With a résumé that dates back to his membership in the Los Angeles rock band Pet and the group's participation in the soundtrack for Crow: City of Angels (1996), and that includes the scores for 300 (2007) and Watchmen (2009) among many others, prolific film composer Tyler Bates seems like a logical choice for director Chris Gorak's science fiction thriller The Darkest Hour, in which aliens attack Moscow. Following two pieces of source music, the dance-rock song "I Like That," by Richard Vission and Static Revenger featuring Luciana, and Marselle's Russian rap "Mockba" (Moscow), Bates begins with an ominous electronic soundscape aptly titled "Space." He has opted to avoid a traditional symphony orchestra and choir in favor of creating more of a "sound design" than a strictly musical score, employing synthesizers, particularly including the atonal sound of a Synare. The result on a cue like "Northern Lights" can seem more like sound effects than music per se, but it certainly is scary, which is the point. And despite the absence of acoustic instrumentation, Bates sometimes re-creates familiar movie score effects, aping the sound of an orchestra (albeit with more percussion than even a double complement of timpani could replicate) on tracks such as "They're Inside" and "Holy $h*t!" So, whatever the means, the ends achieved in his music eventually conform to movie conventions, whether he is accompanying a big action sequence ("Dusted") or giving the audience a breather after a climax in the calm, elegiac "Say Goodbye," prior to the big, final struggle ("Train Yard Battle").
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
|The Darkest Hour|