“The Crow” Soundtrack Review

Hello, I’m Owen Dorr. My section of this newspaper is dedicated to reviewing albums, artists, songs, etc. that I enjoy, or have recently discovered. My purpose in doing so is to expose my generation to music that has, let’s say, become a bit more obscure recently. I believe that the music I listen to has value, and people can learn a lot from solo artists like Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Elvis Costello, and Beck, as well as from great bands like The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Talking Heads, and Radiohead. So now that I have that out of the way… On to the review.

This article will be a review of one of the greatest motion picture soundtracks of all time to a film that is beyond cool. I am of course talking about 1994’s The Crow, starring Brandon Lee. My two featured tracks from the soundtrack are “Dead Souls” by Nine Inch Nails (originally by Joy Division) and “Burn” by The Cure.

But first, to truly understand the soundtrack, you need to understand the material on which the film is based. The Crow was originally a comic book series written by James O’Barr, published in 1989. It’s gritty, it’s dark, and relies heavily on themes of love, revenge, dreams, and nightmares. To fully immerse himself in these themes, O’Barr was greatly influenced by the works of bands like Joy Division and The Cure.

The influence of these bands is evident in the soundtrack, as it features a cover of Joy Division’s song “Dead Souls,” performed by one of my favorite bands, Nine Inch Nails. The cover is an interesting take on the song, as Trent Reznor (singer/multi-instrumentalist of Nine Inch Nails) takes the dark, reverberated sound of Joy Division’s original version, and widens it, in a sense. The bass takes center stage to the guitar (chorus excluded), contrasting the original. The intro is shortened as well, which I believe to be an improvement on the original. The track is supplemented by a drumbeat very reminiscent of other Nine Inch Nails tracks like “Head Like a Hole” and “Wish,” showing how Reznor marks this one as his own. I admit that I’m a bit biased with my love for this cover, as I always enjoy seeing Reznor embrace his roots in New Wave, as he got his start as a member of the late 80’s pop group Slam Bamboo.

The Cure also wrote an original song for the soundtrack, “Burn,” written at the request of James O’Barr. The song echoes the tragedy of the comic book, complete with Robert Smith’s eerie vocals. The lyrics feature several nods to the comic book, like the repeated phrase “dream the crow black dream,” which hardly needs explanation. It’s a song by The Cure, through and through. It features two layered guitar parts: one lead part which plays a simple riff throughout the song, as well as the solo, and a more subdued tremolo rhythm part. The lead make use of Robert Smith’s signature chorus effect, courtesy of the highly underrated Roland JC-120 amplifier. However, once again, the bass takes center stage, introducing the song and adding a level of weight to it. This song doesn’t get enough time to play in the film, and it’s worth a listen on its own. It’s also pretty easy to play that lead part on guitar… If only I could convince my band to play it for the talent show.

Those two tracks are the songs that mean the most to me on the soundtrack, mostly because New Wave is the kind of music I listen to on the daily, and Joy Division and The Cure are always on my playlists. That’s not to say that the rest of the songs on the soundtrack aren’t worth listening to, because I love listening to this entire album, and I encourage you to do the same.

So, all-in-all, it’s a great album. I do feel that the tracks could’ve been used more in the film, as some songs only appeared for a few seconds. But when you listen to the soundtrack on its own, or even while reading James O’Barr’s original comic book, the dark, anger-fueled tracks can flow with an intensity that could only come from a film and a book which equal it.