The score to season two of Iron Fist has some great thematic material, and overall is a markedly better listening experience than the first.
Iron Fist has always been a show of controversy. Generally audiences disliked the first season and although the second is getting some more positive attention, it still isn’t anywhere near as well liked as any of the other Defenders shows.
The same can be said of the show’s scores, honestly. The first season had Trevor Morris as the composer, and other than the main theme there was absolutely nothing noteworthy on the album. It was all either dull action music or oriental sounding nothingness. The main theme was a seven note motif that did a great job of getting across the mysterious and somewhat supernatural origins of Iron Fist as a character. It wasn’t a particularly good theme by today’s superhero standards, but it worked for the series and represented the titular character well.
The score for season two however is a big improvement. To start with, Trevor Morris was replaced as composer by Robert Lydecker, however I must admit I felt a sense of dread when I heard that news. I knew of Trevor Morris beforehand but Mr. Lydecker I had never even heard of (sorry!) and so I prepared myself for yet another disappointing Iron Fist score. Thankfully however, I was wrong.
The album opens with Ceremony Of The Fist, and the first thing you hear are drums. Big, loud war-sounding drums. This sets a rather dramatic tone for the album, one that is continued after a few seconds by some very Asian-sounding vocals that sound very much like they are meant to represent K’un Lun. The vocals stop almost as quickly as they arrived however as the track then ends shortly afterwards. As an album opener it works well, conveying a dark and oriental setting that fits the character of Iron Fist much better than the tone of the first score.
Things then step up even more with Danny Trains, where we are introduced to the main theme of the score. This track starts off in a completely different area, being much more upbeat and fast paced. Percussion takes up the forefront initially before a guitar then sweeps in with the first rendition of the surprisingly simple three note main theme. Despite this, the piece immediately gives off a heroic and triumphant tone as well as letting you know instantly that it is in fact the main theme by adding backing drums and building up the hero with a few cycles of the theme before the track then ends. It is a simple theme, but already far better and far more established than the first season’s. Morris had an interesting theme for his score but neglected to use it apart from in the opening titles and a select few (I’m talking one, maybe two) tracks. Lydecker’s theme is used far more, to it’s advantage.
The Dragon Within is essentially the main theme track of the album. It opens with a quiet piano rendition of the three notes that then cycle around a few times before percussion starts to appear in the background. This almost starts to get boring before Lydecker then lets out the heavy drums and backing vocals, as well as adding an additional three notes to the Iron Fist theme that all together do a fantastic job of just fleshing the piece out. The Dragon Within is an epic reintroduction to a theme I already was starting to think highly of, and the album is only just getting started.
The villain theme of the album is The Steel Serpent, and the track immediately tells you that – opening with dark and ominous vocals as well as slow and dramatic drums. The Steel Serpent theme is similar to Iron Fist’s in that it is a simple yet very effective motif, as well as having a few notes in common with it (this is more than likely deliberate, given Iron Fist’s and Steel Serpent’s brother-like relationship in the show itself). It is also interesting to see these two themes literally do battle in Brother’s Of K’un Lun, where they both make major vocal-based appearances. Because of their similarity the themes work very well together, and this is always a good thing when it comes to hero and villain motifs – especially in music where the characters fight each other.
Battle Of The Fists (Parts one and two) are the most interesting action cues on the album, although they do seem to have been split up for no real reason (being only two or so minutes long each). After a few seconds of setting a percussion-backed fast pace in the first track both the Iron Fist and Steel Serpent themes make vocal-based appearances, but sadly only short ones before the percussion then takes centre stage again. The themes make one further short appearance before the track then ends. Part two is fairly similar (another reason why they shouldn’t have been split up) with some very Asian-sounding action percussion playing all the way through to represent the battle of the two ex-K’un Lun members. The vocals return towards the end for some very epic renditions of the two major themes, and Iron Fist in particular gets a rather sombre one just before the track ends.
The Adventure Continues Part One (I’m just not going to say anything) starts off in a very epic and heroic fashion, with another sadly short burst of the Iron Fist theme before moving quickly into Steel Serpent’s and then abruptly finishing. Part two then kicks off with a dramatic and vocal-based Iron Fist appearance that thankfully sticks around for a while this time, playing through right up until end of the annoyingly short track. The score then closes out with a disappointingly dull and thematically lacking strings-based Epilogue.
Overall, the score to Iron Fist Season 2 is a marked improvement over the first. There are fantastic themes for both Iron Fist and Steel Serpent that are well established with their individual tracks, it is just a shame that they don’t get quite as much album time as they deserve with only short other appearances for the most part. This is better than the first season as that season’s main theme only had one or two appearances on the entire album, but I still feel these new themes could have and frankly should have been used more. The action music was great where we got it, as it sadly lacked in quantity since Battle Of The Fists was really the only action piece of note.
A major improvement over season one, but Iron Fist still has a ways to go before it can be put up there with the greats.
Standout Cue: 4. The Dragon Within