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.


Halo 4 Music

Halo 4 Music

Neil Davidge is composing this next installment in the Halo Saga. He has worked on Unleashed, I am Legend, Blade 2, The Jackal, Clash of the Titans, CSI, House, West Wing, and more. He has been a Halo fan since it was originally released in 2001.

I’m excited, unlike Kotaku’s Kirk Hamilton. I wasn’t really a big fan of O’Donnell’s work on Halo: CE, 2, 3, ODST, or Reach, so it will be interesting to see what Davidge brings to the table.

Transformers 3 (Original Motion Picture Score)

Transformers: Dark of the Moon > Original Motion Picture Score, by Steve Jablonsky, on iTunes

The first Transformers score (Transformers) was and will continue to be one of the best scores ever made. It remains the standard by which I judge all others. How will Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Transformers 3) compare?

Steve Jablonsky fell short in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Transformers 2; no pun intended) as he did with others, such as Gears of War 2. Transformers 2 lacked emotion, and it had anticlimactic buildups, which were most annoying. Does Transformers 3 fare any better?

Yes, it does. Not only does it blend the best of Transformers and Transformers 2 along with its own distinctiveness, such as, for example, There Is No Plan, which blends Arrival to Earth and Bumblebee from Transformers, but the score has also been infused with dramatic emotions, dynamic dualistic dark and light themes, and raw suspense. It is everything that an action movie score should be, especially in the wake of 2 preceding scores.

This score is definitely better than Transformers 2, which was such a let down. Whether it beats Transformers, only time will tell.

Currently, two songs, Battle and It’s Our Fight, have the most popularity in the score. There Is No Plan is the next most popular followed by Our Final Hope. Personally, I like the following songs:

  • Sentinel Prime
  • There is No Plan
  • The Fight Will Be Your Own
  • No Prisoners, Only Trophies
  • It’s Our Fight
  • I Promise.

What do you think about Jablonsky’s score for Transformers 3? How about you, Erik?

Thor (Original Motion Picture Score)

Thor by Patrick Doyle on iTunes

Patrick Doyle has done music for Harry Potter, Sense and Sensibility, Eragon, and others, but his latest work is Thor. As far as his latest work is concerned, it’s rather boring. Currently, Sons of Odin is the most popular track on the album. It is playful, but dull. The rest of the album, though not popular, is completely lacking, for there is an absence of energy, the album is scarcely dynamic, and the whole composition is lifeless. This score is ultimately forgettable.

Tron: Legacy (Original Motion Picture Score)

Find Daft Punk > Tron: Legacy on iTunes.

As much as I don’t want to say it, my buddy, Erik, is right: the score for Tron: Legacy is really good. I mean it. Really good.

I guess I was skeptical, because the composer is Daft Punk. I mean, come on, really? Do they know how to compose orchestral music? The proof is in the pudding; they did a great job.

The album is catchy and dynamic. Yes, given Daft Punk’s speciality, it has a lot of electronics in it, which are not my favorite, but they did a great job blending it all together. Most of all, it is original. There is nothing recycled about this album, which makes it most delightful.

If you are looking for a good original motion picture score, this is one to obtain. I highly recommend it. You can thank Erik.

Here are some noteworthy songs from the score as per the popularity in the iTunes Store:

  • Derezzed
  • The Grid

Personally, I like the first song, the Overture, and all the songs similar to it. Which ones do you like?

Green Lantern (Original Motion Picture Score)

Get the Green Lantern (Original Motion Picture Score) on iTunes

James Newton Howard (JNH) is at it again with the original motion picture score for this summer’s Green Lantern debut film starring Ryan Reynolds.

The music starts off with some dynamic and suspenseful bits. It’s not all that pretty; indeed, it sets the pace for the rest of the album. The fourth song, Drone Dogfight, is mediocre at best. I don’t know why JNH felt the need to incorporate electronic instruments into the score, but it just doesn’t jive well for me. The album doesn’t show any promise until 5 songs in. Did Adam Put You Up to This?, the 5th song, is intriguing and pretty, dynamic and suspenseful, and void of electronic instruments and full of strings, brass, and light percussion. It is a delightful song. The next hint of goodness is found in Genesis of Good and Evil, albeit short lived, and likewise for The Induction Process. The album falls flat for a while until it comes to You Have to Be Chosen. This song is pretty in places, but still just mediocre at best. You Have to Be Chosen is followed by Hector’s Analysis, which is decent. Hal Battles Parallax, the climactic song of the album, is suspenseful, energetic, and dynamic, and it is clearly the best song of the score. Though it is still filled with electronic bits, it is a solid composition. The last two songs of the score, however, quickly lose steam and taper off rapidly.

To put it bluntly, this score is not the best work of JNH. In large part, this score is boring and dull. Infrequently it showed promise. Ultimately, it was a disappointment, because it was infused with too many electronic bits.

Here are some noteworthy songs from the album:

  • Did Adam Put You Up to This?
  • We’re Going to Fly Now
  • You Have to Be Chosen
  • Hector’s Analysis
  • Hal Battles Parallax

X-Men: First Class (Original Motion Picture Score)



X-Men: First Class by Henry Jackman – Download X-Men: First Class on iTunes.

Who is this Henry Jackman who composed the latest score in the X-Men movie series? According to his Wikipedia entry, he has co-composed several scores, most notably The Holiday and Vantage Point, but this score appears to be his first all by his lonesome, and it is amazing. He successfully incorporated strings, brass, and percussion in this thrilling score. His music appeals to the ears and provokes the heart. Indeed, it is emotionally adorned with beautiful piano highlights amidst peaceful strings, yet it is powerful and suspenseful, as any action movie should have, and, so, it is a well blended score.

There are, however, a few things I don’t care for. I don’t care for the electronic instruments. If I am going to listen to a score, I would prefer it to be all acoustic. I don’t always get this feature, and I feel let down when I don’t. Transformers, however much I like it, does fail me in this aspect. But this failure is not enough for me to toss Transformers to the wayside, and the same is true of X-Men, but I digress.

Also, I don’t care for the “band”-like features. I want to listen to an orchestra, not a band. If wanted to listen to a band, I’d listen to metal. Band-like motifs, in my opinion, is unsavory in a score.

Still, I recommend this album. It is not boring or dull, but instead it is very entertaining, dynamic, and well composed.

Here are my favorite songs from this album:

  • First Class
  • Cerebro
  • Rise Up to Rule
  • Rage and Serenity
  • To Beast or Not To Beast
  • Coup d’état
  • Mutant and Proud
  • X-Men

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture)

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture) by Various Artists – Download Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture) on iTunes.

The fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean story has been released along with Hans Zimmer’s third offering towards the music, although this time he has teamed up with Rodrigo y Gabriela to add in some latin guitar sounds quite regularly. This discussion completely ignores all the remixes present in the album.

This album, aptly dubbed Pirates 4, utilizes the Jack Sparrow theme from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (Pirates 2) quite nicely. It takes the essential Pirates of the Caribbean themes as originally laid forth by Klaus Badelt (under the supervision of Hans Zimmer’s studio) for Curse of the Black Pearl (Pirates 1) and blends them in well. But the featuring of Rodrigo y Gabriela to me was undesirable. I really could have done without it. As a result, this album only somewhat satisfies. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (Pirates 3) still takes the cake for me. Pirates 1 was foundational. Pirates 2 was good but lost energy. Pirates 3 was perfect. Pirates 4, well, it’s kind of like Pirates 2. The genius of Pirates 3 was how well it not only incorporated themes from Pirates 1 and 2 but also made its own delightfully distinct themes. Pirates 4 has done the same, only its own distinct theme is Rodrigo y Gabriela, for which I have already expressed distaste. Well, the only time I like Rodrigo y Gabriela is their brief inclusion in the End Credits.

Here are some noteworthy tracks:

  • Guilty of Being Innocent of Being Jack Sparrow
  • Mutiny
  • Mermaids
  • Blackbeard
  • End Credits

Blackbeard is easily the best track on this score in my opinion.

What do you think? Is the score for Pirates 4 the best thing ever? Is it better than its predecessors? Do you like Rodrigo y Gabriela’s involvement in the score?

Crysis 2 (Original Videogame Soundtrack)

Crysis 2 (Original Videogame Soundtrack) by Hans Zimmer – Download Crysis 2 (Original Videogame Soundtrack) on iTunes.

It’s been a while since an original score really captivated my attention. Last Samurai, At World’s End, Batman Begins, and Transformers are among my favorites. Indeed, 2007 was a fantastic year, since it saw Transformers and At World’s End. But since then? I have not yet been captivated by anything as of late. Until now.

Crysis 2, which has been touched and molded by Hans Zimmer and others. Even though it isn’t for a movie, the music is really good. There are two albums: Crysis 2 and Crysis 2: Be Fast! Both albums have their own tracks, and both are necessary. For the price, you currently can’t beat it: each one is but $3.99 on iTunes!

By comparison, the Be Fast album isn’t as good as the regular original videogame album. It has lots of movements, but none that are particularly riveting. The original videogame album, however, begins and ends particularly well, yet it is filled with delightful moments throughout.

I wouldn’t say Crysis 2 is better than Transformers or At World’s End, but it definitely is good enough to captivate my attention. With summer swiftly approaching, it will be interesting to see if any movies come out with anything better than this video game’s score.

Here are some noteworthy tracks:

  • Crysis 2 Intro
  • Insertion
  • New York Aftermath
  • Under Assault
  • Invaders
  • Nano/Catalyst
  • Nanosuit 2/Crynet Systems
  • Unsafe Haven
I tag Erik Oleson over at Major William’s Gunpla and Halo Blog to give his thoughts on the Crysis 2 score.