After waiting for a bizarrely long time (rant coming later), Blake Neely’s score to Crisis On Earth-X has finally been released. The question is, was it worth the wait?
Yes. Kind of. Sort of. Maybe. Not really. No.
Crisis On Earth-X marks the second annual crossover event between the four CW superhero TV shows; Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and Legends Of Tomorrow. It was a pretty spectacular event, and so naturally I was particularly excited when Neely announced via Twitter in December that a special soundtrack album for the crossover was on its way. It took a little while longer to release than anticipated (six months) but I’m not mad. Not at all.
Anyway, on with the review.
The Flag Still Stands kicks off the album, and the music immediately throws us into a dark and dangerous place. The villain theme (meant to represent Earth-X as a whole I think) begins shortly afterwards and is as menacing and dramatic as the terrible people it represents. It utilises vocals and strings, and overall is a solidly OK theme. It isn’t quite as good as Neely’s other villain pieces (Reverse Flash, Prometheus) but it stands out well enough on its own.
The track then ends with the main team-up theme; a surprisingly great-sounding mix of the themes for The Flash, Green Arrow, Supergirl and the Legends Of Tomorrow. Each are pretty spectacular on their own and together they sound even more epic.
Best Wedding Ever dives right back into the dark villain theme before starting up the first major action cue of the score. Here Neely pulls out all the stops, bringing in all the respective superhero themes together as they battle their Earth-X counterparts. The Prometheus theme also makes a surprise appearance, which is great given that it is one of Neely’s best villain pieces. The Earth-X theme then makes one final appearance towards the end before the track draws to a close. It is an interesting action cue, if not a little dull as it just goes through the motions of using each character theme where needed instead of trying to do something standout with them.
Sides Meet/Saving The Building gives a solid effort with some very epic-sounding takes on the Flash, Supergirl and Green Arrow themes as well as some amazing use of electronics to create a pretty solid action track. The Flash theme in particular shines here, being easily the best of the four superhero themes Neely has created for the shows as well as having the most flexibility mood-wise. Having the ability to reflect different emotions just by changing the way its played is a great thing for a theme to have, and not many do.
The mood changes dramatically in March To Their Deaths to a solemn, sad piece in order to reflect the terrible nature of Earth-X. To add to this a slow rendition of the main Earth-X theme is then played, before switching up again to much more upbeat and heroic music with the introduction of The Ray‘s theme. While not quite as strong as the other superhero themes in the CW shows it does a good job of representing The Ray as well as being a welcome change of pace from the glum and dark Earth-X music.
Storm Chasers is the second track so far to make heavy use of music from The Flash, which is understandable given how fantastic it is used as a fast-paced action piece. Legends Of Tomorrow also makes a brief appearance before The Flash resumes, and overall makes for a very enjoyable edge-of-your-seat track. The action then continues through A Hero Falls until the title of the track occurs, at which point it switches up into an absolutely fantastic sounding emotional piece that makes excellent use of vocals.
The standout cue then comes in Heroes Unite, where the heroes engage in the final battle with their Earth X counterparts. The various themes all come together (with the odd exception of The Flash, being curiously absent) with the Earth-X one taking prominence for much of the track. There is even a welcome cameo from the Reverse Flash theme, a piece which is in my opinion the best villain cue of all the CW superhero shows.
The music kicks up the drama towards the end with an edge-of-your-seat finale that then leads straight into Disabling The Shields. The Flash makes a return, and the action continues right through until For The Win, where the four superhero themes take centre stage once again in a victorious rendition as the heroes save the day.
Overall, the score to Crisis On Earth-X is solidly OK. Blake Neely does a great job of mixing his individual superhero themes from the main four shows, and the main villain theme does a great job of representing the dark and terrible nature of Earth-X. My biggest issue with the score however lies in the action cues. While The Flash’s theme is used, it isn’t used as greatly as it could have been, and it is a shame as if the scores to seasons 1 and 2 have proven anything, it’s that The Flash’s theme can sound fantastic if used in the right way. The other three superhero themes are also not used as well as they have been in the past, and as a result we have some fairly mediocre action pieces along with some only good ones. Not great.
The rest of the score is fairly dull, which isn’t surprising given that the action takes centre stage in much of the crossover anyway. However, without a solid score to back the action up all we have is some good tracks mixed with a lot of boring and should-have-been-betters. It is especially disappointing considering we have waited six long months for an album release, which shouldn’t have taken anywhere near this long.
Standout Cue: 24. Heroes Unite