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Various Artists
label: Lakeshore Records
released: 09.02.03
our score: 3.0 out of 5.0

Maynard and Borland and Bowie, Oh My!
by: bill aicher

As a film about the battle between vampires and werewolves, heavy on black leather costumes and blue-gray film filters, it's only fitting that the accompanying soundtrack follow in a similar gothic vein. As such, the soundtrack for Underworld succeeds quite well. Featuring a veritable who's who in the genre, the Underworld soundtrack does an excellent job setting the dark mood of this world, weighing in heavily with an impressive array of metal, hard rock, industrial, and otherwise gothic-themed tracks.

The album leads off with one of its more impressive tracks, a collaboration effort from Wes Borland (former guitarist for Limp Bizkit), Richard Patrick (lead singer of Filter), Josh Freese (drummer for The Vandals and A Perfect Circle), and Danny Lohner (Nine Inch Nails collaborator) called "Awakening." The group, listed here as The Damning Well, sets the film's mood properly with impressive work all around, especially in Patrick's vocal work.

This is followed by "Rev 22:20" by collaboration group Puscifer, featuring Maynard James Keenan (Tool, A Perfect Circle) and Danny Lohner. Fans of Keenan's past work will be pleased by the song's sensational used of dynamics. Lohner's presence is also once again noticeable, as it is throughout the Underworld soundtrack. With a majority of the selections written, produced, or featuring Lohner, the album retains a sense of cohesion throughout, making it much more a complete product than has generally been the case with similarly-themed products (The Matrix Reloaded soundtrack?).

The album's highest point, however, is where Keenan once again raises his head on his collaboration with David Bowie, guitarist John Frusciante (of Red Hot Chili Peppers fame) - "Bring Me the Disco King (Loner Mix)." Featuring additional vocals by Frusciante and Lisa Germano (who also covers the piano part), string arrangements by composer Edward Shearmur, and drum work from Josh Freese, "Bring Me the Disco King" is the album's emotional high, and one of the best songs from Bowie in years. Dark, brooding, sad, and twitchy... absolutely fantastic.

The album retains a high level of skill and musicianship throughout, although "Baby's First Coffin" by Dillinger Escape Plan delves a bit too far into the death metal camp, not quite fitting in with the rest of what's here. Still, it's a small departure and fans of DEP will be pleased to find a new track from the band.

So, if the actual film Underworld follows anywhere in the footsteps of the dark, cohesive, emotional punch that's in the soundtrack, it could be quite a good flick. Still, by focusing so heavily on modern sounds rather than a more contemporary score, the soundtrack for Underworld does run the risk of dating the film quite badly - as is the case with so many films featuring modern rock soundtracks these days.
18-Sep-2002 9:22 AM

If you liked Underworld...

1. Awakening - The Damning Well featuring Wes Borland, Richard Patrick, Josh Freese, and Danny Lohner
2. REV 22:20 - Puscifer featuring Maynard James Keenan, Danny Lohner
3. Throwing Punches - Page Hamilton
4. Rocket Collecting - Milla
5. Now I Know - Renholder
6. Bring Me The Disco King (Loner Mix) - David Bowie featuring Maynard James Keenan & John Frusciante
7. Optimissed - Skinny Puppy
8. Down In the Lab - Renholder
9. Judith (Renholder Mix) - A Perfect Circle
10. Suicide Note - Johnette Napolitano
11. Baby's First Coffin - Dillinger Escape Plan
12. Hover (Quiet Mix) - Trust Company
13. Falling Through The Sky - Renholder
14. Weak and Powerless (Tilling My Grave Mix) - A Perfect Circle
15. Worms of the Earth - Finch
16. From A Shell - Lisa Germano
17. Death Dealer's Descent - Renholder
18. On The Lash - The Icarus Line
19. All Of This Past - Sarah Bettens