Author: Chris Wickham
This vast wasteland is located on the southwestern coast of Pandaria and surrounds a giant mantid hive. The Dread Wastes were once thought to be a great forest, but what few trees remain now house festering hives for the insectoids. The malevolent influence of the Sha is perhaps most prevalent here; the atmosphere here is fetid and the land is tainted, with stagnant swamps and malformed vegetation scattered throughout.
The iconic Chinese instrumentation synonymous with Pandaria is noticeably absent here and the soundscape for this treacherous region is largely stagnant like the squalid marches that populate it. Overlapping pedal notes are the primary driving force of the cues and plummet to the lowest depths of the string and brass families, creating a viscous texture of sound. Players are even treated the earthy pits of the bass clarinet, which pierces through with a vile malice. The pedals are interspersed with brief melodic fragments from an ethereal choir, lamenting strings and growling brass crescendos. Chattering string harmonics and trembling tremolos expertly capture the buzzing mantid throughout the early cues, but are most prominent at 6.23 where they are joined by a plethora of chattering woodwind fragments.
A new idea is introduced at 6.48 which is explored throughout the latter cues in varying orchestrations. Staccato string stabs accent a percussive tapestry of taiko drums and stick clicks, while strings and brass wail over the top tumultuously. The arrangements grow in intensity, incorporating more discordant harmonies and building suitable tension as players tread lightly in the face of the dangers the wastes offer.
The final cues, heard from 10.50, employ piercing discordant high strings. They begin by aimlessly rising and falling chromatically into brief moments of tonality, before settle into a concordant melancholy. Lamenting ‘cellos and violas mourn the loss of this once beautiful land to the negative energy of the Sha.