Music Review: "The Crow" Soundtrack
The music of "The Crow" is so interwoven with the film that it is much more than the normal filler between dialogue. In an interview two-and-a-half years ago, Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits said he disliked soundtrack work because the music often became trapped by the sounds and circumstances of the film. Knopfler would have loved to work with "The Crow"'s director, Alex Proyas. "The Crow" is Proyas' first major film work; he has directed rock videos in the past. With the film's use of music, his experience is apparent.
Many of the most important plot points and action scenes are heavily accented by the music. This dark underworld movie seemed to get even darker when its star, Brandon Lee, was killed in a production accident. But the songs are just as important for creating atmosphere as rain or shadows prominently seen throughout this film. Music is everywhere; from The Cure's "Burn" playing as Eric Draven (Lee) dons his white-and-black face paint, to Rage Against the Machine playing from a passing car, to My Life with the Thrill Kult and Medicine appearing in the villain's club. Even the brief appearance of some songs maintains the tone of the action . "The Crow" is a film that depends upon the energy, both creative and violent, of rock 'n' roll.
The soundtrack album includes such alternative bands as The Cure ("Burn"), Stone Temple Pilots ("Big Empty"), Nine Inch Nails ("Dead Souls"), Violent Femmes ("Color Me Once"), the Henry Rollins Band ("Ghostrider") and Jesus and Mary Chain ("Snakedriver"). Rage Against the Machine, Helmet, and Pantera also appear. Newer bands include Machines of Loving Grace, For Love Not Lisa and Medicine.
The Cure's "Burn" is beautiful, melodic and almost hypnotic because of its guitar and synthesizer work. Jamie O' Barr, the film's creator, consulted with The Cure in its development. Similar in style to "Burn" are the tracks by NIN and Machines of Loving Grace. Both tracks are just as powerful as "Burn." Trent Reznor's voice takes hold of your spirit in the cover of Joy Division's "Dead Souls." The guitar wails as Reznor desperately chants "Calling Me" as the track ends, taking you away into blackness. Machines of Loving Grace explore the gloomy, shadowy alleys and desperate characters of "The Crow"'s Detroit in "Golgatha Tenement Blues."
Probably the best-known song of the soundtrack is Stone Temple Pilot's "Big Empty." Although it is often played on the radio and is a good standard "grunge" tune, it still can't compete with Dead Souls' intensity. Hard-core fans will like the offerings of Pantera and Helmet, yet on the album, as in the film, they make minor appearances. In the cover of Suicide's "Ghostrider," Henry Rollins sounds like a deeper, stilted Jim Morrison. Rage Against the Machine seems slightly out of place with "Darkness," a blistering attack against the incompetence of the U.S. government's handling of the AIDS crisis and destruction of African culture. It's powerfully provocative, but the film deals with the realms of fantastic love and death, not the dreary terrible realities provided by the song.
The lesser-known bands, such as For Love Not Lisa and Medicine, provide some impressive work. While For Love Not Lisa sounds heavily influenced by Smashing Pumpkins, this is nothing to be ashamed of. Medicines' female lead offers something a little more mellow after the stormy ride of the other tracks. Finally, Jane Siberry sings "It Can't Rain All the Time." In the film, you hear a bite from a recording of Draven's band of this song, with what sounds like Lee on vocals. Siberry's version starts well but disappoints when Siberry lurches into the chorus. Hearing Lee's track, if it exists, would have been much more interesting.
This soundtrack will neither disappoint fans of the film nor music fans in general. Its dark and powerful music going to the deeper, more reflective corners of the soul. The music is vitally important to the film since it is so responsible for creative mood. Listening to the album quickly returns you to the dark, dangerous underworld of "The Crow"