90s score: 7/10
2020 score: 5/10
The 90s was a seminal time for the gothic macabre resurgence that had its influence all over pop culture. Films rode especially high on this with such instant cult classics as Interview with the Vampire, Lost Highway, and Strangeland. The soundtracks to these films are, as you could probably guess, steeped in heavy music, goth rock, and metal, and The Crow soundtrack is no exception.
The Crow sets up as a classic revenge action/thriller (based off of a comic) with protagonist/rock star Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) brought back to life by a crow to seek revenge for his and his fiancées murder. The cinematography is artfully dark, set mainly in the derelict streets of Detroit around Halloween. I could think of no better band than The Cure to open up a soundtrack that strives to embody that same fundamentally dire, unrelentingly bleak landscape. “Burn” is not heavy, but certainly embodies goth, Robert Smith’s voice is essentially a beacon hearkening to all that is goth, a true liege to the darkness. Nine Inch Nails borrowing one from Joy Division with “Dead Souls” and, actually slowing it down, hits on a mood that would send any Ouija board into a complete downward spiral.
Some of the lesser known groups on this soundtrack actually do more for the mood than the bigger names, “Golgotha Tenement Blues” by Machines Of Loving Grace and “Slip Slide Melting” by For Love Not Lisa convey a grittiness and offer up an industrial edge to the soundtrack; something I feel should have been emphasized quite a bit more to rightfully hit the core mood of the film. Speaking of which, does “Big Empty” by Stone Temple Pilots really belong here? It feels a bit like overreaching and trying to make a splash with a big name. I’ll take the lesser known stuff that hits the right mood all fucking night thank you very much.
There are also a few tracks on the record that come across as hard b-sides and nowhere near the bands top tier works. Rage Against The Machine’s “Darkness” and “The Badge” by Pantera wouldn’t stand up amongst their respective bands catalogues. I suppose they fit into the mechanisms of the film, but for my money I’d rather employ lesser known bands with their cream of the crop tracks than a big name with a clunker of a jam.
Overall, The Crow Soundtrack is hit and miss, striking the mood at times but ultimately too meandering. It is a gold mine of heavy 90s artists, the material just doesn’t blow you away. You’ll be better off digging through the lesser known bands on this one, there’s some gems in that.
Written by Lee Ferguson
*edited by Danielle Kenedy