Hi all, thought I would start an Angels of Death review thread, and the BL forum seems as good as any (especially since it is written by the BL stable). I'll start a Hammer and Bolter one too.
- The Storyforge Team for AoD encompasses Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Nick Kyme, George Mann and Andy Smillie, as well as John French
- The directors are Boman Modine and Richard Boylan
- Soundtrack by Jonathan Hartmann
- Cast (Listed on Lexicanum):
- Toby Longworth
- Andrew Wincott
- Emma Gregory
- Gareth Armstrong
- Richard Reed
- Penelope Rawlins
- Jonathan Keeble
- Steve Conlin
- John Banks
- Colleen Prendergast
- Matthew Hunt
I just watched the first episode; I loved the theatrical nature of it, I have to say. It looked beautiful too.
Overall a quiet, intense opening. More thoughts to come.
Some useful info from past WHC articles:
Writing and Direction: Breaking the Series
A few months back, we announced an exciting collaboration to create a new animated series for Warhammer 40,000 called Angels of Death. Well, since then, scriveners and animators have been merrily conspiring behind the scenes.
Today, we’ve got big news for everyone following the show’s development. Last week witnessed the first script readthrough session. The Warhammer Storyforge team responsible for writing the scripts (Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Nick Kyme, George Mann and Andy Smillie) were joined by director Boman Modine and others from around Games Workshop headquarters for an afternoon of Blood Angels, donuts and serious discussion as they refined and polished the scripts.
“I like my donuts to be this big, and this is how I eat them.”
Coffee and donuts… The engines of creativity!
A crude Baalite insult, the meaning of which we can’t reveal here.
As you can see from the pictures, the meet was a lot of fun, and many topics were covered, including the nature of void-warfare in the Dark Millennium, the hierarchy of a battle-worn detachment’s officers, Baalite accents and whether filled or plain donuts are best.
Of course, the content of the scripts remains a closely guarded secret, for now, but we can promise you ship-to-ship battles, a drop pod assault and an appearance from a very special, and dangerous, member of the Blood Angels Chapter… and that’s all in the first five episodes!
The finalised scripts, before their redaction (read as: shredding) at the hands of the Inquisition.
The characters - probably the most useful for us getting to know these burly bloody folk
Angels of Death is one of many exciting animated projects coming soon to Warhammer+. The show follows a force of Blood Angels as they hack their way through an incursion of Genestealer Cultists. The odds are bleak, and with every frenzied kill chipping away at our heroes’ sanity, they’ve more than just the enemy without to contend with.
Among other characters, the squad includes a staunch and dutiful Sergeant, a Deathwatch Veteran dealing with some serious Black Rage issues, and a Techmarine who can throw down some mean lines of poetry. Let’s get to know them better.
A Sergeant of the Blood Angels and experienced leader, Ancaeus is devoted to his duty and holds his obligations to his Chapter, his battle-brothers, and the Imperium of Man higher than any amount of personal glory. Once considered a candidate for the Sanguinary Cult – the Blood Angels’ own interpretation of a Chapter’s Apothecarion – he believes individual honour is secondary to the safety of his men and mission, and this brings him into conflict with his formerly close friend Kazarion.
One of the show’s writers, George Mann, explains why Ancaeus is such an important member of the squad.
“Ancaeus is the key to unlocking the whole show. He’s perhaps the character who most typifies the Blood Angels, but not in the most obvious of ways. He’s not struggling, like Kazarion, with the Black Rage. He’s not pious like Rafael. But he’s encoded with a deep melancholy that, for me, seems to encapsulate the truest nature of the Blood Angels.
“He’s a character who harbours a sense of resignation that his life has not turned out the way he planned. He wished to be an Apothecary, caring for the gene-seed of his brothers, but instead came to understand that he was needed elsewhere – his calling was on the front line. He knows he has done the right thing for his Chapter and his brothers, but he carries with him this sense of loss. I found that fascinating to write about, a dimension that we don’t often explore in Space Marines.”
Sergeant Kazarion has recently returned from a long service in the Deathwatch – an elite group of hand-picked Space Marines dedicated to fighting xenos threats. Struggling to reconcile the Deathwatch’s unorthodox ways with the traditions of his Chapter, Kazarion fights to contain the Black Rage creeping through his mind.
Secondment to the Deathwatch is a great honour in many Chapters, but Kazarion resented the time he spent away from his fellow Blood Angels. Companionship and brotherhood are important weapons against the threat of the Black Rage, and being separated from his comrades for so long brought him perilously close to his Chapter’s ancestral curse…
Kazarion gives us a fascinating insight into the fallibility of the Blood Angels Chapter, and he proved to be a particularly captivating hero to explore for show writer Andy Smillie. “For me, the Black Rage is one of the most interesting aspects of the Blood Angels,” he says. “It’s an ever-present shadow that weighs on every decision they make. It’s this ‘heroes stood on the edge of madness’ that makes them such compelling characters to write.”
“With Kazarion, we had a great opportunity to explore this awful curse and its impact on the Blood Angels. For the first time, we were able to play with more than just the storytelling aspect of the curse, realising it through powerful visuals and a shifting soundscape. The creatives behind the show did a great job of bringing the Black Rage to life.”
The spiritual leader to his brothers and a voice of balance among the Blood Angels, Chaplain Rafael has his work cut out for him keeping the clashing characters aboard the strike cruiser Sword of Baal in line. While all Chaplains are charged with maintaining the spiritual purity of their fellow Space Marines, as a Blood Angel, Rafael is also responsible for easing the fury within and ensuring the squad do not succumb to the Black Rage.
It is by his will alone that his brothers remain in cohesion after the disaster of their exit from the Cicatrix Maledictum, and his words of inspiration are often the only source of comfort for the Blood Angels during the direst of circumstances.
Writer John French tells us that Rafael’s resolve stems from a long, harrowing life of service. “Rafael is an old warrior. He has seen it all. He has fought wars, seen brothers die, tasted victory and defeat, and turned all that experience into wisdom. Everything he has done and seen has given him balance. He is a mentor and a teacher who wants to bring that balance to the Blood Angels whose spiritual well-being is his responsibility. That makes him fascinating because he is the character that the other Blood Angels characters pivot around – his presence is the rock that gives them strength and unity.”
As the squad’s Techmarine and a devoted adherent to both the Blood Angels creed and the teachings of Mars, Hadrael harbours a burning reverence for machine and Space Marine alike. He is loyal and efficient, much like the machine spirits he entreats with, and when push comes to shove he’s a fearsome warrior in his own right. Unbeknownst to many, he was an adept poet with a distinct artistic flourish before his journey to Mars for his Techmarine training.
When disaster strikes, Hadrael is the only Blood Angel aboard the Sword of Baal. Faced with a ruinous insurrection that threatens to disrupt critical repairs to the dropship needed to retrieve his battle-brothers, Hadrael is forced to turn to an ancient ally for aid…
During the writing process, Hadrael quickly became one of John French’s favourite characters. “I have always had a soft spot for Hadrael because he emerged from the story as we were building it,” he says. “Originally there was not a Techmarine as part of the principal cast, but we realised we needed someone who was responsible for the functioning of the ship and the wargear. So we created Hadrael, and he just came alive.
“He is interesting because he is both a Space Marine and a member of the Cult of Mars, devoted to his brothers and the machines he maintains. That is one of the things that makes him intriguing; he actually cares. He is not just a function or a creature of logic, but a builder and maintainer.”
Not a member of the Adeptus Astartes but nonetheless valued by the Space Marines aboard her ship, Livia is the human Captain of the Sword of Baal and is brutally efficient in her command. She was at the helm of an entire fleet before the Cicatrix Maledictum tore through the universe. A hellish journey through the warp left only the Sword of Baal intact, and Livia bears the weight of those lost souls heavily.
Her level head in a crisis and willingness to take matters into her own hands have earned her the respect of all the Blood Angels, from Captain Orpheo to Techmarine Hadrael. Despite being ‘only’ human, she speaks with just as much authority as the Space Marines and is not afraid to get her hands dirty when a threat to the ship arises with the Blood Angels gone.
Andy Smillie explains how Livia works as a foil to the Astartes of Angels of Death. “Livia’s a great character. We knew she had to stand next to a cast of Space Marines and hold her own. She needed to be in command of her vessel and by virtue of that, the lives of the Space Marines themselves. She embodies duty, sacrifice, and courage against a universe gone mad. She’s a force on screen and, of all the characters, is perhaps the least flawed. There’s a real strength to her that even the Space Marines are lacking. And she’s definitely got some of the best lines in the show!”
As a Captain of the Blood Angels and commander of the Space Marines aboard the Sword of Baal, Orpheo is a veteran of many wars and commands the total respect of his Battle Brothers. When the ship is stranded above Niades by their exit from the warp, the crew receive a transmission of such uncommonly high priority that Captain Orpheo resolves to investigate personally.
Despite the danger involved, Orpheo leaves the rest of his Space Marines behind due to the low numbers that survived the journey through the warp. After being set upon by the Genestealer Cults, Orpheo’s disappearance prompts the Angels of Death to descend from their ship to pierce the mystery of the planet’s eerie silence.
Of our brave Captain, Andy had this to say, “Orpheo is the embodiment of Baal, equal parts fury and nobility, as old and as venerable as the suit of Terminator armour he wears in battle. For the story to work, he needed to be the best of the bunch in spirit, someone they could aspire to. But we didn’t want to make him indomitable – he’d have been two dimensional. There needed to be a frailty to him, and he needed to show real courage in the face of certain defeat.”
The Soundtrack by Jon Hartmann
An animated series is the sum of several parts, and Angels of Death is no exception. The forthcoming Warhammer 40,000 series is a joint effort between the talented scriptwriters of the Warhammer Storyforge, animators, actors and more – the music, for example, is a vital part of setting the tone for the series. For this, we turned to Emmy-nominated composer and long-time Warhammer fan Jonathan Hartman to create a score. You may have already heard some of John’s work in the incredible Warhammer ident – if not, you should have a listen.
We loved the music Jonathan composed. It’s redolent of the grim, dark, powerful atmosphere of Warhammer 40,000 and stunningly evokes this slice of the 41st Millennium envisaged by the Storyforge team in audible form. So, we’re naturally delighted that it’s being released as an album, which you can download right now in the Black Library Audio app or on iTunes. Have a listen to a sample.
Warhammer 40,000: Angels of Death – The Original Score is a 39-minute feast of orchestral music that captures the gothic feel of the 41st Millennium. Want the full track listing? Oh, alright then. Just for you. Beware of spoilers in the track titles…
Not only is this the perfect soundtrack to the series, but also to your games of Warhammer 40,000 – just imagine the thrill as the music kicks into high gear right as you make that game-winning roll! It’s also ideal for putting on in the background while you paint – especially if you’re painting Blood Angels or Tyranids – or just having on while you work from home. Remember to turn it down before those video conferences though. Or up, if you want to treat your colleagues to some epic 40K music!
We asked Jonathan how he went about bringing music to a series about grim, post-human warriors, while giving it that quintessential Warhammer 40,000 flavour, and he gave us some insights.
Jonathan: Composing the original score for Angels of Death was the first time my personal hobby and professional career overlapped. This has been creatively inspiring, fulfilling, and surprising.
Did this score need to represent all Space Marines, all of Warhammer 40,000? Early on I realised that was too large a task, and the focus had to be on this story and these characters, so carefully crafted by the Warhammer Storyforge team. Part of it still has an epic quality, a sense of massive scale, created by an orchestra and full choir, with all the expected Gothic elements. There’s also a sense that the Imperium would have a lot of electronic sounds built into it as a culture, like vox-casters piping out music from cherubs and massive public broadcast speakers throughout a hive. This half of the sound was crafted by a deep dive into analogue synthesisers. We started with these sensibilities, and it seemed to work really well against the visuals.
Another part of my approach has been to treat the Warhammer setting as if it’s real – more like I’m scoring a historical event, something with real stakes and gravitas. How would you score the fall of Rome? Or the Moon landing? Or when Horus betrays the Emperor? Somehow when I ask myself these types of creative questions, I’m able to get to the sound faster, to get to the way this music should feel.
That’s the most important thing about music and storytelling – that it makes you feel something. As a lifelong fan of Warhammer, I hope that all of the fans in our hobby feel as excited about the new media as we do making it.
You can hear more from Jonathan in this week’s Warhammer Community podcast, which you can watch now, or download on your usual podcast app. To get an idea of what he’s talking about, check out this preview.
Music To Die For
One of the most engaging things about Angels of Death is undoubtedly the score. It’s a soundtrack filled with as much grandeur and pathos as the 41st Millennium demands, with a heavy injection of the haunting tragedy reminiscent of the Blood Angels themselves.
Composer Jon Hartman tells us about the secret to capturing the essence of the Blood Angels in the Angels of Death soundtrack (which you can pick up on iTunes and the Black Library Audio App). “Some of the main challenges in depicting the Blood Angels included adding the right amount of gothic reverence and musical hints at their ritualistic nature.
“We also had to strike the knife’s edge balance of venerating the Blood Angels’ past and embracing the loss of their Primarch, while also knowing that they may be lost to that memory. When scoring Angels of Death, I composed a number of musical pieces that included massive choir at the height of action sequences, implying that the borderline rage is always present.”
When in doubt, deploy a massive choir to bring a sense of awe and wrath to proceedings. The score provides a suitably epic soundscape for the struggles of Ancaeus and his fellow battle-brothers and fits perfectly with the Blood Angels’ battle cries and the roar of bolter fire.
Edited by Petitioner's City, 25 August 2021 - 01:55 PM.