The first collection of music from AMC's zombie drama The Walking Dead arrived nearly three years after the show, which is based on Robert Kirkman's long-running comic book, premiered and became a smash hit. Given the walker-like pace of releasing The Walking Dead: Original Soundtrack, Vol. 1, it's something of a surprise that it includes so little of the show's original score, especially when Bear McCreary's gorgeously dread-filled theme song (which appears here as a remix by UNKLE) and unsettling incidental music are as vital to the show's horror as its gruesome special effects. Having a composer of McCreary's caliber working on The Walking Dead recalls Michael Giacchino's brilliant scores for Lost -- one of this show's spiritual forebears -- not to mention that McCreary also wrote the music for another geek favorite, Battlestar Galactica. Fans bought the scores from those shows as eagerly as they picked up action figures, T-shirts, and videos, so it's interesting, if somewhat disappointing, that this soundtrack doesn't follow that geek-cred path. Aside from the theme song and the lovely, spare version of "The Parting Glass" sung by Lauren Cohan and Emily Kinney (who play sisters Maggie and Beth Greene), most of The Walking Dead: Original Soundtrack, Vol. 1 focuses on the songs by other artists that have appeared on the show over the years. Looking back, the series has featured a higher-than-expected amount of pop music, including songs by Wooden Shjips, Wye Oak, the Cave Singers, and Bob Dylan, but the selections were used subtly and were well suited to the show's post-apocalyptic South setting. This is also true of these songs, with the earthy, bluesy "Lead Me Home" by Jamie N Commons (a Brit who sounded twice as old as he actually was when he recorded it), Of Mice & Men's plaintive "Sinking Man," and Delta Spirit's gritty "Running" capturing The Walking Dead's hard edges and bleak beauty at their finest. While The Walking Dead: Original Soundtrack, Vol. 1 should please fans who enjoy the show's overall mood, it doesn't capture its essence the way a soundtrack with more of McCreary's score would have.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares