You have to worry about a score where the composer explicitly thanks his speakers and Korg Keyboard on the packaging of the album. I suspect he was obliged to by the respective companies, but it does make one consider the role of synthetic aids (not to mention orchestrators who seem to do more and more work in actually fleshing out the music than they ever used to) for writing scores these days. I find it somewhat surprising that some people were beside themselves with happiness when they discovered Trevor Rabin was scoring Rennie Harlin's enjoyable, scary and often very amusing shark thriller. I can't honestly say that I noticed the music much in the film, Harlin's directing seemed to keep the suspense going and the music merely mirrored it. This is not to suggest that Steven Spielberg couldn't sustain the suspense in Jaws; Williams' classic score suggested the shark due to limitations on how much of the creature could be shown. Here, Harlin can of course show the sharks much and often, but still makes them pretty terrifying even if the enclosed shadowy corridors are more akin to Aliens than Jaws.
As all the best scores do, this album starts with the finale, Aftermath which is a fairly lame variant on Rabin's 'stirring' anthem from Armageddon. It actually sounds more like sub-standard Randy Edelman trying to do heroic, but just coming off as vacuous. For better or worse, Rabin's skills as a rock guitarist at least allowed him to add guitars to Armageddon to give some identity, here it's stripped backed to an insipid mixture of synths, orchestra and choir - the latter an addition bound to perk up even the most lame material, which it does, just about. The first few tracks repeat Rabin's main theme and only during the end of Journey does any kind of action come through. Journey does actually have a few promising moments and even though it's huge overkill dramatically, with the banging and crashing along with choral additions suggesting a couple of good ideas trying to escape. However, the blasting of percussion and over the top orchestral thrashing overtake any kind of sensibility and simply reduce the music to its most purile level of fast and loud equals action and loud sometimes equals suspense and slow equals noble. Perhaps the only genuinely effective shock moment occurs in Experiment which after a slow build is cut through with a shrill outburst - not very original I grant you, but effective none the less. That particular scene in the film was actually fairly shocking on its own, but Rabin actually seems to have captured the terror for that fleeting moment.
While not an unremitting disaster, action/horror scores cannot simply rely on visceral impact alone and unfortunately Rabin simply throws everything he can think of into the mix. Although James Horner's Aliens score was pretty over the top, his technique and bravura orchestration were exemplary and cues had a sense of direction and purpose, something which Deep Blue Sea is sorely lacking. For an action score, it is depressing to note that the most interesting idea is during Hunting in Packs which isn't action at all, but a pseudo Vangelis-Philip Glass ethereal cue with synth/sampled whale song. Even then, the whalesong idea was used by Jerry Goldsmith in his admittedly pretty unexciting score to Leviathon - which was a dreadful film and didn't get a particularly outstanding Goldsmith score. At least Rabin has a half decent thriller, it's just a shame he just doesn't know what to do with it. If Jerry had scored this and Rabin Leviathon, they would have got films worthy of their talents. Not a disappointing score, just one that was as below mediocre as expected.