Dedicated to reviews and news of music for film, TV and games

Monday, April 14, 2008


Heavy Metal
Music by Elmer Bernstein
Film Score Monthly Vol.11 No.2 (US)
27 Tracks 72:40 mins

2008 just keeps getting better and better! Already we've seen some great releases of long sought after scores, like The Blue and The Gray, North and South, FSM's own Superman Box and the latest, Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend. Now, we have the complete score for 1981's Heavy Metal, which though it may replace my much-worn LP, I will always treasure that disc and certainly don't plan to part with it any time soon.
1981 was a time when I would actively seek out any new score from my favourite composers and, as so often was the case, I obtained the Heavy Metal score LP (there was a songs one as well) before I had even seen the film. What I discovered, despite the not so promising cover artwork, was a true gem and made me keen to seek out the film, which fortunately came to our modest little cinema; and I have to say I loved it. It was 1996 however that I was finally able to add it to my film collection, with the long delayed video release. Since then, I have of course replaced that with the DVD release, with its bonus features.
Although the film, one of the first truly adult animations, was, like the title suggests, filled with rock songs, the very nature of this series of sci-fi/fantasy stories, demanded a proper dramatic score and Elmer Bernstein certainly delivered one in spades. Some episodes called for more score than others and, although "Harry Canyon" had an effective film noir-styled accompaniment, and "Bomber and the Green Ball" from "B-17" remains one of my favourite album tracks, a real tour-de-force this; it was really the "Den" and "Taarna" episodes that saw the composer at his inspired best. "Den" boasts some beautiful romantic material, as well as one of Bernstein's most heroic anthems. As for "Taarna," my favourite episode from the film, this received some truly brutal and menacing scoring, making use of the by now much-cliched "Dies Irae." The highlight however is "Flight," one of my favourite all-time film music cues and, amazingly, the theme at its heart wasn't even composed for the picture, but in fact was written for the previous year's Saturn 3, but subsequently rejected. Lucky for us that it was, as Bernstein transformed it into a beautiful, soaring piece, featuring one of the composer's first uses of Ondes Martenot, not here performed by Cynthia Millar, who subsequently collaborated with Bernstein on sadly far too many projects that followed, turning an effective orchestral colour into an irritating gimmick; but by JeanneLoriod, sister-in-law of renowned classical composer Olivier Messiaen.
FSM presents all the material previously available on the Full Moon/Asylum LP, some of which was specially arranged for album release and is here included as bonus material, following the score presentation; all accompanied by the usual colourful booklet, with much artwork from the film, together with extensive notes and cue-by-cue guide by Paul Andrew MacLean and Alexander kaplan. Go to for further details, samples and of course to purchase this unmissable film music gem.


Post a Comment

<< Home