Reviewed by Gregory S. Burkart
By the third entry in the Resident Evil film series, you've probably come to expect the loudly trumpeted tie-in CD, with the familiar ?Music Inspired By The Motion Picture? tag (which roughly translates as ?includes songs from bands whose music we couldn't shoehorn into this movie but we own the licenses to their tracks so we're going to hot-glue them to the same promo campaign?) and its accompanying media hype, often rivaling that of the film itself. Strangely enough, despite the expected promotional push, this collection drops the ?inspired by? tag, but ironically contains songs less befitting a zombie-filled apocalypse epic than, say, a One Tree Hill rerun. The result is an odd collection that, even disassociated from the film itself, seems lost in search of a cohesive theme.
All the titles on the domestic edition CD (the European release contains bonus tracks from Nightwish, Neurosonic and Overkill) are either exclusive to the soundtrack album, or are remixes of earlier tracks tailored to this release, which makes the lack of thematic focus even more distressing. Metal predominates this collection, from straight-up grind to psychedelic and art-core, and the screamo flavor of the weak (that's not a typo); there's far less industrial/electronic content than previous installments, and even a few painfully wrong head-scratchers that could make potential buyers even more bitter that they can't cherry-pick single tracks on iTunes.
Punctuating the album's one-hour length are welcome bursts of sonic mayhem from Charlie Clouser, Nine Inch Nails alumnus and composer for the Saw series. Sadly, these fine moments are all too brief (seldom more than 45 seconds a pop) and merit a separate CD package of score music only. What remains of this material is still pretty powerful stuff: ?Laser Tunnel? sounds like a classier version of Marilyn Manson's ?Seizure of Power? from the first installment, and the main title and closing themes have a somber but epic feel.
Continuing on the listenable end of the spectrum, standout songs include the single ?My World? from Emigrate, the new outfit from Rammstein founder Richard Kruspe. His trademark riff-stacking is the driving force in this one, and the energy is relentless. The shudder-inducing ?Wrecking Itself Taking You With Me? by avant-metalists Poison the Well is another superior cut, showcasing the band's typically odd, hard-to-pin-down chord patterns, tragic lyrics and a pervasive sense of doom. Emanuel's ?Scenotaph? is also fairly memorable - an ear-searing, energetic mix set to an addictive mid-tempo rhythm line that throbs with menace.
The mid-level tracks are, frankly, a mixed bag: on the plus side is a creative effort in psychedelic ghost-rock from The Bled, progressive metal from City Sleeps and Fightstar (who reminded me more than a little of Opeth), as well as Legion Of Doom's surprisingly good remix of Aiden's ?One Love? (a little heavy on the underwater piano effect, though). Collide offer a big-sounding rework of their popular cover of ?White Rabbit,? filled with their usual menacing sensuality (although KaRin's vocals are distorted beyond recognition). The more straightforward metal offerings consist of strangely mediocre material from Shadows Fall, Chimaira and Throwdown - skilled bands who have done far more interesting work in the past, but seem to be playing by numbers here.
The remaining tracks range from ill-fitting to ?what the hell was that?? Personally I can't stand Flyleaf, and I'm sure I'll get hate for saying so, but I couldn't care less. Admittedly, Legion Of Doom again pull off a fairly skillful remix of the band's hit ?I'm So Sick,? bringing the creepy bassline forward and pushing Lacey Mosley's annoyingly nasal vocals to the background... which helps some, I suppose. Bayside, however, is far more heinous: first imagine Green Day crossed with They Might Be Giants, then remove all irony, social relevance or humor... then slap yourself really hard in the head. That sums up their contribution pretty well. Searchlight's vocalist does some curious things at first (reminding me of Geddy Lee with throat nodes) but quickly lapses into predictable emo, and the song structure shambles along with very little dynamic range until it becomes exhausting. At the bottom of the heap, It Dies Today shovels up the kind of whiny, self-pitying hoodie-rock that I find so personally repugnant that I'll censor myself now to avoid legal repercussions.
Soundtrack compilation CDs nowadays tend to be the major labels' equivalent of making hash (the food item, not the stuff they sell in Amsterdam), in an effort to get as much value as possible out of leftovers that probably wouldn't be too appetizing on their own. Sometimes if you're lucky, there's an over-arching theme to add spice and tie the ingredients together, but most of the time it smells kinda funny and you wind up feeding it to the cat.
Psst, psst... Mr. Mittens? Dinner!