Gotham KnightThe list of compers for the latest full-length animated Batman film reads like a who’s who of animation composition. Rather than a single composer, Warner Brothers Animation chose to pool together a roster of talent to give the film – really a collection of short segments – more variation and life. Since each segment of the film is a separate story (with separate writers and directors) it was a wise choice, giving the feature – and the score - more surprising twists and turns than it may have otherwise enjoyed.

The first composer presented on the score is Christopher Drake (Wonderwoman and Hellboy Animated). In the liner notes, Drake gives a moving account of meeting Batman voice Kevin Conroy as a young man and his mother declaring that they would one day work together. Well, luckily for Drake, and listenrs everywhere, his dream has become a reality. But Drake’s opening work for the segment “Have I Got A Story For You” is a bit too haphazard and eclectic to really leave an impression. The opening track alone, with its five titles (“Main Titles / Intro / Interlude / Punk Skater / Trouble At The Dock”) feels too much like five songs in one to enjoy. The minute a rhythm begins to catch on, the vibe changes. The majority of this first segment is like that. Drake’s work in the segment “In Darkness Dwells” is more rooted and showcases Drake’s true talent. He describes this section as belonging to the “Nolanverse” of the Batman lore and works with the themes created in the music for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. The five songs in this segment are downright Batman-y.

Kevin Manthei (Justice League: The New Frontier) is the next composer included. His two longer tracks for the segment “Crossfire” are the best on the album, boasting a heavy electronic vibe that then bleeds into impressive choruses (towards the middle of the track “Infrerno”) and then into wailing violins that lead back into the pounding rhythms. Manthei’s later work on the album (in the segment “Working Through the Pain”) is a bit more subdued, though it still manages to capture the heaviness of Gotham City and Batman’s own inner turmoil. Manthei has shown himself to be a master of animated composition, and he doesn’t let his fans down with either segment here.

The final composer, Robert J. Kral (Superman: Doomsday, “Angel”) is charged with displaying the more emotional side of Batman in his first segment (“Field Test”) and in “New Device” and “Trigger A Device / As Good As Your Drive,” he does just that. Both are surprisingly slower and more richly reflective than anything else on the album. Kral follows this up with a more standard actioner (“A Russian In His Grave / It Works Too Well”) to wrap up the segment in full force. Later, Kral is again called upon (in the segment “Deadshot”) to place Batman’s emotions on musical display. The short track “Parents Killed” may have some heavy bass, but it’s stil a reflectively emotional undertaking. Next to this track and its subdued follower, the third track in this segment – “Gordon / Batman / The Train” – all but explodes onto the stage. If nothing else, Kral proves that he’s got range.

Though all of these composers make impressive contributions to the world of Batman music, there’s something about this hour of music that feels a little off. It’s nice to have three known composers on one album, but where a collection of short films works together as a whole, music from those very different shorts doesn’t always sit right with listener’s ears.

Zach’s Rating: B-
Perfect For: Anyone with a wide musical appreciation
Stay Away if: You want some kind of consistency in your scores
If you only buy one track, make it this one: “Crossfire” - Kevin Manthei

To purchase the soundtrack for Batman: Gotham Knight, visit Amazon

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