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Underworld: Awakening by Paul Haslinger

Underworld: Awakening

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Underworld: Awakening (Soundtrack) by Paul Haslinger
Underworld: Awakening (Soundtrack) by Paul Haslinger
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Underworld: Awakening (Soundtrack) by Paul Haslinger

Underworld: Awakening
Composed by Paul Haslinger
Lakeshore Records (2012)

Rating: 4/10

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“HASLINGER’S score does what the film requires of it, retaining basic continuity with his other franchise music by taking the same, largely industrial approach. ”

Underworld:  Do Not Disturb
Review by Edmund Meinerts

Attracting something of a cult following and consistently performing well at the box office despite scathing critical reviews across the board, the UNDERWORLD series proves that all you really need to earn money in Hollywood these days is Kate Beckinsale in a tight leather outfit. Throw in a few battles between supernatural creatures – vampires, werewolves, the usual types – and the result is a series of films where style is clearly prioritized over substance. Fortunately, films such as this would seem to offer ripe ground for a composer to let rip with some equally stylish horror music – unfortunately, that’s rarely the case with this series, and the fourth entry is hardly an exception to that rule.

To take a hybrid approach to the UNDERWORLD film scores would seem to be a logical move, considering the similarly hybrid creatures battling it out on the screen. Therefore, PAUL HASLINGER was approached to score the first film. HASLINGER, a former member of the electronic music group TANGERINE DREAM, has been dabbling with film scoring ever since that group’s own forays into the genre in the 80s, before lending his electronic programming services to GRAEME REVELL’S scores in the late 90s and early 00s. UNDERWORLD represented HASLINGER’S first exposure to the mainstream, and he responded with a primarily industrial score that offered both the necessary grungy drive for the fight scenes, and a handful of compelling softer ideas. It was never the most refined of scores, but the modern approach worked for the franchise.

Therefore, its enthusiasts reacted badly when the more established MARCO BELTRAMI was brought in to score the sequel, UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION. BELTRAMI’S score, though significantly more orchestral than HASLINGER’S effort, was ultimately a stock horror score that failed to recapture the bite – pun only partially intended – of the original. Therefore, HASLINGER was reinstated for the franchise’s third entry, UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS, but despite a more robust orchestral presence, that score was nothing more than a rudimentary continuation of the sound of the first score, lacking the more memorable themes or cohesive fight cues. And unfortunately, that is also the case for UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING.

The most damning feature of this score is that it is simply dull. Many tracks, such as “The Purge” (1), “I Was Subject 2” (5), “I’ve Never Seen a Child Like This” (7), “Then Came the Purge” (14), and so on feature little more than basic, droning underscore that makes for an extremely drab listening experience on album. At least the outright horror stingers, such as that in the middle of “I Was Subject 2” (5), are not so frequent as to make the experience unbearable. Of slightly more interest are the louder action cues, which logically become more frequent towards the end of the album. In many of these cues, such as “Selene Returns to Antigen” (15) and “The Lycan Van Escape” (17), HASLINGER adds a synthesized-sounding orchestral presence to the churning industrial sounds, though this is mostly limited to the basic palette of chopping strings and brass whole notes that HANS ZIMMER has made so ubiquitous. Outside of “Prepare the Armory” (11), none of these cues ever really manages to pick up a head of steam, stopping and starting too frequently to make for satisfying listening.

The softer underscore material is where HASLINGER found success in the past, his “Eternity and a Day” love theme from the first film becoming the most popular identity from the series. Unfortunately, he neither reprises that theme nor replaces it with a new one here, leaving cues such as “If You Knew Him as I Did” (10) to meander aimlessly through pleasantly anonymous progressions for piano, strings and keyboards. Still, these softer moments are a nice respite from the grating industrial sounds that define the score. Occasionally, such as in “Arriving at the Coven” (6) and “Reclaiming the World” (20), HASLINGER tries to step forward and instil the score with a sense of awe, the latter cue somewhat resembling his ZIMMER-soundalike effort for THE THREE MUSKETEERS in 2011. The synthetic chorus he employs is undermixed, diminishing the impact, but more moments such as these would have certainly elevated the listening experience greatly. The brief female vocals in the pretty “The Melancholy of Resistance” (21) are another sadly underutilized effect. Those final two cues finally introduce a recognizable theme, but this basic rising motif is too little, too late. The obnoxiously industrial “A New Dawn” (22) closes out the score portion with some unpleasantly warped exotic elements.

Tacked onto the end of the score release are three “bonus” tracks, offerings of electronica that are unrelated to HASLINGER’S score. “Corner (Justin Lassen Remix” (23) is the only one of the three that is even somewhat palatable, the other two scraping the bottom of the industrial barrel with their inane shouting and simplistic electronic pounding.

Ultimately HASLINGER’S score does what the film requires of it, retaining basic continuity with his other franchise music by taking the same, largely industrial approach. It’s the sort of music that does just enough, adding another layer of noise to the sound effects during action/horror scenes and some pleasant ambience during conversational ones, and it surely won’t offend anybody in the film. On album, however, it’s simply too generic, too aimless and too dull to suffice for anybody but the most die-hard of HASLINGER’S supporters.

 

Rating: 4/10


Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 The Purge 3:02  **
2 Main Titles 0:52  ***
3 Raiding the Army Surplus Store 1:44  ***
4 Non-Human Aggressor 1:30  ***
5 I Was Subject 2 3:01  **
6 Arriving at the Coven 2:23  ****
7 I've Never Seen a Child Like This 1:42  **
8 This is Not One of Us 3:19  ***
9 I Know Exactly What You Are 1:37  ***
10 If You Knew Him as I Did 3:46  ***
11 Prepare the Armory 2:09  ****
12 The Uber-Lycan 1:06  ***
13 Reanimation 1:16  **
14 The Came the Purge 2:29  **
15 Selene Returns to Antigen 2:07  ***
16 Find Her and Destroy Her 2:27  ***
17 The Lycan Van Escape 2:14  ***
18 I Heal Instantly 1:41  ***
19 You Came Back 1:15  ***
20 Reclaiming the World 1:29  ****
21 The Melancholy of Resistence 2:40  ****
22 A New Dawn 3:36  **
23 Blue Stahli - Corner (Justin Lassen Remix) 4:30  **
24 Aesthetic Perfection - Under Your Skin (Deadbeat Remix) 3:53  *
25 Angelspit - Sunrise 3:26  *
  Total Running Time (approx) 59 minutes  

 

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