Composer Joseph LoDuca has certainly come a long musically since the early days scoring such movies as the EVIL DEAD trilogy, XENA WARRIOR PRINCESS, HERCULES LEGENDARY JOURNEYS and also CLEOPATRA 2525 and HE MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE TV movie and subsequent television series. In recent years the composer was assigned to a number of movies that fell into the horror genre, and it is true to say that he seemed to excel at writing for this type of motion picture, providing the various projects with suitable dark and foreboding material but at the same time still managing to create music that had substance and more importantly melodic and strong thematic qualities. I think it was his score for BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF that made me finally think that he would be a composer to reckon with and one that can easily hold his own within any genre of film. Firstly I must state I am not a fan of the series SPARTACUS, but saying this I would like to add that the very few episodes I have caught and stayed with from start to finish have impressed me in the music department at least. The scores that LoDuca has penned for the series are grand sounding affairs and also match the action and the storylines flawlessly. In fact I would go as far as to say that this series without LoDuca,s pulsating and powerful music would probably not be as impacting and popular. This double compact disc set is a joy to have, it contains so many strong energetic and action filled cues plus just as many compositions that lean towards being melodic and more lavish in their sound. The tracks on these two discs are from SPARTACUS-VENGEANCE and also SPARTACUS-GODS OF THE ARENA and although the music is taken from the same series the discs do differ ever so slightly in style and presence, the second disc containing a score that is for me anyhow more polished and tuneful, containing grand epic sounds that for me again evoked an almost Eastern European sound, there is also a more raw and near savage sound to this particular score or tracks from the various scores. The composer using electric guitar at certain points which create an atmosphere of rock music. The difference in the sound of the two scores can only be something that is good as far as the composer being original is concerned. Both scores are a fusion of both symphonic and electronic, but the symphonic elements I am glad to say outweigh the composers use of synthetic sounds. I love the way in which LODuca incorporates voice and ethnic instrumentation into the scores, track 7 on disc 1, FOREVER LOVED, for example, is a fusion of both hard-hitting orchestral flourishes that are combined with layered and forceful sounding strings, plus utilization of solo voice which is then overpowered by an ominous sounding choir chanting, the choir fades and gives way to a highly invigorating theme performed by passionate sounding strings that are supported by subtle brass and percussion, the cue ends in a crescendo of voices and booming percussive support which are embellished by brass. Track 10 AURELIA DIES, is a breathtaking composition, it is brimming with emotion and sadness and is like an adagio of sorts that reaches out to the listener tugging at their heartstrings. This double compact disc set is for me a delight and although as I have already said am not a fan of the series, the music that LoDuca has written is certainly appealing, original and haunting and entertains as just music without having to watch the series, it is music that should be savoured and appreciated. Recommended.
Read other recent reviews by John Mansell: Addio, Fratello Crudele
, The Dark Side of Light