Maverick Records, 1999
REVIEW BY: Alfredo Narvaez
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/08/1999
What do you do to fill a movie with graphic special effects, lots of action and a twisted plot? Well, get a soundtrack that complements the movie, of course. That is the case with The Matrix. The movie uses brand new special effects and a mode of storytelling that's often seen only in Japanese animation. To go with the visuals, the movie's people have gone and raided the 90's vault of techno, metal and industrial to create a soundtrack that went with the movie.
So, let's take it from the top. The lead single and track went to Marilyn Manson's ode to the death of music, "Rock Is Dead." While I am not a big Manson fan at all, I actually ended up liking this hard nugget. The song is as bombastic and as fun as any of the 70s glam rock scene. The other rock tracks - Deftones' "My Own Summer" and Rage Against The Machine's "Wake Up" - fall somewhat flatter than Manson's though. I'll admit that I've never heard any other track by the Deftones--so I could be mistaken. As for Rage's, I've always believed they have the musical chops to be one of the best rock groups ever, but their lyric material always turns me off. Then there's Monster Magnet's "Look To Your Orb For The Warning," which, aside from having a long title, is a strong midtempo song. It actually feels like early era Ozzy Osbourne. Finally, there's the remix of Rob Zombie's ultra-cool "Dragula." Hot Rod Herman's remix is cool and manages to keep the vibe of the song.
Aside from those, the rest of the album is made of techno artists. On the upside, there's a number of quality material. Propellerheads' "Spybreak" is very rhythmic, very driving and pulsating - quite cool. There's Ministry's "Bad Blood," which is mean and aggressive and fits the movie to a T. Then there's Prodigy's "Mindfields" - a very focused and strong song.
Along with that, there's Rammstein's hit, "Du Hast." This is a perfect example of how to blend metal, techno and industrial all into one. I love it. Finally, you have Rob D's "Clubbed To Death." A song that goes through many changes--from strong to a soft piano back to strong. Though a bit drawn, the song sounds like something out of an anime movie - what the director's where going for. For you anime fans, this song reminds me of that movie, Robot Carnival. This sounds like something out of that.
However, there are a number of tracks that sound very...hmm... hodge-podgeish. Meat Beat Manifesto's "Prime Audio Soup" is a multitude of sounds that, though hard, never falls into an actual song. Likewise, Lunatic Calm's "Leave You Far Behind." It is stronger that "Prime Audio Soup," but it still a mess. Finally, you have Hive's "Ultrasonic Sound," which sounds like ambiance music and not a song.
Another problem I have with this album is that there's nothing new to offer. Yes, there's some big names and some cool songs in here, but what else is there. If you're a fan of this music, you got all this stuff - or most of it. And if you're not a fan, you'll probably go look for the stuff you like and dump the rest. I seriously think that the producer's ought to have looked for new material from these artists - that would have made the album more indispensable.
This album is good. There are some excellent tracks and some decent tracks and some bad tracks. It sounds like the typical soundtrack. But one thing it does right - you get the feel of the movie from it. And that lifts its grade a bit.