The Dark Knight Rises, by Hans Zimmer

The Dark Knight Rises, by Hans Zimmer, free streaming via AOL Music today, 7/17/2012

Hear the brooding score from the upcoming conclusion to Chris Nolan’s Batman trilogy.

Surely this album will be better than the Zimmer-Howard tag team effort of The Dark Knight, right?

This Zimmer-solo effort carries a lot of the tones and themes from the first two scores over quite nicely. Is it as good as the legendary Batman Begins score?

The first song, A Storm is Coming, carries the basic Batman theme from Batman Begins. It is quite noticeable, and it ties the score in with its predecessors very well.

Then it transitions to On Thin Ice. It is a dark and eerie sounding song.

Things pick up in Gothams Reckoning, the album’s most popular iTunes Store track, carrying with it a kind of irksome sound like that of Why So Serious, but not nearly to the same degree. Still, it is dark, only to be cut by some sort of percussion snare accents. Seventy-five percent of the way through, it really crescendos and drives. There’s nothing particularly gripping here, however, as it does lack the capacity to captivate its audience.

The fourth song, Mind if I Cut in, does utilize stringed instruments to draw in the listener. Tempered with some sort of bell or chime with the piano, this song is rather nice yet ominous. It is completely unique and unlike any of the tracks from the previous albums.

Underground Army sounds just like something from the previous album, but it feels new.

Born in Darkness carries the feel from the Batman Begins score, but now a bit more open in some regards. Ultimately, it’s too open and yields itself empty.

The score really picks up in The Fire Rises. It is a turbulent track filled with sixteenth notes, and it is very entertaining. I love how it carries some of the previous album’s themes but works it into this turbulent roller coaster. But then, suddenly, out of nowhere, it decrescendos like it’s nobodies business, and it becomes dreary though familiar. The last 25% picks up turbulence again, so this song is very dynamic. It’s a great song.

Nothing Out There comes in sounding like it’s going to be an awesome track with some strings, and then it takes an odd turn before arriving at the familiar and beloved piano trail introduced in Batman Begins. The odd turn nearly ruins the whole track if it were not for the Batman Begins influence that washes it clean.

Now, Despair contains a familiar Batman theme from the first film with a nice set of strings and horn combination. It masterfully works in the turbulent themes of this new film. And then that pesky and irksome “Why so Serious?” influenced sound comes in, which is annoying. But the song finishes well, utilizing other good themes from the previous two albums.

There may not be a more turbulent track on the album than Fear Will Find You. It still incorporates previous themes, but it works them really well with the current feel of the new film.

Why Do We Fall? This title comes straight from Batman Begins, bringing the trilogy full circle and to a fitting close. The track, however, lacks the piano trail associated with this scene from what I remember, which was utilized earlier in this score, and I would have appreciated it here.

Death By Exile was, I’m sorry, brief and forgettable.

Imagine the Fire was, in stark contrast, original and memorable. I love the strings in contrast with the percussion amidst the familiar themes. Exceptional track. That is until it incorporates some of the themes from Pirates of the Caribbean in slightly different rhythmic form. Yuck. Oh, Hans Zimmer, why must you recycle your works so? Well, once the song gets passed the Pirates theme, it crescendo’s really nicely.

The regular album ends with Rise, the second most popular track on the iTunes Store. At 7 minutes 15 seconds long, it seeks to combine the beloved themes from all three albums. It does a decent job, but it spends too much time bringing out the themes from The Dark Knight, which tended to drag out.

I think AOL’s description of this album is quite apt: “Hear the brooding score . . .” (emphasis mine). It’s certainly not better than Batman Begins, but it is a far cry better than The Dark Knight. Hans Zimmer did well all by his lonesome here as he worked in themes from the predecessors into this one with fresh ones of his own too. But, ultimately, it carried too many Dark Knight pitfalls, reducing its overall quality and appeal. It didn’t help that Zimmer did as Zimmer does by recycling material from his other scores either. Still, it’s worth a listen in my estimation. Go check it out on AOL Music while it’s still available for free streaming.