Soundtrack Review: Army of the Dead (2021)

Milan Records has released Army of the Dead (Music From the Netflix Film) by multi-platinum producer, musician, composer and educator Tom Holkenborg aka JUNKIE XL.  

Available everywhere now, the album features music written by Holkenborg for director Zack Snyder’s zombie heist film.  The project is the latest in a longstanding creative partnership between Snyder and Holkenborg, who most recently collaborated on Zack Snyder’s Justice League, but started their relationship in 2014 with the Snyder-written and produced 300: Rise Of An Empire. The duo have also worked together on Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  2021 has already been a major year for Holkenborg, whose epic score for Zack Snyder’s Justice League was one of the longest ever recorded, and was swiftly followed by him scoring the record-breaking Godzilla vs Kong blockbuster.  Army of the Dead is now available to watch in select theaters and to stream on Netflix. 

Of the soundtrack, composer Tom Holkenborg says:

“A zombie heist movie in Vegas with Zack and Netflix, how could I say no? Army of the Dead was a chance to start something very new and fresh, which is certainly ironic for a movie about the undead! It was such a fun project as we got to rip up the rule book, and really re-examine what a zombie movie could sound like. It’s a LOT of fun!”

From filmmaker Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen, Zack Snyder’s Justice League), Army of the Dead takes place following a zombie outbreak that has left Las Vegas in ruins and walled off from the rest of the world. When Scott Ward (Dave Bautista), a former zombie war hero who’s now flipping burgers on the outskirts of the town he now calls home, is approached by casino boss Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada), it’s with the ultimate proposition: break into the zombie-infested quarantine zone to retrieve $200 million sitting in a vault beneath the strip before the city is nuked by the government in 32 hours. With little left to lose, Ward takes on the challenge, assembling a ragtag team of experts for the heist. With a ticking clock, a notoriously impenetrable vault, and a smarter, faster horde of Alpha zombies closing in, only one thing’s for certain in the greatest heist ever attempted: survivors take all.

Now while I found the film itself to be quite underwhelming, I was still willing to give the soundtrack on its own a chance. However I really should have known better because the soundtrack for Army of the Dead did absolutely nothing for me. Except for one moment in ‘Not Here’ where I like how the music comes together, the soundtrack for Army of the Dead is dull, dead, downright boring, and so on. The biggest crime of them all is how boring most of this music is. I’ve said many times that it’s hard to screw film music up, and in a zombie heist film, the process should be fairly simple: all you need is an action-y score to back up what’s happening on the screen.

Um, clearly someone missed that idea because most of this soundtrack does the complete opposite. Most of this music is ploddingly slow and thoughtful which is not what you need for a zombie heist film. I get that Holkenborg wanted to re-examine what a zombie movie sounds like but….they’re really not supposed to sound like this. Put more simply: if the music in a film soundtrack bores me, then something has gone terribly wrong.

I can now definitely chalk up Army of the Dead as one of my biggest disappointments of the year, because not only was the film bad, but the soundtrack is equally as bad. Though, as I mentioned before, there is the one bright spot of ‘Not Here.’ In THAT track at least, I like how the music crashes together in a rising crescendo that, if it takes place in the moment I think it does, is the one moment in the film where music and picture work together perfectly.

In good conscience, I can’t recommend the Army of the Dead soundtrack, but if you check it out and happen to like it, then I am happy for you. For me personally, it doesn’t work and is one of the worst soundtracks I’ve heard in a long time.

ARMY OF THE DEAD (MUSIC FROM THE NETFLIX FILM)

TRACKLISTING –

  1. Viva Las Vegas
  2. Scott and Kate Part 1
  3. Scott and Kate Part 2
  4. Scott and Kate Part 3
  5. Toten Hosen
  6. Swimming Pool
  7. Not Here
  8. 3 Flares
  9. Battle Hallway Part 1
  10. Battle Hallway Part 2
  11. Zeus and Athena Part 1
  12. Zeus and Athena Part 2

Let me know what you think about Army of the Dead and its soundtrack in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on: Army of the Dead (2021)

Film Soundtracks A-W

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