Marco Beltrami’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a fair step-up from Ludwig Göransson’s wholly unremarkable score for the first film, but even then it still leaves much to be desired; dull themes, a forgettable style – Beltrami’s work here sadly just doesn’t come together, leaving you with an overall feeling of just pure… mediocrity.
Marco Beltrami has taken scoring duties for Venom: Let There Be Carnage, replacing Ludwig Göransson (who composed for the first movie). Now, I admit – I was not a big fan of Göransson’s score there. You can read more about it in my review, but essentially I found the themes quite bland (from what little there was anyway) and the orchestral style rather… unmemorable. With Beltrami taking over for the sequel however my curiousity was piqued once again, and so here we are. Diving right in the composer actually gets off to a pretty good start, introducing a veritable trifecta of themes that form the thematic backbone of the score; one each for protagonists Venom and Eddie Brock respectively, and one for villain Carnage. Venom’s Suite Tooth sets the tone for the titular character, with loud, heavy-metal-esque electric guitars and some rather menacing brass notes establishing his new motif; unlike the first film’s, this one has a clear and recognisable structure to it, and balances a loud, dramatic orchestral style with an overall eerie edge to it that keeps the music firmly planted in almost-but-not-quite-heroic musical territory. Eddie Brock then gets a lighter and more upbeat theme in Brock And Roll, with electric guitars once again taking centre stage in a gentler yet still rather grandiose manner. Venom’s theme also appears about halfway through the piece, briefly bridging the two character motifs before Brock’s theme then loudly crashes back through towards the end. Carnage’s theme is then up next in Carnage Unleashed, and while it is a little less pronounced than the previous two (less stick-in-your-head memorable and more tonal in style) it certainly does leave an impression; the piece utilises a similarly imposinge guitar and brass-based style to that of Venom’s, but with a more sinister and frenzied edge to it that overall creates quite a messy but thematically apt motif for the rather unhinged villain.
With the themes established the score itself opens with St. Estes Reform School, where a gently melancholic piano sets a morose yet also rather ominous mood for the opening minute of the piece. As the music continues, slow, foreboding strings then enter the fray with low-pitched brass also adding to the mix, which all then builds to a loudly percussive and rather villainous crescendo with the track then drawing to an unnerving close a few seconds later. Carnage’s ominous “motif” then re-emerges in Cletus’ Cell, with disjointed electronics opening the piece before the track then settles into quiet, moody atmosphere for the remainder of its runtime, with ominous strings and low, drawn-out brass notes taking centre stage. The short Eddie Draws then moves into lighter territory, with some rather upbeat brass and percussion setting a gently optimistic tone before Brock’s Revival then kicks things up a notch as a short and almost sinister-sounding action piece. A brief rendition of Venom’s theme opens the cue, with loud, ferocious brass then cutting through and keeping tensions high until the track then ends at just under sixty seconds long. The action then continues somewhat into Lucky Slaughterhouse, with a rather sneaky-sounding Eddie’s theme playing initially on quiet strings until the loud, menacing brass from the previous cue returns and then completely takes over, keeping the mood tense and the pace rapid for a good two thirds of the track until Eddie’s theme then re-enters the fray in the final minute, ending the track on a curiously optimistic note.
Slow, sorrowful strings open Take The Hit, with a gentle piano and low brass fading in a few seconds later to play a particularly downtrodden rendition of Venom’s theme. As the track starts to close out Eddie’s motif also makes a briefly morose appearance, then closing the cue on the same slow, quiet strings that it began with. The solemn tone continues into the first few seconds of Postcard From The Edge, though with a touch of ominous to it as a rather depressed-sounding piano plays before strings then arrive, adding a distinctly unnerving edge to the music overall. Loud, distorted electronics then dramatically interrupt with Eddie Hangs On The Line, as hints toward Venom’s theme then play rather forebodingly until a loud electric guitar bursts into the fray, followed swiftly by imposing, ferocious brass playing a particularly villainous rendition of the motif. Lethal Rejection then brings Carnage back into the fold, starting off quietly and rather ominously until loud, horror-like strings switch up the tone quite suddenly, with worrisome electronics and bursts of frantic brass then setting a very frenetic tone for the track’s final few seconds. The creepy character motif then returns in There Is Only Carnage, where distorted electronics set a similarly horrific tone alongside loud brass notes. Things then get almost ear-piercing toward the end of the piece, where electronics let out what sounds eerily like a primal scream before the music then fades menacingly out. Get Shriek then returns to the quietly foreboding, strings-based side of the score to start off with, before loud, dramatic brass and some rather unnerving piano notes then drag the tone back down into horror territory for two particularly creepy-sounding and musically atmospheric minutes.
The action continues in The Great Escape, with frantic brass taking the forefront in the opening minute alongside crashes of racing percussion. Things then slow down briefly for a short electronic interlude before a loud, EDM-esque electric guitar then bursts into the fray, with swirling strings hinting toward Eddie’s theme in the background before the track then fades to a surprisingly gentle close. The music then quietens down a little (though still retaining some elements of tension) in Find Venom, with low-pitched electronics and worrisome strings playing centrally at first before sinister electronics then come into play in the cue’s back half. Things get a little lighter in Eddie Escapes, with the character’s theme introducing itself briefly in the opening on an almost heroic-sounding electric guitar, and then getting several further renditions in the back half where the instrumentation becomes increasingly upbeat and even quite energetic. This mood doesn’t last for long however as Shriek Comes Home then pulls things back into ominous musical territory, complete with quiet, foreboding electronics and some particularly sinister-sounding brass. High pitched, horror-like strings also come into play in the cue’s second minute, which all then leads into the rather ferocious action setpiece You Can Eat Them All. A dramatic electric guitar opens this cue, with worried brass notes and ominous strings setting a very tense start before Venom’s theme then comes charging into the fray on determined brass, followed swiftly by an even bigger, louder thematic playthrough for Carnage before the track then comes to a dramatically sudden end.
Unholy Matrimony Pt. 1 starts off the action finale of the score, with a burst of loud electric guitar notes opening the piece before dramatic, in-your-face vocals and surging brass follow swiftly afterward. The action then takes a brief break with gentle strings, before the electric guitar then comes charging back in with short excerpts from Venom’s theme playing intermittently on reluctant, worrisome brass. Unholy Matrimony Pt. 2 then (unsurprisingly) picks up where the previous cue leaves off, with Venom’s theme playing slowly and rather morosely to start off with until a rumble of percussion then pulls it up into loud, almost malevolent territory for a few seconds. This doesn’t last for long however as Eddie’s theme then bursts into frame for a particularly heroic rendition, which in turn causes Venom’s to surge forward for a similarly and powerfully grandiose playthrough. It isn’t long though before the music switches up again with frantic action re-taking the reins, and the cue then ending a few seconds later on a particularly tense crescendo. He Did Not Taste Good then marks the end of the action, with gentle strings opening the piece than then build into louder, proudly victorious orchestra in the back half, holding some very enthusiastic brass high as it plays a decidedly conclusive rendition of Venom’s motif. As the score draws to a close, Venom And Blues then treats us to an unexpected but very welcome blues-style rendition of Venom’s theme; one complete with a sombre piano, swirling strings and some rather jazzy brass, which brings the album overall to a rather enjoyable if not unusual finish.
Overall, Marco Beltrami’s score for Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a great deal better than the score for the first film, but (at least for me) it still leaves a fair bit to be desired. There are some well-crafted themes here (take Eddie and Venom’s, for example), but while they do get a fair bit of album time they just don’t really feel all that memorable, nor particularly impactful on the score as a whole. Bar a couple of heroic renditions near the end, the themes don’t really do all that much. Carnage’s theme is also much less identifiable that the ones for the protagonists (being more murky atmosphere than tangible motif) which is a bit of a shame too. The action music as well, while enjoyable in parts, is also just kind of unremarkable. The orchestral style is there and the instrumentation sounds good, but… it just doesn’t stick with you. I don’t know, it’s odd – the score has some decent building blocks to it (identifiable motifs, a good style as I’ve said) but they just don’t come together all that well, and you don’t really remember much of it even minutes after you’ve listened to it, which overall leaves a feeling of just… mediocrity. For me, there wasn’t really anything I loved about this sequel score, nor I don’t feel a particular inclination after the fact to revisit well… any of the tracks.
I don’t know, I imagine some listeners will like Venom: Let There Be Carnage a great deal for its loud style and somewhat recognisable themes, but it just didn’t do anything for me.
Standout Cue: 29. Venom’s Suite Tooth
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