Original Soundtrack

Underworld: Evolution [Original Soundtrack]

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A reviewer once suggested that there should be a sequel produced not to the movie Underworld -- which is a weak film at best -- but to its superb soundtrack, and indeed, the soundtrack was followed by a sequel (and a film to go with it, Underworld: Evolution) -- one that much more accurately reflected the mediocre nature of the movie franchise. While the soundtrack to Underworld was a slick meditation on sex and rage, the Underworld: Evolution soundtrack is mainly a weak collection of low-end death metal and screamo, with a handful of decent tracks thrown in perhaps by mistake. For instance, the single offering from Puscifer (a collaboration between Maynard James Keenan and Danny Lohner), "The Undertaker (Renholder Mix)," is an exquisite, four-minute-long consolation prize that does not in any way make up for the remainder of the album. Most of the disc is dominated by whiney, affected, and uninspired bands like My Chemical Romance and Aiden. A song by Slipknot, "Vermillion, Pt. 2 (Bloodstone Mix)," also appears on the disc but breaks character completely: there are no rap-metal vocals, there is no screaming, and the lyrical content does not appear to reflect an adolescent cry for help. Quite the contrary, the song sounds mostly like an industrial ballad, though this may in part be a result of remixing. Acts like Senses Fail and Atreyu offer up nearly identical uninspired screamo, utilizing the now standard recipe for rageful teenage rock by pairing a screaming vocalist with a whining one. A track by Alkaline Trio called "Burn (Alleged Remix)" is surprisingly enjoyable, separating itself from the angsty artists surrounding it and transcending the heavy-pain vibe to evoke a Depeche Mode-esque lack of self-awareness. Likewise, gothy prog-metal group Lacuna Coil deliver their trademark mystical sound on "Our Truth," providing an escape from the awkwardly serious bulk of the disc -- an ironic thing to do for a group that under normal conditions is considered to be the drug of choice for live-action role players. Even this track, however, is injected with the kind of Evanescence-style nu-metal breaks that poison the rest of the record. Aside from a few fun, glam rock romps by Bobby Gold and Meat Beat Manifesto (which draw nicely on acts like T. Rex and Venus in Furs without ever becoming derivative), there is really nothing else on Underworld: Evolution worth mentioning -- with one exception. Cradle of Filth's "HW2" is a work of such unbelievable singularity that, here and now, it is given the Award for Unintentional Hilarity in a Metal Record. Indeed, while "Cookie Monster vocals" have become a popular way to describe the guttural growlings of death metal, this track sounds like it was recorded by actual Muppets. It seems impossible that it was produced in seriousness and truly begs the mind to find some alternate explanation for its existence, such as it being a joke in the style of Tenacious D or GWAR. Behind the caricature lead is some hapless fool banging on a piano (or is that a Casio?) in an attempt to evoke a disturbing discordance and some studio technician, having just discovered the principles of stereo sound, throws the vocal track from left to right in a style fitting a "scary sounds" Halloween cassette tape. The truly award-worthy properties of the song, however, come at the chorus -- full of more hackneyed self-imposed whimsy than the cheesiest butt-metal and carried along by a bombasticism ripped straight out of a Poison concert circa 1987. This track is so bad, it is perhaps the best song on the soundtrack, providing potential fodder for a musical version of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

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