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Artwork copyright (c) 2001 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; review copyright (c) 2004 James Southall



Lengthy and simplistic superhero score - but it's good fun


Following the runaway success of The Omen (thanks in no small part to Jerry Goldsmith's magnificent score), a sequel was inevitable, and so it came, just two years later.  The difference in pedigree was enormous - replacing Richard Donner in the director's seat was Don Taylor, whose most famous film is Escape from the Planet of the Apes (scored by you-know-who); and replacing Gregory Peck and Lee Remick as the couple looking after the infamous Damien were William Holden and Lee Grant.  The producers did manage to convince Goldsmith to return, however, and he revisited ground that had won him an Oscar.

The first movie charted Damien's very youngest years; in the first sequel he was an adolescent, and now living with his aunt and uncle, causing the pre-requisite death and destruction.  Goldsmith's first score is chilling, frightening and exciting, but actually done on a rather small scale - yes, there is a choir, but the orchestra rarely reaches above chamber proportions.  For Damien: Omen II Goldsmith decided, basically, to make everything bigger.  He probably realised that, this time round, he wasn't going to be able to single-handedly make the movie seem scary and seem good - even he couldn't do it for this movie - and one gets the distinct impression that the composer was taking his original material and just have fun with it - it is easy to imagine him sitting amongst reams of manuscript paper with a mischievous grin on his face.

The bulk of the score offers reprises of classic pieces from the original such as "The Demise of Mrs Baylock" and "The Dogs Attack", only with more lavish orchestration.  They are great to hear, but lack the immediate potency of the original.  The opening theme is a little different, a far more visceral and base choral chant, accompanied by the unnerving tones of a jew's harp.  Highlights include the frantic, frenetic "Runaway Train" and "False Temple", whose pipe organ lends it a particularly apocalyptic air that is almost a precursor to The Final Conflict.  The more tender, jaunty "Snowmobiles" is the only real equivalent here of the "New Ambassador" music from the first movie, which punctuated the horror and allowed the listener a few breathers - don't expect any breathers in the sequel, which is pretty much chilling horror music from start to end.

As was fairly common at the time, the score was recorded for the movie in Los Angeles but reuse fees meant an album was impossible, so Goldsmith and conductor Lionel Newman traveled to London and recorded the score with the National Philharmonic specifically for the album.  This Deluxe Edition from Varese Sarabande actually includes both recordings; there aren't too many notable differences, just a few moments of extra music in the film recordings (including the important "Snowmobiles"), but this is a score good enough to warrant effectively listening to twice in one go.  It occupies a slightly strange place in between the masterpieces of film music that make up the first and third scores in the series and so is sometimes overlooked but, despite not quite being up to their standards, this is still a wonderful film score.

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Album Tracks

  1. Main Title (5:03)
  2. Runaway Train (2:38)
  3. Claws (3:14)
  4. Thoughtful Night (3:05)
  5. Broken Ice (2:19)
  6. Fallen Temple (2:55)
  7. I Love You, Mark (4:37)
  8. Shafted (3:00)
  9. The Knife (3:21)
  10. All the Power (3:24)


Film Tracks

  1. Main Title (2:03)
  2. Face of the Antichrist (2:20)
  3. Fallen Temple (1:33)
  4. Aunt Marion's Visitor (:36)
  5. Another Thorn (1:18)
  6. A Ravenous Killing (3:07)
  7. Snowmobiles (1:11)
  8. Broken Ice (2:21)
  9. Number of the Beast (1:33)
  10. Shafted (3:00)
  11. The Daggers (1:56)
  12. Thoughtful Night (2:36)
  13. I Love You, Mark (4:12)
  14. Runaway Train (1:10)
  15. The Boy Has to Die (1:24)
  16. All the Power (3:14)