TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY

PrintE-mail Written by Nick Spacek

Going all the way back to when we first owned Brad Fiedel's Terminator 2 score on a Varese Sarabande cassette tape, it's been a favourite. Given its pounding rhythms and electronic strains of melody, it's very near the perfect gateway film score.

First and foremost, each piece is absolutely unique to the scene which it scores, making Fiedel's score a great listen for fans of the movie. With each piece, you know exactly where in the film you are, from the nuclear holocaust of Sarah's Dream (Nuclear Nightmare) to the sadly elegiac 'It's Over' ('Goodbye').

Secondly, even with the individual nature of each piece, Fiedel's music becomes a grand work when viewed in total. Taken as a 53-minute whole, it becomes readily apparent the Terminator 2 score is 100% about the chase music. As Fiedel states in the liner notes, he takes “no responsibility for what may happen if you listen to this while driving!”

It's propulsive and percussive, and that's what makes Terminator 2 the sort of film score to draw in those unfamiliar with the style. Ross Levinson's electric violin on something like Escape From the Hospital (And T-1000) reminds one of nothing so much as those Classical Thunder compilations. Where those were classical music for people who didn't know the specifics of classical music – just that they liked big, bombastic music – this is film score music for people who don't know the specifics of film scores.

Casual listeners might not be able to explain that the metallic shrieks which jut into many of the pieces, like Helicopter Chase and Tanker Chase, add a sense of impending doom and keep one's nerves taut, but they certainly understand that Our Gang Goes to Cyberdybe makes them want to go dangerously fast.

That's what's really impressive about Fiedel's score. It wasn't until this double LP showed up that we really sat down and lived with this music for the first time in over two decades. Listening to it now, one really discovers that this is all one man, for the most part, and it's astonishing how much range and dynamicism Fiedel is able to create with two Fairlights and Levinson on violin. In our adolescent memories, this music was created by a huge orchestra. While that's patently false on the orchestral front, it does still sound absolutely huge.

Silva Screen's double LP release is heavy duty, 180-gram vinyl in a gatefold sleeve. The silver in transparent pressing nicely reproduces a liquid metal feel, and the release – as stated so many times before – sounds gigantic. It's always a delight to hear something sound so fresh and new after so long. For a score nearly at its 25th anniversary, listening to Fiedel's music at room-shaking volumes makes one realize that the music of Terminator 2 is sorely underrated. Action film scores aren't usually afforded the same retro appeal afforded those in the horror and science fiction camps, but realize that this might be one for the ages.

TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY (1992) / COMPOSER: BY BRAD FIEDEL / LABEL: SILVA SCREEN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

 


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