‘Two Steps from Hell’-more like two steps from heaven I’d say. Cause heaven is exactly what this beauty is. This American music production company (I just prefer to call it a band really) is, to my thinking, truly the closest you can get to musical heaven. And the best part-its founders Nick Phoenix and Thomas J. Bergersen take you there with just music. You heard me right folks. Their compositions are almost entirely orchestral, yet they possess the power to quite literally stir the soul, as should all good music according to me. In an age of Nicky Minajs and Justin Biebers, TSFH remains refreshingly true to the real heart of music, and literally as well as metaphorically strikes all the right chords.
I stumbled upon this masterpiece of a band quite by accident. I shudder to think of the gaping hole that would have remained in my musical repertoire had I not done so. I was checking out the new trailer of Eclipse- Yes, I grudgingly admit to being a Twihard once upon a time- when its background music really caught my attention. It had mystery shrouded in it, a tone of urgency and a feeling of building up to something. The small minute-long piece kept playing in my mind until I finally Googled it. That was when I discovered it was a piece by some band known as Two Steps from Hell. I thought,” What a weird name for a band! Any connection to ‘Highway to Hell’ perchance?”. Well, I definitely found no connection, instead coming upon the most astoundingly rich music I had ever had the fortune to listen to.
A little more research surprisingly showed that TSFH have composed the trailer music as well as the soundtracks for some of the most loved movies of all times. The list would shock you. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Dark Knight, The Fighter, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, 2012, Captain America: The First Avenger, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Inception, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1”, Prince of Persia and so on and so forth. The list just goes on and on. I can safely say that most of you have quite a few favourites present in the above list. And any true fan would agree that no scene in any of these movies would be the same or would have the same impact, without its legendary music.
And legendary it is. Quite literally so. Most of their compositions are classified under the genre of ‘Epic/ Legendary music’. Forget classified- they are the very embodiment of Epic music. It’s the kind of music to which battles are fought, wars are waged, honours are avenged, and victories are won. For those who are wondering what I mean, just listen to the track ‘Heart of Courage’ from the album ‘Invincible’. It’s a personal favourite of mine, an absolute all-time classic. No matter how many times I listen to it, I never get tired of it, as I do with most other songs. Never mind that it doesn’t have any lyrics at all. The music is enough to hit you and really blow you away. The way the tempo rises and falls is simply awe-inspiring. It starts out slow, then gradually gathers force, like a brewing storm, before finally breaking free in a simply mind-blowing, intense finish. Really, I don’t have enough words to describe what this track does to me. I think after Linkin Park’s ‘Numb’, this is the next song which does justice to the phrase ‘raises goosebumps’.
Yet, this is not my absolute number one track. Yes, that place of honour is reserved for the track ‘Blackheart’ from the album ‘SkyWorld’. Another musical magnum opus, this song is a touch different from their other tracks. To my untrained ears at least, the song seems more rooted in classical music having liberal use of the violin and cello. While, their other tracks often remind you of Hans Zimmer’s compositions, this score is more in the tune of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Again, its profound impact is unparalleled. The violins often remind me of several pieces from James Horner’s soundtrack for ‘Titanic’. I won’t go into any more rhapsodic descriptions here. You only have to listen to it to get caught in its spell.
Some other TSFH tracks that I adore are ‘Archangel’, ’ Protectors of the Earth’, ‘To Glory’, ‘Freedom Fighters’, ‘Exodus’, ‘Winterspell’, ‘Nemesis’, ‘Strength of a thousand men’, and ‘El Dorado’. There are several more, but if I write anymore, I’ll simply keep going on and on. I think the best part of these songs is that, not only do they compliment movies and trailers so perfectly, but also they are appropriate for avid music listening. If you need to study, you can simply put them on in the background. The lack of lyrics and the changing tempo helps maintain concentration. On the other hand, if you want to do some serious music listening, just music and music only, then too, TSFH comes to the rescue. Just plug in your earphones, raise the volume and get lost in the acoustics, feeling each beat reverberate through your very soul.
TSFH has most certainly left its indelible stamp on innumerable movies, television series and even videogames and quite firmly established a connection with all its avid fans, including myself. The rousing, inspirational tone of their score is haunting and leaves quite an impression on the listeners. You’ll find yourself coming back to TSFH again and again, and trust me, they’ll never leave you disappointed. To conclude, I’ll quote the TSFH tagline- “Music makes you braver”. TSFH music surely does.
P.S. I am listening to TSFH while writing this article.