As to whether or not Paul Sabu's music for the 1985 Krishna Shah horror film Hard Rock Zombies is actually hard rock is something that's up for debate. Given that Sabu's vocal stylings veer closely to those of Sammy Hagar's, and that the very pop - though still hard rock - track, "I Can't Drive 55" was released contemporaneously to when the composer would've been working on the music for Shah's film, it's certainly something which might've been possible at the time.
Hard Rock Zombies is certainly the least metal entry in the heavy metal horror subgenre, easily being outrocked by the likes of Fastway's music for 1986's Trick or Treat, as well as the music from 1984's Rocktober Blood. The sheer amount of synthesizer and bouncy upbeat tunes could readily swap back and forth with a high school comedy from the same period like One Crazy Summer or Summer School without anyone being the wiser.
The guitars do sound amazing, however. They have that perfect '80s sheen on them, and the mastering from Joel Grind really makes them the first thing to really stand out when the needle first gets dropped on the LP. Also, as this is an expanded version of the soundtrack, listeners get more than what's been available since the 1984 release on France's Trema label.
While the real reason to snag Lunaris' release of Hard Rock Zombies is to be able to blare out the rockin' cuts like "Shake It Out" and "It Don't Come Easy," Sabu's actual score work for the film is appropriately creepy and uncomfortable. While he hits the high point with the first cue, "Angel's First Victim", "Zombies Revenge" is an intense chase piece with a nicely eerie whistle to it.
Bonus cuts include "Raise the Dead" and "Morte Ascendre", along with alternate versions of the album and film's opening cuts "Angel's First Victim" and "Shake It Out". The alternate takes seem to be a little slower and darker, with the mix on both favouring the synths as opposed to the album version's more balanced take.
The cover by artist Devon Whitehead is perfectly over-the-top, and nicely compliments the production stills on the insert. Whitehead captures the spirit of the movie and manages to make this all seem far more intense than it ends up being. The LP comes pressed on transparent midnight blue vinyl with black swirls, looking appropriately spooky, and sounding excellent.
HARD ROCK ZOMBIES / COMPOSER: PAUL SABU / LABEL: LUNARIS RECORDS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW