Author: Chris Wickham
The Searing Gorge is a contested volcanic region in the Eastern Kingdoms, home to the Thorium Brotherhood, a renegade faction of Dark Iron dwarves. Before the summoning of Ragnaros, the elemental fire lord, it was once part of the more tranquil Redridge Mountains to the south, along with Burning Steppes. However, the landscape is now populated by charred mountains and chambers of boiling magma. A huge excavation site known as The Caldron dominates the central portion of the area, where mining operations attempt to uncover a wealth of minerals and ore. The infamous Blackrock Mountain, the Horde’s headquarters during the Second War, lies to the south and played host to the pivotal final battle of Warcraft II.
Given its similarly to the neighbouring Burning Steppes, it is no surprise that the two regions share a practically identical soundscape. Low brass and strings rise into the upper registers, building a sense of foreboding but also wonder through the use of intermittent harp arpeggios. A male voice choir later transforms this ensemble, creating a compelling sense of danger. This arrangement of dark timbres, especially the use of chanting male voices, is heard throughout all the variations and creates an overwhelming sense of a dark and war-orientated atmosphere, which is particularly potent given the pivotal conflicts of the Second War that took place within Searing Gorge.
The main recurring motif throughout is a repeated staccato low string idea which is quite mechanical in performance. As this idea gains prominence in subsequent variations, the texture of the rest of the ensemble 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 incredible tension; the orchestra becomes louder and higher over time, producing an overwhelming feeling of threat. Several of the supporting countermelodies are repeated with a similar persistent nature and create an impression of a relentless war machine. These musical ideas rarely resolve and frequently end abruptly, creating a powerful feeling of apprehension in the player. However, despite the prominence of these unwelcoming timbres and textures, the music of Searing Gorge, like Burning Steppes, has a latent feeling of sorrow and vulnerability created by the use of isolated instrumental lines from high strings and woodwind.