Masters of Horror (Soundtrack)

Reviewed by Manic Dave

Released by Immortal Records

Perhaps the most eagerly anticipated horror-related television event of, well, our lives, is the Masters of Horror series set to debut on Showtime on October 28th. Born out of an informal, bimonthly dinner attended by many of the most highly-regarded directors in the horror genre, the series was put together by Executive Producer Mick Garris, who helped make these directors, and in turn horror fans from all over the world, dreams (nightmares?) a reality.

Like any movie (or in this case, a collection of short movies), a soundtrack was certainly inevitable; and thus it was announced that there would be a Masters of Horror soundtrack. Equally inevitable — at least in comparison to the majority of horror movie soundtracks that have been released over the past several years — is the appearance of heavy music on said soundtrack. According to Garris, the connection between horror movies and heavy music is clear and certain.

“Horror is to cinema what rock ‘n’ roll is to music—Rebellious, transgressive, loud and abrasive—and the sound of horror is every bit as important as the vision,” says Garris in the Masters of Horror soundtrack liner notes. The soundtrack is available to the public on Tuesday, October 18. “As always, music plays an enormous role in the films of the Masters of Horror, and this disc provides a healthy sample of the music that lies in wait for you in our series of films. With any luck, you’ll find it a marriage made in hell.”

Though the appearance of heavy music on a horror soundtrack is not unique, the fact that the Masters soundtrack is a double-disc certainly is. And the bonus is, they’re selling it for the price of a single CD (Tower Records and FYE stores are both selling the disc for $11.99; at Tower, that will also include a promotional poster for the first 10,000 purchases). One more bonus: The record label which released the MOH soundtrack, Immortal Records, is allowing people the opportunity to hear the soundtrack before they buy it by visiting their My Space page.

The MoH soundtrack features 30 tracks from bands that range from the fairly well known (and least in the heavy music community), including recent Ozzfest 2005 participants Shadows Fall, Mudvayne, In Flames and Mastodon, along with Alkaline Trio, Avenged Sevenfold, Andrew WK and Buckethead with Serj Tankian of System of a Down, to the relatively unknown, including A Change of Pace, Gratitude, Bedlight For Blue Eyes and Armor For Sleep. All of the tracks are either brand new or previously unreleased.

Now, to the music itself. Do these songs constitute “horror music?” In other words, do these songs — whether in theme, lyrics, sound or overall vibe — have some relevance to horror? In some cases yes, in come cases definitely no, and yes there are shades of gray. According to the press kit attached to this CD, 22 of the 30 artists are “confirmed horror fans,” although only three songs were written specifically for the MoH soundtrack (Norma Jean’s “ShaunLuu,” Death By Stereo’s “Bottled Up,” and Bear vs. Shark’s “Victory Iceberg”); Fear Before the March of Flames’ monstrous “237” is their tribute to The Shining. Nevertheless, a handful of these tracks project a tangibly dark and foreboding tone, which is certainly fitting for the Masters of Horror soundtrack.

Among these “fitting” tunes includes a live version of Avenged Sevenfold’s “Beast and the Harlot,” which features ominous chimes and strong vocal harmonies; Mudvayne’s “Small Silhouette,” with such lyrics as, “Can’t seem to get away/Paranoid, can’t seem to stop looking over my shoulder/Stalking me, chasing me, am I lost inside a dream?”; Murder By Death’s sparse, piano-driven “End of the Road”; and a live version of Mastodon’s frantically maniacal “Megalodon.”

Several other tracks are fitting, if only because of the brutal intensity of their music and their frontman’s gravelly vocal delivery, which is a staple of the death metal, metal-core and “scream-o” genres. Among these tracks, standouts include the offerings from Shadows Fall, In Flames, Fall River, Every Time I Die, Bloodsimple and Norma Jean.

A few of these tracks, however, seem to stick out like sore thumbs on a soundtrack for the “Masters of Horror.” These include acoustic tunes from Gratitude, Matchbook Romance and Bedlight For Blue Eyes, none of which would qualify as anything close to “horror music.” Not that they’re bad tunes in any way…they just don’t fit in this context.

One other item of note: the packaging. The double-CD includes an impressive gatefold design with artist renderings of skulls, screaming faces and other horrific imagery. Though it would have been cool to have stills from some of the Masters of Horror films, the packaging is still a plus for the CD.

While the MoH soundtrack may not contain “traditional” horror music, it still provides a great sampling of some of the best and newest bands in a wide array of rock and metal genres. For more information on this CD, visit the soundtrack’s official site or Immortal Records’ homepage.

Masters of Horror track listing:

01. MUDVAYNE – “Small Silhouette”
02. NORMA JEAN – “ShaunLuu”
03. IT DIES TODAY – “Enjoy The Silence” (cover of Depeche Mode song)
04. FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND – “Lazarus (In The Wilderness)”
05. ANDREW WK – “You Will Remember Tonight”
06. ARMOR FOR SLEEP – “Very Invisible”
08. SHADOWS FALL – “This Is My Own”
09. THE BLED – “Nervous Breakdown” (cover of Black Flag song)
10. MURDER BY DEATH – “End Of The Road”
11. THURSDAY – “Division St” (acoustic)
12. BLOODSIMPLE – “Overload”
13. MASTODON – “Megalodon” (live)
14. DEATH BY STEREO – “Bottled Up”
15. FALL RIVER – “At Least You Bought Her Flowers”

01. BUCKETHEAD feat. SERJ TANKIAN – “We Are One”
02. RISE AGAINST – “Obstructed”
03. THE BRONX! – “Bats”
04. FROM AUTUMN TO ASHES – “Betwixt Her Getaway Sticks”
05. EVERY TIME I DIE – “Keith The Music”
06. MATCHBOOK ROMANCE – “In Transit (For You)”
07. BEDLIGHT FOR BLUE EYES – “Hindsight”
08. ALKALINE TRIO – “We Can Never Break Up”
09. AVENGED SEVENFOLD – “Beast and the Harlot” (live)
10. IN FLAMES – “Discover Me Like Emptiness”
11. A CHANGE OF PACE – “The Thin Red Line”
12. BEAR VS SHARK – “Victoria Iceberg”
13. GRATITUDE – “If Ever” (acoustic)
15. YESTERDAY’S RISING – “Contrast of Light and Dark”

3 out of 5

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