'DC Dark Nights : Death Metal - Soundtrack' Album Review
1 ‘Forged By Neron’ – Mastadon 2 ‘Diana’ – Chelsea Wolfe 3 ‘ANTI-LIFE (Featuring Chino Moreno)’ – HEALTH and Tyler Bates 4 ‘Meet Me In Fire (feat. Andy Biersack)’ – Maria Brink and Tyler Bates 5 ‘Anything, Anything – Grey Daze 6 ‘Broken Dreams, Inc.’ – Rise Against 7 ‘Never Ending’ – Manchester Orchestra 8 ‘Bad Luck’ – Denzel Curry and PlayThatBoiZay 9 ‘Skull With a Forked Tongue’ – Carach Angren 10 ‘Good Time Girl’ – Starcrawler 11 ‘Berserker (Feat. Dave Lombardo) – GUNSHIP and Tyler Bates 12 ‘Now That You’ve Really Done It’ – Greg Pucatio, Tyler Bates and Gil Sharone 13 ‘Stone Cold Earth’ – Show Me the Body 14 ‘Sodium’ – IDLES 17‘Kissing in the Rain’ – Soccer Mommy Back in the 90's and early 2000's there was a spate of soundtrack releases that seemed to showcase bands just as much as the film itself. "The Crow", "Singles", "Judgement Night" and "Trainspotting" and the like all became known for the music as well as the films themselves. Now DC Comics are trying something similar to tie in with their publications. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo are twisted geniuses behind "Dark Nights: Death Metal" a sprawling comic series that took regular DC heroes and villains and mixed them up across a Multiverse of alternative realities. A war for survival was waged that would eventually help reset the publisher's timeline over most of their publications. Forget Zak Snyder's gorged "Justice League" film, "Dark Knights: Death Metal" involved everyone and everything while rewriting comic continuity rules. DC decided to commission a soundtrack that would act as a stand alone listening event as well as being part of the comic series DNA. There could only be one guy for this role: enter Tyler Bates. You may recognise the name as Bates has built a solid career by helping collate, compile and compose several Hollywood blockbusters. You can catch his name in the credits on "300", "Dawn of the Dead", "Watchmen", the John Wick films, both Guardians of the Galaxy movies and "Deadpool 2" to name but a few. Tyler Bates is the perfect candidate for conscripting the right bands for the job. The album opens with heavy hitters Mastodon and their track 'Forged By Nuron.' The song also acts as the first single and it's just what you would hope it would be for some opening credits. The riffs are gargantuan with a groove that helps set the tempo and feel of what's to come. Chelsea Wolfe has been mixing Gothic, Folk, Electronica and Metal for a while now and sets her stall out perfectly with 'Diana', an atmospheric ode to Wonder Woman who is forced to run a prison in the series. It's woozy, like trying to find your balance on a boat. On the evidence of this I'll be checking out more of Chelsea Wolfe's work. HEALTH recently appeared on my radar for working with Nine Inch Nails and here they recruit Deftones Chino Moreno to provide vocals on 'ANTI-LIFE'. The track sounds like an amped version of The Cure; the beats are heavy with Chino adding a sense of class to the atmosphere. Maria Brink and Tyler Bates bring Andy Biersack from Black Veil Brides to sing on ‘Meet Me In Fire’ (he also lends his voice to Batman in an animated showcase for the comic series). Grey Daze features one Chester Bennington before he rose to fame with Linkin Park and his voice is unmistakable on the slice of Pop Punk they offer up here. ‘Anything Anything’ proves that Chester's talent would rise to the surface no matter what. It also works really well being followed by ‘Broken Dreams Inc.’ from Rise Against, it's galloping kick drum controlling the band's breakneck anthem. Manchester Orchestra might not be a name you're familiar with (I know I wasn't before now) but they'll hook you in with ‘Never Ending’. They conjure a sound that's filled with space but weighted with tension, not unlike Coheed and Cambria. For me personally though, the next couple of tracks don’t do much for me. Denzel Curry and PlayThatBoiZay drop a hip-hop infused ‘Bad Luck’ that feels like it misses the mark (I’m sure I’m not its intended market audience though) while ‘Skull With A Forked Tongue’ from the Netherlands’ Carach Angren is filled with guttural growls and blast beats. Black Metal has never really been my thing but I’m sure that others will dig it. Starcrawler have had a buzz about them for a while and with ‘Goodtime Girl’ you can see why. It’s a retro fuelled melodic stomper that’s as catchy as this virus that’s been kicking around for the past 18 months. Synthwave band GUNSHIP serve up ‘Berserker’ with the help of Bates and former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo, its epic sounding choruses are given extra texture thanks to Lombardo’s skills. Former Dillinger Escape Plan members Gil Sharon and Greg Puciato surprise with a swinging serpentine ‘Now You’ve Really Done It’. Show me the Body drop a lo-fi, fuzzy ‘Stone Cold Earth’, its tempo constantly catching you off guard. IDLES continue to warp and twist your brain with an experimental sounding ‘Sodium’. Finally, the album wraps with ‘Kissing The Rain’ by Soccer Mommy, the poppiest track on the collection. It almost acts as a palate cleanser after the various genres you’ve just listened to and rounds things off nicely. It’s hardly what I would call and essential soundtrack album. There’s nothing that jumps out to immediately hook you in. However, the majority of tracks here work well together. Bates has a great ear for what works well and as a result you’re drawn in. Do you need prior knowledge of the comic series? No, you don’t. But what you hear will help add a little something to the overall experience like a good soundtrack should. There’s plenty of nods and riffs to the comic series that will reward people who are looking to dig a little deeper.
Review - Scott Hamilton