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Transformers Prime soundtrack review

REVIEWS - AUDIO REVIEWS

Brian Tyler's score for The Hub's animated robo-fest finds favor with Caleb...

Transformers Prime - The Soundtrack

Once again, we find ourselves with yet another new take on our favorite bio-mechanical aliens, the Transformers. In the wake of the Hollywood films and the recent Transformers Animated, we are treated to Transformers Prime, a weekly series on The Hub, which takes place in the continuity of High Moon Studio’s third-person shooter Transformers: War for Cybertron, which maintains the look of the movies, but allows for new human characters to interact with them. And to help bring the story to life is a score by composer Brian Tyler.

Tyler – whose credits include Frailty, Bubba Ho-Tep, Darkness Falls, Battle: Los Angeles, and several of the Fast & Furious films – is a very competent composer, and his work here is very well done, if at times derivative of the genre. All too often he seems to rely on tried-and-true themes, be it hero themes, villain themes, chase/action music, etc. I can forgive this, though, because he makes each track a separate entity, whereas so many composers seem to find one or two motifs for a soundtrack and merely loop them, so that there is no real separation between the ideas presented.

Tyler does return to the original motif, but he doesn’t repeat it over and over again. And even when he relies on basic themes for scenes, he makes them exciting. The soundtrack starts out with the opening theme song, which is a very strong heroic theme for an animated program. We then go into “Optimus Prime Returns”, the first half of which is very somber, almost at a funeral march, but then finishes with a motif from the opening theme. From there it’s “One Shall Rise”, a piece that blends heroic-themed horns with darker, deeper orchestral sounds of trepidation. “Dreadwing” is next, and it again follows that dark path – plenty of cello and lower brass – eventually working into crashing cymbals and deep brass.

"Tyler won an Emmy Award for this soundtrack, and it really is easy to see why"

“We Have Returned” is the sort of track that plays on several emotions. It doesn’t quite make it clear if you should be happy that they’ve returned or afraid, and the confused motif makes for interesting listening. Tracks like “Relentless Pursuit”, “Battle in the Energon Mine” and “Dogfight” rely on action film style moments, short, fast notes coming at the listener quickly to get the adrenaline flowing. “Always Welcome” begins with a playful little melody, working eventually into that hero motif, before ending in a lighter tone. “Arachnid”, however, is an ethereal piece of strings and chorus that just rings with impending danger. “Bumblebee” is a theme for the popular character, and it has both elements of liveliness and somber tones. “Next Day After School” is a short number composed of lilting woodwinds and a real playfulness. “Cybertron” is another quick piece with dark tones and chorus accompanied by the sound of metal being hammered.

Tyler won an Emmy Award for this soundtrack, and it really is easy to see why. Even when he follows patterns for the genre, he still makes it exciting to hear. The sound is very crisp, and every low and high note sounds brilliant. It was recorded by Tyler with the Slovak National Symphony Orchestra, and the musicianship is wonderful. There isn’t a lot of down time to the tracks, which is to be expected from the genre, but even during the more somber pieces, there is a lot going on. But that’s not to say that the tracks are too busy, because there isn’t a wasted note here. Nothing has been added as filler or bulk, merely to accentuate the pieces.

I will say, though: this isn’t a soundtrack for the layman. I couldn’t recommend it unless you were a big Transformers fan to begin with, or if you have an extensive collection of soundtracks for animated programming. It doesn’t make for easy listening or background music, due to the change in tempos and emotions, but it is a very good disk, and one that I would recommend to anyone looking for something in the geek vein.

4 stars

Transformers Prime Soundtrack is available now from Lakeshore Records


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