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|Paul Haslinger||Primary Artist|
|Hugh Marsh||Violin, Electric Violin|
|Coma Virus||Track Performer|
|Paul Haslinger||Composer, Producer, Audio Production|
|Steve Tavaglione||Sound Treatment|
|Robert Carranza||Engineer, Engineering|
|Skip Williamson||Executive Producer, Audio Production, Executive Soundtrack Producer|
|Brian McNelis||Executive Producer, Audio Production, Executive Soundtrack Producer|
|Stephanie Mente||Art Direction|
I actually liked the film "Rise of the Lycans." I am a fan of the Underworld franchise and I enjoyed both the fleshing out of the original backstory as well as the superb acting turned in by Michael Sheen and Bill Nighy. Being an avid collector of film soundtracks and scores, I was quite keen to get my hands on the "Rise of the Lycans" score by Paul Haslinger, who also composed the original film.
While I wasn't disappointed, I wasn't blown away, either. Listening to the score, I've found myself rather straddling the fence betwixt good and bad to reach a sort of 'blah' grey area.
"Rise of the Lycans" is an epic period piece that gave enormous opportunities for orchestral greatness that Haslinger neatly dodged; while no song on this album is bad, per se, neither are any of them standouts. There is no particular theme to pick up on in any point, no dramatic orchestration or heartrending melodies; instead, there is mild pleasantness and good scoring for a battle scene, and that's about it.
"The Rise of the Lycans" is the first track, and arguably one of the best on this CD. It's one of the few exciting pieces that comes close to establishing a genuine theme or mood. This is followed by the equally pleasing "Lucian and Sonja's Love Theme" which is again not a theme, but a pleasant piece of scoring.
After this fairly promising opening, however, the score slips into a tried and true (and boring) method of scoring horror movies - establishing ambiance and maintaining that creeping feeling through most of the tracks. Songs three through six slip by almost without notice, with each song having one good point hidden amidst the usual ambiant noise.
"Court Battle Suite" is when we again start to slip into some original score work, though it isn't more than mediocre. Haslinger really opens up for perhaps the first time on "Sonja's Trial and Execution," which is a fairly emotive piece that has a very dramatic ending that finally catches the listener's attention and segues very smoothly into the "Storming the Castle" battle sequence, which is thankfully more pulse-pounding than some of the other fare.
"Per Aspera Ad Astra" is perhaps the best song on the album, a seven-minute-long piece the contains all the different elements of the rest of the "Rise of the Lycans" score, and plays Haslinger's composer's hand rather elegantly. A neat little remix to the first song "The Rise of the Lycans" isn't particularly stirring but is a good way to top off the album by changing/adding to the first track, which was one of the better ones.
In the end, "Rise of the Lycans" is worth the listen if you are a fan of the Underworld franchise or of Haslinger himself, but is nowhere near good enough for those fans of genuine orchestral music. It accomplishes its purpose as a film score by adding to the cinema, but without its movie accompanying it, "Rise of the Lycans" is a rather unstirring experience.
Ultimately, I can compare it to Christophe Beck's similarly underwhelming "Elektra" film score: pleasant to the ear with almost no substance, "Rise of the Lycans" will slip in one ear and out the other with no harm done. At an only 36 minute length album, there are worse things out there to spend your money on.
3 1/3 out of 5 stars.