Artist: Ramin Djawadi
Title: Game Of Thrones, Season 3 Soundtrack
Genre: DAH duh, duh-duh-DAH duh, duh-duh-DAH duh
He's not as big a name as Hans Zimmer or John Williams or the various Newmans out there, but Ramin Djawadi is easily the most interesting composer working in television right now (with due respect to Bear McCreary). Soundtracks, especially television soundtracks because they're produced so quickly, have a tendency to serve more as a wall of atmosphere than anything else. But Djawadi's work here and on Westworld has generated some amazing musical themes. There's a strong undercurrent of leitmotif informing the way the music flows together and the themes those motifs are built around are damned catchy--which you know if you got the joke in the genre description above.
While all of the soundtracks for GoT are very listenable, this is my favorite. It has A Lannister Always Pays His Debts, which is probably the best extant version of the Lannister House theme Rains of Castamere. Chaos Is A Ladder is the "intrigue" theme for the show. You Know Nothing is a gorgeous love theme. Mhysa is a triumphal--and seriously great--version of the Daenarys theme that morphs into the main theme of the show. The main theme also gets a lighter treatment in Dark Wings Dark Words, a dark thrum in White Walkers, and a beautiful finger-style guitar arrangement of it closes out the album called For The Realm.
The two guest songs on here aren't that interesting, The Bear And The Maiden Fair by The Hold Steady and Kerry Ingram singing It's Always Summer Under The Sea (Shereen's Song). And while strains of them pop up, this album doesn't have a good version of the Stark, Greyjoy, or Baratheon themes, if those are more your jam.
Further Listening: Seasons 1, 2, and 6 are also excellent, but for very different reasons. 2 has The National's rendition of Rains Of Castamere and Winterfell, the second half of which is the best version of the Stark theme. 1 has the definitive version of the Baratheon theme in The King's Arrival. 6 has the nearly 10-minute epic Light Of The Seven that plays during the big event that season at the Sept of Baelor. 4 is a bit of a jumble, but it includes Two Swords, which plays under the Season 4 cold open: where the sword Ice is being melted and reforged into the swords Oathkeeper and Widow's Wail. The song starts with the Stark theme, but deconstructs and morphs it into the Lannister theme as the scene plays out. It's really, expertly crafted.