Author: Chris Wickham
The Barrens need little introduction for veteran Horde players. They span a large portion of central Kalimdor and the once vast savanna was populated by centaur clans, pockets of pesky quillboars, banal chat-chit, and somewhere, Mankirk's wife. Following the return of Deathwing and the destruction he wrought upon Azeroth, the Barrens were dissected by a searing river of lava known as The Great Divide, and the two halves have been named Northern and Southern Barrens respectively. The Southern Barrens have become one of the major warzones in the escalating conflict between the Alliance and the Horde, unofficially dubbed The Battlescar. The Alliance has gained momentum in the conflict and have established new outposts in Northwatch Hold and Honor’s Stand in attempt to set up a trade route to Theramore Isle. The landscape is tired and ravaged by battle, but the bizarre overgrowth to the north is breathing new life into the war-torn zone.
The Barrens were once one vast region, one of the largest in Azeroth. After the Great Divide, it’s not unreasonable to assume that the two lands may have developed new musical identities. However, the music of both the north and southern regions after the cataclysm is still deeply embedded in its humble roots. The landscape in both halves is bleak, and this perfectly captured through aimless woodwind phrases, underpinned by suspenseful string pedals and foreboding brass pedals. An almost maddening guitar arpeggio relentless repeats in the background; a potent metaphor for the never-ending savannah. A lone trumpet occasional rears its head, distanced expertly from the rest of the ensemble to create the impression of a vast, desolate landscape.
The storied history of this great region is briefly explored by the use of beautiful pan flute phrases - this instrument is often associated with the representation of ancient civilisation and more basic ways of life. The harp and string duet which can also be heard spells the tragedy of the divided region, something akin to a love song of the two halves longing to be whole again. Of course, the Barrens have been ravaged not only by Deathwing’s fury, but also by the escalating conflict between Horde and the Alliance. The thunderous percussion and brass pairing players hear in proximity to The Battlescar can be heard throughout Azeroth, and acts as a call to arms for both factions to continue fighting for dominance in this pivotal region.