Strangeland

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

TVT Soundtrax Records, 1998

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/18/1998

Not being a horror movie fan (I got scared off the genre after watching Tonya Harding's wedding night video), I can't vouch for what the critics have been saying about Strangeland, Dee Snider's first step into the world of screenwriting. Judging from what the critics have been saying, it sounds like Snider should have stayed in the music business. (I gotta admit, some of the images I saw in the CD booklet scared the hell out of me - I have a hard time looking through it just to get information about the tracks.)

If only such a movie could also be judged on the strength of its soundtrack. Strangeland features selections from some of heavy metal's up-and-coming and biggest names today, and is, for the most part, very listenable and enjoyable.

Snider, formerly of Twisted Sister (more on them later), shows on the disc's opening track "Inconclusion" that he still has the pipes and the talent to be a good singer. The track is thoroughly enjoyable, and is somewhat stylistically different than what his former band used to put out. It's an interesting change for Snider, but not an unwelcome one.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

If you're either just getting into heavy metal or are returning to a genre you once were a part of, you're in for a treat throughout most of Strangeland. More familiar names like Megadeth (contributing "A Secret Place" from Cryptic Writings), Anthrax ("Piss & Vinegar") and Pantera ("Where You Come From") all make appearances on this soundtrack, each of them showing why they're considered to be at the top of the now-rebounding genre.

But there are many challengers to the throne waiting in the wings, as Strangeland alludes to. Bands like Sevendust ("Breathe"), Coal Chamber ("Not Living") and The Clay People ("Awake") all make strong cases with the tracks they contribute. The Clay People even got a cameo in the film, from what I've read in the press releases.

There's even a reunion of sorts, as Twisted Sister, including Snider, returns for one track, "Heroes Are Hard To Find" (no relation to the Fleetwood Mac song of the same name). The song is very much in the latter-day style of Twisted Sister (the Love Is For Suckers era), but is enjoyable nonetheless. Were Twisted Sister to reunite again, judging from the strength of this track, I'd gladly welcome them back to the scene.

Ironically, the two cover versions of Twisted Sister songs are the weakest moments of the whole album. Granted, I'm someone who grew up with the original versions of "Captain Howdy" and "Street Justice" from Stay Hungry, and Crisis and dayinthelife... should be commended for tackling these songs, knowing what they had to go up against. Be that as it may, these versions just don't do the originals justice (though I do like the chorus from dayinthelife...'s version of "Street Justice").

I also can't say I'm particularly fond of Marilyn Manson's contribution to the soundtrack ("Sweet Tooth"), but then again, I've never really been able to get into Manson's work. Likewise, Kid Rock ("Fxxk Off") and Nashville Pussy ("I'm The Man" - not the Anthrax version) don't particularly impress me. Still, these moments are rare on this album, leaving the remainder to be a pretty solid case for the status of metal in America.

Strangeland might be a box office bomb, but the soundtrack is explosive in a much better way. Think of this more as a sampler of today's metal scene - it will give you a pretty good idea of what's been going on the last few years.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of TVT Soundtrax Records, and is used for informational purposes only.