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The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Album Cover Art
2002 Regular
2002 Limited
Album 2 Cover Art
2002 Limited Internet
Album 3 Cover Art
2003 Trilogy
Album 4 Cover Art
2006 Complete
Album 5 Cover Art
2010 Rarities Archive
Album 6 Cover Art
2018 Complete Re-Issue
Album 7 Cover Art
Composed, Orchestrated, Conducted, and Produced by:

Vocals Produced by:
Paul Broucek

Performed by:
The London Philharmonic Orchestra

The London Voices

The London Oratory School Schola

Solo Vocals by:
Emilia Torrini
Elizabeth Fraser
Isabel Bayrakdarian
Sheila Chandra
Ben del Maestro

Choral Text by:
J.R.R. Tolkien
Philippa Boyens
Fran Walsh
Labels Icon
Reprise Records
(Original and Limited)
(December 10th, 2002)

Reprise Records
(Trilogy Set)
(December 9th, 2003)

Reprise Records
(Complete Set)
(November 7th, 2006)

Howe Records
(Rarities Archive)
(October 5th, 2010)

Rhino/Reprise Records
(Re-issue Set)
(July 27th, 2018)
Availability Icon
The regular 2002 album originally priced between $15 to $17 in the stores is the regular U.S. release. The 2002 limited release is indicated by a higher price and a sticker indicating its "limited" nature on the front plastic. The musical contents are the same on all the 2002 products except for the inclusion of one bonus track on the limited editions. The value of the different cover inserts (on the trading block) is yet to be determined. They could very well end up useless unless you acquire a whole set of 5 covers.

The 2003 trilogy set is essentially the original three albums from the films combined into one package (with no extra music). The 2006 set includes the complete recordings, priced initially for between $55 and $65 (the list retail price for this set is $15 higher than the complete set of the first score in 2005), and features the DVD with 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound along with three CDs that offer 188 minutes from the score in 16-bit stereo sound. Other higher resolution variants on sound quality exist on the DVD. (See review for details.)

The 2010 Howe Records album called "The Rarities Archive" was only available in the back cover of the Doug Adams book The Music of The Lord of the Rings Films: A Comprehensive Account of Howard Shore's Scores. That book had an MSRP of $60 but initially sold new for under $40.

The 2018 complete set is a re-issue of the 2006 product but with a Blu-ray disc rather than a DVD for the surround sound option. It debuted for $80 but went out of print after about a year, escalating in price to $350 or more.
Winner of a Grammy Award.
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2006/2018 Complete Set Review | 2010 Book/Rarities Archive Review
Buy it... on the 2006 or 2018 complete sets if you seek one of the best scores of the digital age of film music in a DVD-quality presentation that will, if you are properly equipped, stun both you and the people living down the street.

Avoid it... on the 2006 or 2018 complete sets if you do not use a surround sound system for your regular listening enjoyment and would prefer, in terms of content, the 73-minute 2002 album of highlights from the score.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 12/11/02, REVISED 8/30/20
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: (Howard Shore) To the joy of crowds around the world, the 2002 sequel to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring followed its predecessor by only a year, proving that gone were the days of multi-year waits for fans of popular fantasy motion picture franchises. It had then seemed that only yesterday Peter Jackson's incredible The Fellowship of the Ring had taken the world by storm, and yet Jackson and his co-writers and co-producers had already been working on the The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King extensively while the first film's final touches were being applied. Much of the success of the franchise is owed to the significant planning of the three films in the late 1990's, especially in relation to the intelligent adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's extremely long and complex tale. The reasons for the prosperity of The Fellowship of the Ring, both in terms of awards and popular opinion, transcended the usual technical categories of motion picture production, though few can argue that Howard Shore's music had little impact on the film; his music had become the first fantasy epic to win the Academy Award for Best Original Score in years. Because of the rapid rollout of this series of films, Shore was already in the process of writing the music for The Two Towers when he won that award. He had considered the trilogy an ongoing process of four to five years of writing and recording, and much of the material heard first in The Two Towers was already conceived and partially developed before The Fellowship of the Ring was even recorded. Audiences responded overwhelmingly well to the composer's highly intellectual and stunningly diverse approach to the first score, even beyond the expected rush of attention caused by new age sensation Enya's involvement with the project. Shore managed to single-handedly put John Williams' Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone onto a distant back burner, despite the maestro's score serving as the basis for most of the film score hype generated in advance of the 2001 holiday season. In short, Shore had unleashed the first entry in a trilogy of music already destined to be deemed a modern classic. It is recommended, for proper discussion of the background of these scores, that you read the Filmtracks review for The Fellowship of the Ring before proceeding.

As with the expanded edition DVD of The Fellowship of the Ring, collectors had been falling over themselves to obtain more of Shore's music for that film, and luckily for them, the hasty release of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers would at least partially satisfy their needs in the short term. Shore ensured the continuation of his mind-boggling, epic sound by utilizing the London Philharmonic in a massive coliseum and later mixed the sounds of the two different choirs (children's and adult). The scale of the second project is no less diminished, and no better evidence of that successive effort is the replacement of Enya with several operatic voices of similar new age style from around the world for this score. Shore also continued where he left off in the grand scheme of his composition for the franchise. As the broken fellowship's journey into peril continues, and the landscape of Middle-earth descends further into darkness, Shore bolsters his music with an increased size of scope and brazen thematic sweep. As had been promised by those involved with the post-production of the film, the score for The Two Towers is bigger, more diverse, and arguably better than its predecessor. The instrumentation and use of voices is more powerfully expansive than in the previous film, despite the continuation of almost all of the solo elements from that score. Instrumentally, Shore adds the Hardanger, a Norwegian fiddle, to represent Rohan, while the North African rhaita reed instrument accents the Mordor theme and log drums, dilruba, wood xylophones, and the cimbalom for Gollum all provide a rich texture for the score. The heavy emphasis on wood-related instruments for the representation of the Ents is a logical move not overlooked by Shore. Once again, several solo voices are mixed with the two choirs for the score as well, and the tone of each is meant specifically for individual cultures or scenarios. The lowest regions of the strings and brass receive greater roles in this score (great examples exist on the former in "Where is the Horse and the Rider?" and the latter in "Rock and Pool"), serving a cold dose of momentum to the forces of Isengard and Mordor that grow stronger as the story progresses. The heart of The Two Towers is undoubtedly more sinister, but even in these ranks, Shore maintains a sense of harmony that continues to entice the listener.

Shore established in The Two Towers that the original songs heard over the opening of the end credits were specific to each film and not intended to mingle thematically with the other scores. The performance of "Gollum's Song" by Bjork-inspiring and longingly bitter-voiced Emiliana Torrini serves as the closing piece for this feature, and Torrini's voice, as well as the others chosen for performances in the score, are foreign enough in their general tone to color Middle-earth (and even the world of men) with a fantastic edge of mystery and intrigue. With the success of Enya's voice, Shore seemed interested in keeping a vaguely Celtic sound to the vocals, which aided in their smooth listenability. The choirs are again layered elegantly with the orchestra, featuring the very wet, echoing ambient mix that caused detractors of reverberation to denounce the first score as a sonic mess. The use of the vocals to carry the melody of themes in The Two Towers gave those identities far more sweeping performances (of both lofty heights and quiet despair) that occupy several major cues for the film. Especially effective is Shore's technique of mixing the choirs and solo voices in The Two Towers so that they are occasionally indistinguishable, with the solo identity fading in and out to correspond with the action on screen. Technically speaking, this score is, like the others in the franchise, a work of marvel. Where The Two Towers differs from The Fellowship of the Ring most significantly is in its demeanor. Gone are the fluffy whistle performances of the hobbits' material, and the presentations of the fellowship theme, the anchor of the first score, are sparse and less blatantly heroic in most cases. Almost every theme from The Fellowship of the Ring is indeed present in The Two Towers, though the emphasis on each has been both switched and merged. As Middle-earth descends into a war that brings all of its cultures together, the music becomes appropriately muddy in its constructs, whether that entails the overlapping of ideas or the simple, subtle changes of notes within the progressions of a theme. It was noted in The Two Towers that Shore extended Tolkien's fascination with the number nine into his music; many of the themes and motifs exist in multiples of three-note phrases, a creative nod to the author.

Thus, what listeners received in the thematic placements of The Two Towers amounts to a crossover score. Other than a galloping fanfare for Rohan, there is no triumphant introduction for the handful of new themes, and with sparse major statements of previous themes, the score marches to its end with the obvious implication that the musical journey is not over. That said, Shore does offer more than enough blasts of harmony and melody throughout the center of the score to appease the thematically-minded listeners. The new themes introduced for the film are more obscure than some might have expected, due to the interesting fact that their pronouncement isn't as bold in the early portions of the score (and due in part to the necessities of the scripts). To Shore's credit, however, the style of the composer's extremely complicated sense of thematic manipulation (as well as the more obvious minor-major key shifting techniques) that he employed for the previous themes have carried over to the new ones, allowing them to blend into the mix effortlessly for the listener. Whereas The Fellowship of the Ring is a score with extended sequences of quiet harmony and few non-stop series of full ensemble mayhem, The Two Towers is a tumultuous experience by comparison. It dwells in the depths of despair for significant periods early in the score before its final half hour offers redemption in the form of action material that eclipses anything heard in the previous score. Thus, while The Fellowship of the Ring is consequently a more consistent listening experience on album in its full three-hour duration, The Two Towers presents material both weaker and stronger, and is therefore a work that requires attention to some areas more than others. Shore's enhanced role for the choirs is key to defining the highlights of The Two Towers, and moments such as the crescendo of magnificence at the start of "The Last March of the Ents" eclipse anything heard before in the series. With this structure in mind, a quick cue-by-cue analysis will help once again illuminate the score's highlights (as well as thematic references), and the following track titles refer to those found on the superior, complete score offering of The Two Towers in 2006 and, more specifically, the set's 24-bit DVD presentation.

Ratings Icon
Average: 4.31 Stars
***** 16,461 5 Stars
**** 4,524 4 Stars
*** 2,948 3 Stars
** 1,197 2 Stars
* 993 1 Stars
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Read All Start New Thread Search Comments
soundhawk - May 31, 2009, at 8:50 a.m.
1 comment  (2368 views)
i like it
Jimmy345 - May 2, 2007, at 5:52 a.m.
1 comment  (3094 views)
were can i down load the art work?
slinkyelf - March 27, 2007, at 6:17 a.m.
1 comment  (3352 views)
What about Gollum???   Expand >>
roybatty - February 17, 2007, at 6:48 p.m.
2 comments  (5703 views)
Newest: March 25, 2007, at 9:46 a.m. by
Mister Frodo
Link to the Annotated Score by Doug Adams (pdf file)   Expand >>
Christian Kühn - December 3, 2006, at 10:52 p.m.
2 comments  (6398 views)
Newest: December 11, 2006, at 7:42 p.m. by
What else is there to say.It's AWESOME!!!
dts - November 19, 2006, at 8:08 p.m.
1 comment  (2104 views)

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
2002/2003 Regular Albums Tracks   ▼Total Time: 72:46
• 1. Foundations of Stone (3:51)
• 2. The Taming of Smeagol (2:48)
• 3. The Riders of Rohan (4:05)
• 4. The Passage of the Marshes (2:46)
• 5. The Uruk-hai (2:58)
• 6. The King of the Golden Hall (3:49)
• 7. The Black Gate is Closed (3:17)
• 8. Evenstar - performed by Isabel Bayrakdarian (3:15)
• 9. The White Rider (2:28)
• 10. Treebeard (2:43)
• 11. The Leave Taking (3:41)
• 12. Helm's Deep (3:53)
• 13. The Forbidden Pool (5:27)
• 14. Breath of Life - performed by Sheila Chandra (5:07)
• 15. The Hornburg (4:36)
• 16. Forth Earlingas - performed by Ben Del Maestro (3:15)
• 17. Isengard Unleashed - performed by Elizabeth Fraser & Ben Del Maestro (5:01)
• 18. Samwise the Brave (3:46)
• 19. Gollum's Song - performed by Emiliana Torrini (5:51)
2002 Limited Edition Albums Tracks   ▼Total Time: 76:25
2006/2018 Complete Sets Tracks   ▼Total Time: 188:12
2010 Rarities Archive Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 79:13

Notes Icon
The original 2002 (regular) album's insert includes notes from director Peter Jackson and album co-producer Paul Broucek. Also featured are lyrics from each of the ensemble vocal segments from the score, as well as the Gollum song. Once again, a whopping two full pages of credits add to the clutter and no track times are provided on the packaging, adding even this fine point to the expansive woes of the original album.

Various useless goodies add to the cost of the 2002 limited album. The 2003 set includes general notes about the trilogy. The 2006 and 2018 complete sets feature a 45-page booklet with extraordinary notation about the music by Film Score Monthly regular Doug Adams. Those sets include extensive packaging extras, with the three regular audio CDs existing in a smaller case that can be stored separately from the massive book-like exterior.

A detailed, track-by-track analysis (a supplement to the notes on the complete 2006 set) was available in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format for download from Warner Brothers at the following URL: It was not included in the product itself because of cost restrictions due to the booklet size and was available at that location for about five years before being removed.

There exists no actual packaging for the Howe Records album contained within the 2010 Adams book. It is initially difficult to extract the CD from its paper sleeve because they are glued tightly to the inside of the back cover.
Copyright © 2002-2021, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers are Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2006, 2010, 2018, Reprise Records (Original and Limited), Reprise Records (Trilogy Set), Reprise Records (Complete Set), Howe Records (Rarities Archive), Rhino/Reprise Records (Re-issue Set) and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 12/11/02 and last updated 8/30/20.
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