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Army of the Dead
  • Composed by Tom Holkenborg
  • Milan / 49m

No sooner did the dust settle on his version of Justice League than here’s Zack Snyder again, this time with a return of sorts to his roots, a zombie movie for Netflix. Dave Bautista stars in Army of the Dead, leading a group on a heist of a casino vault in Las Vegas – the twist being that Las Vegas has become a walled city, enclosing all the zombies (who conveniently congregated there and allowed a circle of shipping containers to be placed around them). Snyder’s friend and now-regular collaborator Tom Holkenborg is of course on hand to provide the score – I thought Justice League was the best film music he’d ever written by some margin. This is a very different film though, and the score plays a very different role in it – indeed many of the movie’s really big (and most film composer-friendly) sequences are scored with songs or in one instance Wagner, leaving Holkenborg only with the gaps in between (and to be honest I barely noticed his score in the movie, so I don’t know how much of it was actually used in the end).

The album only features one of the songs – a cover of “Viva Las Vegas” by Richard Cheese and Allison Crowe which is used for the opening title sequence (which lasts longer than some Chinese dynasties did). The score itself begins on the album with the three-part “Scott and Kate”, running to 13 minutes – Holkenborg opens with a gently distant melody placed within a dreamy synthetic soundscape but the dream gradually turns into a nightmare as the music goes on, with increasingly-edgy sounds entering the aural palette including breathy sound effects. This is very much natural territory for the composer (going back to his roots) and I quite like it. I’m not so enthused by what follows – much more heavy-duty, industrial electronica tends to dominate which just isn’t my thing at all. It’s no surprise to hear music in this style written for a movie like this, but it is odd that Snyder used pretty famous tuneful songs (albeit cover versions) for so much of the movie and asked for such dark, relentless music from Holkenborg for the score. And the thing with film music is that because it can be essentially any style of music at all, if it’s in a style you don’t like – then it doesn’t really matter how well it may be written, the album isn’t going to be for you. The vaguely Justice League-like “Not Here” is a brief anthem-type cue but it sits in the middle of intense, oppressive electronica that just isn’t for me. The sampled choir in the finale “Zeus and Athena” hints at another type of score that would have made a more palatable album for my own tastes; needless to say, your own tastes may well differ.

Rating: ** | |

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  1. MrZimmerFan (Reply) on Sunday 23 May, 2021 at 09:44

    I’m agreed mostly with Southall in this one, altough i quite like those vocals for Zeus and Athena.

    But is a ambiental score i didn’t care when i was watching the movie, even if it fits with it, is my least score this year for Holkenborg (i prefer more Justice League and GvK ), but not as awful as Deadpool or Paranoia, even his stuff in G.I.Joe Retaliation.

  2. MrZimmerFan (Reply) on Sunday 23 May, 2021 at 09:46

    If you’re looking a good synth ambiental score, try Rob’s Oxygen, not a big fan of the composer, but was a nice surprise to me.