CD REVIEW - DANTE'S INFERNO
Music by Garry Schyman
27 Tracks 48:38 mins
This has certainly been a bumper week for quality game scores. No sooner have I reviewed the splendid music for Dark Void and Darksiders than here I am again with another great orchestral/choral score, this time composed by Garry Schyman of BioShock (of which more later) and the Destroy All Humans games. It's certainly the biggest score of the composer's career; recorded at London's famous Abbey Road with the London Philharmonia and the 40-strong Metro Voices. In addition, both sampled, and later live percussion, were added to the mix.
Dante's Inferno, from EA Games, follows the title character in his quest to rescue his murdered wife from Lucifer's clutches, and it was Schyman's job to come up with suitable accompaniment for Hell itself, which obviously would mean the scariest sounds he could come up with.
In a splendid interview with Tim Curran of Film Score Monthly Online (f you haven't yet subscribed, you really should do so), Schyman explains that his challenge was to "make music that sounded otherworldly in ways we haven't heard before" to match the "amazing" visuals.
First of all, he had to come up with a "Hell Theme," which appears at suitable moments throughout the score, as well as a rather spiritual love theme.
Schyman praises the Metro Voices, saying "they could do anything I threw at them." Interestingly, the text they are singing is not the cliched Latin, but in fact is Enochian, which originated in 16th-century England and, whilst originally thought to have been delivered to its originators by angels, it has become much more associated with the demonic over the centuries.
The choir is present throughout, whether helping to drive the many powerful and exciting battle cues on, or providing suitable menace and yes, awe, and they certainly show their expertise in some of the more difficult phrasing. Occasionally soloists emerge from the choir, as with the soprano in "Storms of Lust," "Arphe (The Descent)," and "The Second Circle;" and the truly evil bass baritone voice, presumably representing Lucifer himself, in "Abyssus Incendia." But credit too must go to the Philharmonia for their impressive playing of this sometimes difficult, and often dissonant, thunderous music.
It's hard to pick out individual tracks in this consistently riveting score, but I did especially enjoy action cues like "Dante, Casarma Treloch," "Adgt Vpaah Zong" and "Barma Beigla Te Carma," all of which generate furious Omen-like excitement; the relentless "Tower at the River Styx" and "Phlegyas Ravages Dis;" "Jas Davos Cha Dante Va" with its almost spitting male voices; the agonised screams and pounding drums of "Whores of Babylon;" the super-charged "Cerberus;" "Minos," with its harsh male chanting, reminding somewhat of similar villainous fare in Stargate; the righteous choral force of "Babalon Ors" and "The Defeat of Lucifer;" the powerful dark march of "Greed Minions;" and the love theme, as heard in "Redemption" and "Beatrice Taken" is nice, with its angelic female voices.
On this promotional CD, kindly sent to me by the composer's publicists, Top Dollar PR, there is a very generous sampling of Schyman's score, but the good news is that you can download the official soundtrack from Amazon or iTunes, which features no less than 40 tracks. Don't delay; if you like powerful orchestral/choral scores, you can't go wrong with this one. It's hard to see this not becoming yet another one of my top scores of the year. If 2010 continues this way, it's going to be a bumper year for new screen scores.
For more information on the composer go to www.garryschyman.com and look out for my review of his BioShock 2 score, coming very soon.