Like a Kryptonian prison ship on the horizon, you can spot a Hans Zimmer track a mile off. Or rather, hear it a mile off.
Not simply because his work usually throttles toward the bombastic, percussive end of movie scores (think Inception‘s ‘Mombasa’ or Batman Begins‘ ‘Molossus’), but because Zimmer has such a distinctive composition signature. And that signature is writ bold – John Hancock style – in his work on Man of Steel, as he unleashes his most energetic score to date.
You’d have thought Supes’ powers were all percussion based given what Zimmer has produced here. He wields the powerful sounds of the orchestra like a top brass general steering a UAV drone toward its target. That target being a big heap of drums.
Oh the drums. Not one track is free of them. Zimmer used 12 (highly proficient) drummers to create Man of Steel‘s soundtrack and you can really tell. At times it’s almost overwhelmingly noisome; a rhythmic grumble and thump that once or twice flies close to monotony. And yet just when you think your ears have malfunctioned, something creeps in that reminds you of what a delicate touch he can have, and that the man who scored ‘This Land’ from The Lion King, or the theme tune to The Pacific, is still there, under all those ruddy drums.
But Man of Steel is a great big caped juggernaut of a movie, and it demands music that represents its crash, bang, and wallop. Hans Zimmer has certainly provided that. It’s as dramatic as it is drum-atic.
So, we’ve picked our 5 favourite tracks from the album. Brace yourself. Here. Come. The. Drums!
Just as some genuine emotions get chance to play out amid the exploding planets and collapsing buildings, so ‘If you love these people’ is a quick pause for breath and to cool those smoking drumsticks. In ‘Krypton’s Last’ a mournful violin temporarily emerges from the sturm und drang of synth. Take a moment to appreciate it’s the beauty of its solitary sound, before everything rolls back into hyper-noise.
‘This is madness!’
Nuttin’ but percussion here, as the regimented military beat of what sounds like an entire platoon of drums suddenly explodes into a storm of ferocious pounding rhythms that change and bounce off one another for a full 3 and a half minutes in an amazing display off improvisation. Three and a half minutes of pure drumsmanship. Listen to it too often and it might drive you to madness.
‘If you love these people’
Strongly reminiscent of Zimmer’s scores for King Arthur and Batman Begins (there’s even something very similar to the wing-flap sound of the Bat films – which seems oddly prophetic now…), ‘If you love these people’ combines a furious tempo with some stirring chorals and an electric guitar for a piece that whips itself up into a frenzy of summertime blockbuster excitement.
‘What are you going to do when you’re not saving the world?’
An unwieldy name for what is essentially ‘Superman’s Theme’. Here Zimmer takes all the little musical cues he’s scattered throughout the previous tracks – the simple piano notes of ‘This is Clark Kent’, the rising majesty of ‘Look to the Stars’, the guitar and drums of ‘Flight’ – and ties them together with soaring strings and horns into a theme that’s bold, soaring, hopeful, and adventurous. In short, everything that Superman should be.
‘Man of Steel: Hans’ Original Sketchbook’ (Deluxe Edition only)
It really is worth shelling out the extra coppers for the Deluxe Edition, as you get an entire CD of ‘experiments’, which turn out to be more interesting than much of the stuff on the first disc. Most impressive of all is ‘Man of Steel’, a truly stirring half hour long piece of music that includes greater use of strings and choral, features a better version of ‘Flight’ embedded in it, and is on the whole noticeably more drum-lite, which is good, as by now you’ll probably be in danger of suffering from tinnitus. a
Released on 12 June 2013 by Sony Classical.
What did you think of Man of Steel? Let us know below…