by Dan Goldwasser
With that said, I had the opportunity to get my hands on the promo - yes, there is a promo - of the score to ARMAGEDDON, by Trevor Rabin. The film contained well over 110 minutes of music, and this promo CD is rather short in comparison - only 30 minutes long, with 8 tracks. The reason this is so short is a mystery - part of which can be explained by the fact that the CD contains music solely written by Trevor Rabin, and none of the music by Harry Gregson-Williams. (After all, it's a promo for Rabin, so it should be just his work.)
As is expected with Trevor Rabin, there is some great guitar work - no doubt performed by the man himself - but part of the time it seemed improvised, and without much form. But there is a main theme, and it's a powerful one - evoking images of patriotism, heroism, etc. The music for the oil drillers is a country rock riff, with a guitar and harmonica - definitely providing the appropriate blue-collar worker feel to the scenes. A nice romantic theme for AJ and Grace is interesting because of the slight Irish edge to it. I had been told that the reason for this was due to the success of TITANIC - people would hear this Irish theme and "relive" the emotions they had with TITANIC - except it would be on ARMAGEDDON. I wasn't the only one who noticed this - many people seemed to note it as well.
Some of the orchestrations are not as full as they could have been, and this is a weakness. I'm sure that as Rabin becomes more and more adept at scoring for film (remember, this is really his fourth film), things will flesh out. Technically, the CD is pretty bad - it seems to be recorded very low - even worse than the MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING Academy promo which was released last year. (Those that remember than one will have a lot to complain about!) There are no liner notes, but the CD has a nice silkscreen. The inclusion of a track listing is also a nice touch (it's not uncommon for official promos to be lacking covers or track listings).
Overall ARMAGEDDON contains a pretty good score with a great theme, but it falls into the Media Ventures cliche more times than not. While I enjoy their "percussionistic" style, I think it might be better for new composers to branch out into their own styles. But since it's hard to come up with a theme nowadays, it's always refreshing when the theme is so good that you can leave the theater humming it. It seems to be a rare occurrence when that happens, which is a shame, but ARMAGEDDON at least succeeds on that point.