This soundtrack has two problems.
The biggest problem is that nearly all of Howard Shore’s tracks here are repetitions of the melodies and arrangements that are present in the soundtracks of the previous two movies. The repetitious themes become tedious, not to mention a waste of my money. How many variations of Concerning Hobbits in the soundtrack of the first movie do I need to hear? I can hum the entire thing by now. Wanna hear it?
The best tracks here are pale shadows of the better arrangements of Mr Shore in the past. The evocative and heartbreaking Minas Tirith, for example, is too similar to Isengard Unleashed in the soundtrack of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, only the latter is a much more superior track because it came first. Because every track here is a variation of something from the previous two soundtracks, there is no surprise, no joy of discovering a magical moment of music to accompany the movie, and no value for money. Annie Lennox’s performance of the closing credit track, Into the West, is laughably bad and is nothing compared to the startling and chilling Gollum’s Song in the soundtrack of the previous movie.
The sole exception is the too-short song by Billy Boyd in The Steward of Gondor. That one, however, can be easily downloaded online without having to pay for the entire CD. In a time when the recording industry is trying to justify why people should pay good money for an entire CD, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King boasts lazy recycling of the materials from the two previous soundtracks without introducing any innovative changes, so that it stands out like a sore thumb as a bad cash-in on fans of the movies.