It's a surprising thing to see an album sequenced like this. Mondo missed a big opportunity with the Army of Darkness vinyl release. The label could have corrected something, which had bugged me on the prior compact disc release of this score: namely, the fact that it's not at all in any kind of sequential order.
The entire point, for this reviewer, is that a score should tell a story. In some cases, the score can work as a stand-alone album, but even then, the idea is that the music follows some sort of arc – whether narrative or otherwise – that allows it to exist independent of the film. The entire point of listening to film scores is that one enjoys the music and receives pleasure from hearing them, and sorting the music into what seems like random order doesn't do much for anyone.
That's a ridiculous quibble when one considers the fact that the music is still fantastic. The way by which composer Joseph LoDuca transitioned from the backwoods horror meets gothic music of the first two Evil Dead films, to this rather medieval sword-and-sorcery motif is nothing at which to turn up one's nose. When LoDuca combines those concepts, as in something like “The Pit,” it becomes wonderful.
There's exactly one moment on these two LPs that stands out specifically, and that's “Soul Swallower.” Its duration of less than a minute manages to encompass both the horror and action elements, as well as just a touch of electronic flourish. It's a legitimately unsettling experience, and works so well, one wonders as to why we've not heard more of this from the composer. It's a perfect summation of what works well in this context, and once you've heard it divorced from the film, you'll be unable to shake it.
The coherence of the score comes together more on the second LP, wherein there are so many tracks related to the final battle that to divvy them up would result in pure and utter chaos. One could almost argue that Danny Elfman's “March of the Dead” theme becomes a bit less distracting in this context, being as how the tracks are still slightly out of order, allowing it to sneak in, rather than sitting atop them all as a “hey, look: famous composer, here!” sort of moment.
As it is, this is a fantastic presentation, both aurally and visually, for Joseph DoLoca's Army of Darkness score. From Richey Beckett's excellent art to the colored vinyl, this is really something that stands out as a superior product. There's a little surface noise on the LPs during the quieter moments, but for the most part, this is a sonically dynamic two-LP set. The swirled blue and black are eerily appropriate to the music on them, and the jacket's a super-solid means of holding everything together. It needs to be this hefty to contain the two heavy-duty LPs. The cutout mini Ashes are a nice little touch, too, if a bit difficult to keep track of.
ARMY OF DARKNESS (1993) / COMPOSERS: JOSEPH DOLUCA & DANNY ELFMAN / LABEL: MONDO / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW