cintra’ – This is another lovely spoken word track, but unlike Jaskier’s songs this one is dark and brooding. It’s very Nick Cave-esque, actually. Very ‘Red Right Hand’. Sadly the soundtrack doesn’t state who the vocalist is for this one, but he’s damn good. We have another throwback here to the time of Axe and Sword, and to the white wolf, which is another of Geralt’s nicknames.
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Track 17 – ‘The Fishmonger’s Daughter’ – Baa! Baa! Yet another irritatingly catchy Jaskier song! He’s a damn good bard, it has to be said, with a knack for writing immediately memorable tunes, so quite why his reputation is so bad is… oh wait. No, he’s also a braggart, an egotist and a womaniser. Nevermind. I think I get it now.
Track 19 – ‘The Man in Black’ – My personal favourite. It’s a fast paced number, gets the blood pumping nicely. Not much to be said, it’s a fairly straightforward piece but I’m a big fan of the ones that get your heart racing and the adrenaline pumping and this is just perfect for that. The sort of epic piece you’d want playing when you’re facing off against a Striga or trying to take down a Kikimora.
Track 25 – ‘Everytime You Leave’ – Another standout track, the melody a callback to ‘Her Sweet Kiss’ but without the vocals this time. It’s a wistful and sad little string piece that lingers in the memory. It’s a nice break from the otherwise somewhat heavier tracks.
Track 28 – ‘Gold Dragons are the Rarest’ – This one is reminiscent of certain tracks from the Terminator 2 soundtrack of all things, something about some of the instruments being used. It’s a lovely combination of the bombastic and the thoughtful which certainly fits with the message this particular episode attempted to communicate.
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Track 41 – ‘You’re in Brokilon Forest’ – Is a rather more tribal affair, bringing up comparisons to some of the Riven soundtrack. It’s a nice change of pace from the more martial tracks that surround it.
Track 44 – ‘Blame Destiny’ – This one brings up memories of the Klingon theme from Star Trek, albeit slowed down and distorted, before again morphing into the by-now-familiar Geralt theme
Track 50 – ‘You’ll Have to Fight it Until Dawn’ – Covers Geralt’s encounter with a princess cursed to become a fearsome Striga. It perfectly captures the high stakes and high action of this encounter, with the Witcher pushed to his limits as he tries to not only stay alive, but keep his target engaged without killing it until sunrise.
Other tracks of note include ‘The White Flame has Brought us Together’, ‘I’m the One With the Wishes’ and ‘The Curse of the Black Sun’.
The Witcher soundtrack is a damn good listen in its own right, as well as working perfectly within the TV show. With a second season already commissioned I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what Sonya Belousova and Giona Ostinelli bring us the next time we step into the world of the White Wolf, the Butcher of Blaviken, Geralt of Rivia.