I discovered this week’s jam when I stumbled upon a remixed Halo 5 trailer. Kendrick Lamar fans, however, may recognize it as the sample used on “The Spiteful Chant.” There’s no chance of hearing Woodkid in the much-anticipated first-person shooter, but “Iron” truly would make a great replacement for the original theme song now lost to the Halo series after Bungie’s departure. After a low string tone sets the scene, wailing horns gently rise and cry out. They snag you and dig into your soul before the drums strike up a martial rhythm. You see, horns are the bacon of music production. Add horns and you’ve got yourself a tastier meal, unless… I really can’t think of anything that’s not better with bacon. In fact, Macklemore owes his career to Ryan Lewis’s love of bacon. The horn arrangement in “Iron” is as epic as any I’ve experienced — the kind you want to hear when charging into battle in slow motion, against Orcs or Nazis or Lannister soldiers. (Or the Covenant for that matter. Anything but the Flood. Please, no more Flood.)
Woodkid’s production is orchestral and vivid — cinematic perhaps — which is fitting considering “Woodkid” is the singer-songwriter alias of French music video director and graphic designer Yoann Lemoine (who does indeed direct Woodkid videos). This is by no means an instance of “dude, we should totally start a band.” Woodkid has a vision. In fact, “Iron” is the penultimate chapter of The Golden Age, a concept album presenting a majestic yet dark journey from adolescence to adulthood. In this climactic clash before the elegiac finale, Woodkid quite poetically (in his charmingly imperfect and heavily French-accented voice) sings of a soldier’s inner turmoil. The epic Golden Age, thus, has more of a haunting tone than a glorious one. It makes me feel pretty glorious though.
“I want people to feel like heroes when they hear my music,” says Woodkid. This string quintet performance of “Iron” is beautiful in its own way, but there’s no substitute for the raw power of horns, for that piercing brass sound that resonates deep within you. Now don’t you feel like doing something valiant?