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The Darkest Hour by Tyler Bates

The Darkest Hour

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The Darkest Hour (Soundtrack) by Tyler Bates
The Darkest Hour (Soundtrack) by Tyler Bates
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The Darkest Hour (Soundtrack) by Tyler Bates

The Darkest Hour
Composed by Tyler Bates
Promotional Release (2010)

Rating: 2/10

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“BATES’ score starts and ends in almost identical fashion, valuing noise and sound-intensity over any real depth.”

Time for the Dark Side
Review by Richard Buxton
 


 

 

It would seem that TYLER BATES can’t get a break. Be it his role of composer on many a critical failure such as SUCKER PUNCH or CONAN THE BARBARIAN, or his baffling decision to apparently lift entire tracks from other scores without permission, the long-time ZACK SNYDER companion is still making audiences wait for the moment he truly comes into his own as a composer. Those hoping THE DARKEST HOUR might provide such an opportunity are to be left disappointed once again however.

It would not be unfair to say that THE DARKEST HOUR and BATES were both doomed from the very beginning. Coming under heavy fire for its lifeless script and weak concept, THE DARKEST HOUR has made little-to-no impact on both audiences and has hardly lit up the box-office. A fundamental flaw in a film can come in many variations, and in this case it comes in the shape of a complete lack of attachment to both the protagonist’s and their struggle, and to the perplexingly impotent antagonists. As a result, THE DARKEST HOUR is both a story-telling and musical failure.

It’s clear that whatever inspiration TYLER BATES may have felt when writing some of the brighter cues of his career, RISE OF THE ARGONAUTS for example, has found itself completely vanquished by this film. BATES’ score starts and ends in almost identical fashion, valuing noise and sound-intensity over any real depth. It’s a terrifying and bleak reality that BATES’ score starts at its best and gets progressively worse as it rips into the listener’s already bleeding ears.

Starting the tortuous listening process is “Space” (3) which, along with the final track “Looking forward” (19), is the track least likely to induce a mild case of murderous insanity with its metallic drones and pulsating synths. BATES finds the crux of the sound he wants, and sticks with it, regardless of how tired the sound quickly becomes. It’s clear that BATES’ music is intended to reflect the immediate and relentlessly terrifying threat that the writers and director had hoped the antagonists of the film would be, but the only moment of horror on offer here is the creeping realization that “Space” is a soothing and relaxing walk in the park compared to the twisted walls of sound and irritation that await.

One might say that this music fits the bill, opting for sound design and slowly evolving sounds ahead of anything remotely thematic. Others, however, might say that the role of the composer is almost belittled when the music demanded or accepted for use in a film is so one-dimensional and passionless, that it could realistically be composed by rudimentary artificial intelligence. Any time-traveling cyborgs from the future would do well to take note of tracks such as “They’re Inside” (8) and “Dusted” (13), and make use of them as psychological torture devices in their inevitable rise and eventual conquering of humanity. Both tracks cannot be described as anything other than nails-on-a-chalkboard painful, as the noise continues to ramp up relentlessly.

When the “music” does take a turn into something vaguely rhythmic, THE DARKEST HOUR becomes mercifully non-lethal in its inexorable quest for an evermore-irritating sound. The climactic moments towards the end of “Holy $h*t!” (11) are endlessly repetitive and obnoxious, but have recognizable musical traits such as notes, rhythm and progression. This brief respite is hastily pushed aside as the droning returns, albeit less painfully, in “Here’s Our Mission” (12), before the hectic and agonizing “Dusted” makes its presence known.

In what is potentially 2011’s most relieving musical moment, the all-too brief two minutes and forty seconds of “Say Goodbye” (15) present a lighter side to THE DARKEST HOUR as the simple piano and synths combine pleasantly. It’s back to square one almost instantly however, as the barrage of sound resumes until “Looking Forward” hints at what could be interpreted as a theme, no matter how basic and lifeless it may seem.

If this were an entry into 2011’s Psychosis Inducing Music Awards®, TYLER BATES would be on to a winner. Otherwise, THE DARKEST HOUR is a terrifying look at the dark side of film music. It becomes harder to argue with each score, but TYLER BATES is capable of music that is worth listening to, and both RISE OF THE ARGONAUTS and THE WAY both corroborate this. It’s just a shame that he either doesn’t seem to be given, or isn’t looking for any opportunities to build upon such works.

Rating: 2/10


Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 I Like That (Richard Vission, Static Revenger feat. Luciana 5:09 N/A
2 Mockba-Moscow - (Marsell) 3:22 N/A
3 Space 2:32  **
4 Northern Lights 2:39  *
5 Night Club Attack 3:01  **
6 The Bridge is Out 1:48  *
7 Crashed 1:06  *
8 They're Inside 2:43  *
9 Now What 2:18  *
10 Moscow Streets 1:55  *
11 Holy Sh*t! 2:46  **
12 Here's Our Mission 1:42  *
13 Dusted 2:48  *
14 Metro Shed 3:35  *
15 Say Goodbye 2:40  ***
16 Man Overboard 2:12  *
17 Train Yard Battle 4:02  *
18 Fighting Back 1:28  *
19 Looking Forward 2:33  **
  Total Running Time (approx) 50 minutes  

 

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