Years ago, Austin Wintory’s Journey broke new ground for games music, winning a Grammy nomination among a multitude of other awards. With each new body of work Wintory creates, he consistently reinforces the importance of this avenue in music composition and performance. With Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, he has proven once again that he is a master of his craft, and has created an intensely beautiful soundscape for this new installment of the series set in 1800’s London. 

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate OST begins with a somber piano piece called “Bloodlines” that evolves with accompaniment provided by some delightfully dissonant strings, increasing tempo as it establishes a very dark and suspenseful sound.

“London is Waiting” takes a very beautiful and creative direction with strings playing along with a clock tower bell. Then comes the big, expressive percussion that you absolutely should crank your subwoofer to experience.

“The Dance Begins” introduces itself with some brushed percussion, busy violin trills and soft, tuned percussion. It almost takes a waltz-y tone briefly, but quickly switches gears, adding subtle electronics to the mixture.

“Peace and I are Strangers Grown” will absolutely appeal to those who enjoy the similarly peaceful strings of Journey for a brief moment, before the piece pulls back into the same intensity that Wintory has kept the score running on since the first track. 

Pizzicato strings and staccato woodwinds set the mood for “Soothing Syrup” as this intriguing atmosphere continues. I only wish I could nail what instrument is playing those higher notes other than a nylon stringed guitar. Haunting reversed piano tones create a nice and creepy ambience before pure surprise on a timestamp that I won’t share, for the purpose of hearing this contrast when you least expect it. 

When it’s not enough that the soundtrack gives you a wide spectrum of orchestral sounds, you get to experience a darkly comedic, folksy treat in the middle of it all. Australian trio Tripod collaborated with Wintory on these compositions that they refer to as Murder Ballads, starting with “Give Me The Cure”, which is an upbeat number with a wonderfully raspy male vocalist. The lyrics are plenty dark, which make a hilarious juxtaposition as they are performed along with the lighthearted, bouncy accompaniment on piano. “I’d rather be dead than clear in my head!” is one example of the tone of the lyrics, which will keep you entertained by its wit as well as its strong ability to place you in the setting of the game’s characters. 

What you’re going to experience with this soundtrack is some of what has given Austin Wintory a reputation for enhancing the most personal aspects of a game’s story and its characters. Collaborating with Australian folk trio Tripod, virtuoso strings players Tina Guo and Sandy Cameron, with the soulful and operatic vocals of Holly Sedillos, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is absolutely essential listening for those looking for one of the most creative and dynamic game soundtracks available.

It is available for stream or purchase through iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, and Bandcamp.

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