Author: Lucinda Batchelor
Burning Steppes is a charred volcanic wasteland situated to the north of the prosperous human kingdom of Stormwind. This land has only one passageway from the Stormwind to Khaz Modan and the remnants of Lordaeron and is therefore in regular use, however very dangerous. The land was cast aside by the Kingdom of Stormwind during the First War when it was controlled by the Blackrock clan. This region is made up of rough foothills; dusty cracked earth filled with lava and charred ruins. The sky remains red through the volcanic eruptions from Blackrock Mountain. The orc stronghold from the Second War, Blackrock Spire is visible from the mountains. In this place Black Dragons and Twilight's Hammer stay among the upper levels of the spire whilst the Dark Iron dwarves lodge in the lower. The encompassing surroundings is where Blackrock Orcs and Fire-Gut ogres reside.
Burning Steppes music opens with low brass and strings that rise into the upper registers, which build a sense of foreboding but also wonder through the use of intermittent harp arpeggios. A male voice choir later transforms this impression of foreboding to definite danger. This arrangement of dark timbres, especially the use of chanting male voices, is heard throughout and creates an overwhelming sense of a dark and war-orientated place, which is not surprising given the region's ravaged history. However, the main recurring motif throughout Burning Steppes is a repeated staccato low string idea which is quite mechanical in performance. As this idea gains prominence, the texture of the piece quickly begins to thicken with countermelodies, starting with low brass and metallic percussion and later the higher registers of the strings and woodwinds. The urgency in the music creates tension, and the orchestra gets louder and higher producing an overwhelming feeling of threat. All of the supporting countermelodies are repeated with a similar persistent mechanical nature and create an impression of a relentless war machine. Despite the prominence of these unwelcoming timbres and textures, the music of Burning Steppes has a latent feeling of sorrow and vulnerability created by the use of lone instrumental lines from high strings and woodwind.