“World War Z” Marco Beltrami Soundtrack Review

world war z soundtrack

World War Z: Music from the Motion Picture

Composter: Marco Beltrami
Record Label: Warner Bros.
Album Length: 11 tracks: 44 minutes, 28 seconds
Release Date: June 18, 2013 (Amazon.com / iTunes)

Ever since scores from films like Men In Black, Dante’s Peak, U.S. Marshals, and yes, even Titanic released in the late 90s, this movie buff has been quite the fan of theatrical film scores (and, incidentally, it inspired me to pick up some gems from the 80s like Empire Strikes Back, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Ghostbusters). While many films I may never even see may have some incredible scores to their credit, part of the listening experience (for me, at least) is having knowledge of and appreciation for the film the score is composed for. So, for me, I really only listen to scores for movies I’ve seen and have enjoyed.

With that said, the 2013 summer blockbuster zombie apocalypse flick, World War Z, was a movie I found myself enjoying quite a bit. Knowing that composer Marco Beltrami scored another blockbuster I enjoyed — and really dug the music for as well — I, Robot, I was interested in listening to Beltrami’s isolated score. I remember while watching the movie that I was trying to listen for his score, whether it stood out from the film or not. Instead, the score seemed to kind of blend with the film almost seamlessly. In a way, this is probably one of the more ideal situations for a score. If you’re not noticing that the score is hurting the movie, chances are its doing its job. For World War Z, Beltrami’s score is just kind of “there” as part of the movie watching experience and aids in the emotion and tension of the film. However, it’s not necessarily a score that stands out so much that you’ll be itching to pop it in and listen to it at your leisure.

The problem with horror music is, unless you’re a hardcore horror buff, it doesn’t really make for the best background music (let alone music to drive to). Still, Beltrami’s score for World War Z is a good one. Tracks like “The Lane Family” and “Like A River Around A Rock” contain more emotional and tender themes; they’re the kind of tracks you’ll want to revisit over and over. The other nine tracks are a mix of action and horror for the most part. “Philadelphia” has a good building action feel with horn blasts and a style that may remind score fans of Michael Giacchino’s theme for Nero in the 2009 Star Trek film. Similarly, “Salvation Gates” has more of that bigger, theatrical action sound, as does “Wales,” which also has some softer piano moments and bears that ‘hero theme’ feel. But the rest of the album plays to the more horror and mysterious elements of the plot. “Ninja Quiet” builds up to a chase scene and is on the scary side; “Searching For Clues” is a quieter, more subtle track; “NJ Mart” features some action but utilizes some creepy sounds and dissonance to capture the unsettling feeling of the scene in Newark, and “Zombies In Coach” has a similar effect; “Hand Off!” is slow and scary, capturing a similar feel to some of the horror sounds David Arnold worked into his Hot Fuzz score; and “No Teeth, No Bite” has a more ominous, brooding vibe.

Ultimately, Beltrami got the job done when he scored World War Z, keeping things grounded and moody without going for campy or fantastic to create a larger than life soundscape. I did miss a distinctive theme, like one he provided for I, Robot, but I realize it probably wouldn’t have suited this kind of movie. This particular score works beautifully for the film, but on its own, for our listening pleasure, it isn’t quite the same. It’s a good soundtrack, but chances are film score listeners will be spinning Zimmer’s Man of Steel or another one of this summer’s blockbuster outings before this one.
John DiBiase, (reviewed: 7/8/13)

Standout Tracks: “The Lane Family,” “Salvation Gates,” “Wales,” “Like A River Around A Rock”

01. Philadelphia (4:04)
02. The Lane Family (2:49)
03. Ninja Quiet (2:55)
04. Searching For Clues (5:35)
05. NJ Mart (4:02)
06. Zombies In Coach (3:45)
07. Hand Off! (2:50)
08. No Teeth No Bite (3:27)
09. The Salvation Gates (4:26)
10. Wales (5:23)
11. Like A River Around A Rock (5:09)

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