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Gods of Egypt (Marco Beltrami)

March 2, 2016

Cover-GodsOfEgyptGODS OF EGYPT

Marco Beltrami, 2016, Varese Sarabande
26 tracks, 74:19

Following “I, Robot” and “Knowing” Marco Beltrami teams up, once more, with director Alex Proyas. This time to score a battle of epic proportions. This battle, you see, is for nowt less than ‘t eternity…

Review by Pete Simons

What is it?

Fantasy adventure directed by Alex Proyas, who previously made the excellent “Dark City”, “I, Robot” and various others. Mortal hero Bek teams with the god Horus in an alliance against Set, the merciless god of darkness who has usurped Egypt’s throne, plunging the once peaceful and prosperous empire into chaos and conflict. Gerard Butler (Set) is arguably the biggest name on the cast list. The film was poorly received; and to be honest… the trailer didn’t look particularly attractive. Marco Beltrami delivers his third score for Proyas, and has a change to really let rip on this extravagant spectacle.

What does it sound like?

“The magnitude of score is beyond anything I have done before,” said Beltrami. “This two and half hour score is the biggest film score project I have ever undertaken, after all these years that it saying something. Just mixing it took over a month but it was all worth it as it is really fun to stretch my wings a bit.”

Seventy-four minutes of Beltrami’s work is represented on the album; and it sure is big. It’s performed by the Sidney Scoring Orchestra and Cantillation Choir; and features vocal performances by Asdru Sierra, Angela Little and Sussan Deyhim. There is ‘electroacoustic design’ by Buck Sanders, additional music from Brandon Roberts and Marcus Trumpp and orchestrations by no less than eight people (including Pete Anthony and Jeff Atmajian).

It probably goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway – Beltrami infuses his score (particularly: his melodies) with Egyptian stylistics. Let’s be honest, you wouldn’t expect anything else. During the prologue he introduces a sweeping melody that is reminiscent of anything from “Lawrence of Arabia” to “Stargate” and “The Mummy”. Of course this theme is reprised throughout the score. Notably in cues like “Coronation” (which is lush and sweeping, but hindered by its incessant percussion);

A second theme is introduced in “Bek and Zaya”, and this is a gentle, little thing for flute. It sort-of keeps revolving around the same, small number of notes. It returns a few times, in cues such as “Underdog” (much more sinister here), “Chaos” (which almost sounds like Streitenfeld’s theme for “Prometheus”); and it climaxes in both “God of the Impossible” and the romantic (and somewhat Giacchino-ish) “Bek and Zaya’s Theme”. The falling woodwind patterns in the latter cue are a really nice touch; and actually… this is the first time the score really sounds like Beltrami to me.

The album features plenty of action set-pieces. In fact, the whole score feels like an action set-piece, which is my biggest gripe with it. Everything is so loud, so big, so aggressive and in-your-face, all of the time… no matter how well it is done, it gets tiresome. “Set vs Horus” features layers and layers of percussion with wailing brass, choir and (towards the end) crashing pianos. For the percussion Beltrami relies heavily on the deep, low sound of taikos and timpani, the mid-range sound of toms and the higher pitched sound of the sticks. It’s almost an orchestra on it own. Unsurprisingly, the higher pitched percussion instruments easily pierce through the wall of orchestral sound and often feels dominant. I’m not a fan of this – certainly not when it’s done so frequently.

Other prominent action cues include “Snakes on a Plain”, “Elevator Music” (in which the echoing percussion briefly reminds me of Silvestri’s “Van Helsing”), “Obelisk Fight Part 1” and “Obelisk Fight Part 2” both of which are high-strung pieces of music with hyperactive brass writing akin to John Williams. All the while, percussion is pounding, choirs are screaming and the strings and winds are racing.

“The director Alex Proyas and I did some great research together to create the right sound,” Beltrami described. “We watched some of the great films that reflected the area and sensibility we are going, for such as “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “Black Narcissus”, “Lawrence of Arabia” together as these were influences of his for the film and wanted the music to perform a similar thematic function. After that I did my best to deliver.”

Is it any good?

Marco Beltrami’s “Gods of Egypt” sure is one huge, loud and aggressive score. The composer pulls no punches, does not hold back and takes this opportunity to deliver, in his own words, his biggest score to date. There is a lot to like here – from “Bek and Zaya’s Theme” as well as the movie’s main theme, both of which are reprised throughout the score. There are some absolutely barn-storming cues here! The score has to that lush sound and that ‘Arabian’ swagger that we know and love from scores like “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Stargate” and “The Mummy”. The percussion section is so big and rich, it’s practically an orchestra in its own right. And there is plenty of choir and additional vocals. There is a lot of fun to be had with this score; and I’m sure it’ll rank highly amongst the fans.

And yet, having said all that, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed. The score as a whole doesn’t quite equate to the sum of its cues. It’s just unrelenting! It’s exhausting. It’s one of those scores that just keeps bobbing you on the head, screaming at you “are you not entertained?!!!” – it’s just all a bit much. For reference, this score very happily sits in-between Beltrami’s own “The Fantastic Four” and “The Seventh Son”. Personally I prefer the latter, as I believe it’s a better balanced album.

Rating [3.5/5]


01. Gods Of Egypt Prologue (2:41)
02. Bek And Zaya (0:44)
03. Market Chase (0:30)
04. Coronation (2:26)
05. All Quiet On Set (0:41)
06. Set vs. Horus (3:40)
07. Hathor’s Bedroom (3:42)
08. Bek Steals The Eye (4:08)
09. Shot Through The Heart (3:01)
10. Underdog (1:25)
11. Red Army (1:40)
12. Wings And A Prayer (3:01)
13. Osiris’ Garden (1:29)
14. Snakes on a Plain (3:12)
15. Toth’s Library (3:27)
16. Straight Out of Egypt (2:28)
17. Channeling Zaya (2:29)
18. Return of the Mistress of the West (2:28)
19. Chaos (3:42)
20. Set Confronts Ra (3:29)
21. Elevator Music (3:06)
22. Obelisk Fight Part 1 (4:12)
23. Obelisk Fight Part 2 (3:32)
24. God Of The Impossible (5:39)
25. Bek And Zaya’s Theme (4:37)
26. Hathor’s Theme (3:35)

Review (C) 2016 Synchrotones

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