After winning a well deserved Oscar for his original Omen effort, it was fairly inevitable that Jerry Goldsmith would at least be asked onto any sequel. In the end he not only scored this, but also the third in the original trilogy of films. Those familiar with the original, will find themselves in familiar territory, albeit on a slightly grander scale. This expanded edition from Varese contains the original Silva Screen release which was a re-recording done for the album as well as the original tracks as used in the film, available for the first time on CD.
Much of Omen 2 is based on ideas from the original that are expanded and built upon - the harsh brass, eerie strings, the demonic chorus chanting and jeering its way through several nerve jangling episodes. Whereas the more romantic The Piper Dreams melody broke up the grinding set pieces, there is precious little of anything so gentle here. It is that which is perhaps the score's biggest problem. One can cope with several minutes of unremitting horror, but when it appears track after track, the effect is just a little wearing. It is pretty well left to the suspense building music to be the quiet part of the score and moments such as Thoughtful Night are quite welcome relief, even if they are still incredibly eerie. Most of the quieter moments eventually end up more vibrant, most notably Runaway Train which musically suggests the very thing and in the film is another example of why Goldsmith's scoring made the first film and does so again here. The relentless acts of evil are seen on screen, but only through the music are they made so genuinely horrific. Strangely enough, the album actually becomes less abrasive as it moves towards a reprise of Ave Satani for the End Title, but the atmosphere is so tense that it's hard not to remain unnerved to the end.
The original album is presented in the same order as it originally was, but the original tracks are presented in film order. Both are equally satisfying and there isn't honestly a great deal to choose between them. The re-recording does have a slightly richer sound, the original sessions occasionally sound a little thin and The Boy Has to Die has suffered a little tape damage, however the fact the tapes were found at all is impressive and a result of an exhaustive search of the Fox vaults after it was feared the originals had been lost forever. The extra couple of tracks don't add a great deal, although the almost totally cheerful Snowmobiles makes for a pleasant change of pace and tone, albeit briefly. Although not much over half an hour, the original tracks represent all the music written for the film, which makes it even more sparsely spotted than the original. The lack of a melody such as the gentle Piper Dreams tune means that the music is simply there to unnerve or terrify of the viewer and little else. Worked for me.
On a side note, the liner notes mention that it was originally cheaper to re-record in London with a different orchestra for the album than pay the re-use fees at the time. Fortunately the fees aren't quite so stringent these days, but it gives a good idea as to how unions manage to shoot themselves in the foot. Still, in this case, we get two similar, but equally excellent readings of the same score and with excellent liner notes too.Compared to the hair raising original and the more expansive Final Conflict, Omen 2 isn't quite so impressive, but is still an impressive entry to the series. If this music doesn't give you nightmares, then none will.