Rating: 5/5 Stars
The fifth volume of the Metropolis series marks the final reel of a cinematic odyssey inspired by Fritz Lang’s monumental 1927 sci‑fi drama. Designed for large‑scale, broad‑brushstroke orchestral work, previous titles served up powerful outsize sections, blended woodwind and brass ensembles, battering trailer drums, choirs, pianos and a host of extras (you can read the in‑depth reviews on the SOS website).
MA5 (80GB installed) seals the legacy with a similar instrumentation, this time with the accent on musical functionality. Once again large orchestral sections are augmented by a mixed choir, but in an unexpected twist the library also includes analogue and modular synths, among them a Minimoog and Moog Subsequent 37. These electronic marvels were run through speakers and recorded in Berlin’s reverberant Teldex Scoring Stage from Orchestral Tools’ standard mic positions, imbuing their patches with a hybrid quasi‑orchestral flavour.
A major selling point is the 30‑piece string orchestra’s magnificent full‑range ‘shorts master’ patch, incorporating eight dynamic layers ranging from light, feathery strokes to fierce staccato slashes. OT also sampled a string quartet performing the same style, an ultra‑dynamic, nimble and precise rhythmic timbre which sounds great layered with the large section. Excellent legato ‘playable runs’ short‑note patches add expression and realism to these spiccatos.
For lush symphonic pads and emotive swells, you can take your pick from massed violins and violas, a sumptuous blend of horns, woodwinds and violas and a fabulous line‑up of 12 cellos, 12 double basses and low woodwinds. Other standout textures include a beautifully soft‑toned flugelhorn quartet and a mellow low brass section featuring euphoniums and Wagner tubas. For lead lines you can dial up four bright‑toned trumpets blasting out marcato fanfares and accents, while a unison blend of horns and cellos are a superb resource for soul‑stirring heroic melodies.
From its first appearance in 2015 the Metropolis series has consistently delivered drama, punch and grandeur.
I enjoyed MA5’s performance samples. Pre‑recorded, tempo‑sync’ed repeated movements between two adjacent chord positions create an instant mobile harmonic backdrop, with the woodwinds’ rendition sounding particularly charming. In these patches, all possible variations of close‑voiced major, minor and open‑fifths‑based chords are mapped across multiple octaves. Lively up and down rips and a large selection of tension‑building glissando effects (including the eerie, eternally ascending ‘Shepard tones’) also generate instant animation. The male and female choirs (12 singers each) gamely perform their own versions of these effects, along with some softly evolving ‘ooh‑ah‑ee’ vowels, which sound lovely on pads and swells.
From its first appearance in 2015 the Metropolis series has consistently delivered drama, punch and grandeur. This final fifth instalment is the cherry on the cake, adding a fresh set of colours and articulations perfectly tailored to the needs of mainstream media and trailer composers. All five Metropolis collections now run on Orchestral Tools’ free Sine Player software, and individual MA5 sections may be purchased for as little as €19.