August 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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John DEBNEY The Scorpion King  
  VARÈSE SARABANDE VSD-6368   [54:39]

Scorpion King

The opening track 'Boo' is a mish-mash of big band rock that spills over into an atmospheric but hardly Ancient Egyptian-sounding Main Titles. I must admit that it put me off this CD immediately but I am glad I persisted because as with most of Debney's scores there is some material to interest the ear wearied of so many routine action scores.

Guitar and beat drums and cymbals clash further with racy rhythms and elephantine-like trumpets in 'Night Attack' that introduces some slower, sinister, nocturnal elements, and dramatic tension. In 'Vision of Doom' we have the obligatory, distantly set, wailing female vocal. 'Pickpockets' has welcome wit, with familiar Arabian motifs from both chorus and orchestra and some colourful twists that almost become fugitive figures from a western score. 'Valley of the Dead' returns with those headlong racy rhythms over ancient religious choruses. The Cave has all those clichéd creepings, slitherings and rattlings and more wailing, sudden bangs and one or two brief flashes of percussive and brass novelty. It works up to a terrific climax that must send the on-screen excitement into orbit.

The headlong excitement of 'Mathyus Arises' mixes music of heroic vision with the some of the aforementioned material. 'Balthazar's Camp', the most substantial track of the album at over five minutes duration mixes primitive rock and male vocal grunts with just some tenderness. 'I had a vision' brings back the female vocalist, pensive and more serene, before a storm in the orchestra sweeps her musing aside. A broad melody suggestive of peace and wide, sandy vistas follows. 'I've come for the woman' is another dynamic chaser with Debney making the brass and percussion sections really earn their session money (and watch your speakers). 'Die well, assassin' maintains the hectic pace, with chorus and orchestra going flat out. By the time 'Balthazar arrives', the listener is breathless, but there is no respite. 'The Scorpion King' at last brings resolution, majesty and victory exotic romance and, of course the heavenly choir well what else do you expect?

If you like your music loud, fast and exciting look no further. A something above average 'sword and sand' action score with all the usual suspect figures and one or two new ones.

Ian Lace


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