Soundtrack Review: Black Mass

Soundtrack Review: Black Mass

Black Mass Soundtrack Review: This is a review of the film score Black Mass by Tom Holkenborg.

At a glance:

Geek Score: 87.6
Total Minutes Of Excellence: 23.88
Album Excellence: 38.52%

How are the scores calculated and what does it mean?

Black Mass is a 2015 American thriller film directed by Scott Cooper and starring Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton and Benedict Cumberbatch. It is based on the 2001 novel Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill. While his brother Bill (Benedict Cumberbatch) remains a powerful leader in the Massachusetts Senate, Irish hoodlum James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp) continues to pursue a life of crime in 1970s Boston. Approached by FBI agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton), the lawman convinces Whitey to help the agency fight the Italian mob. As their unholy alliance spirals out of control, Bulger increases his power and evades capture to become one of the most dangerous gangsters in U.S. history. The score is composed by Tom Holkenborg.

There are few composer names that truly get me excited these days, and Tom Holkenborg is one of them. Holkenborg has really been active in the film industry in recent years, first as Junkie XL, now as his real name. He has never been better than the recent Mad Max: Fury Road, but he has consistently delivered exciting scores for a while. Cue my excitement when we have a 70s mob story and the music by Holkenborg. This could be great. ‘Black Mass Opening Title’ has depth and gravitas as lovely synth layers mix with the cello in a short and sweet opening cue. The music is reflective, a little bit sad, it’s mostly the cello that makes it sad, but I love it. It feels powerful, strong. It is just a teaser though, a 70 second teaser. I’d definitely like some more of that. Holkenborg knows this. He is a master of layering synths, creating moods, dark and powerful moods. ‘Boston Crime Lord’ is going further into the darkness. The first half is a bit hard to get through as there’s nothing propelling the music forward, but from around the 2 minute mark, there’s a lovely string motif that makes it all better. The cello is used quite a lot, and in ‘John Connolly’, the music takes a more classical turn. Still dark, but different than what I’ve heard so far. I’m still waiting for this score to properly wake up.

It takes a while for it to settle, but in ‘You Got Two Minutes’, the tempo and urgency increase a bit with some faster rhythms. I also love the string ostinato, very hypnotic and nice. Something must have happened around there because the “teaser” type tracks seems to be a thing of the past. ‘Aspirin’ is the first time I felt some emotions surging through my body. The long somber strings got to me, and that’s something I’ve missed so far, to feel something. Sadly it soon follows a similar pattern and that’s my biggest gripe with this score, yet I am truly enjoying it. Sure, it doesn’t blow me away, but the music is interesting on it’s own and it’s nice listening and analysing, reflecting about it and what it means. I’m not sure I’ll come up with an answer until I hear the music in context. The ending staring with ‘You’ll Be Sorry’ and ending with ‘Take Care Kid’ is great though. It’s far from bein Holkenborg’s best score, but it’s a nice and “different” kind of score. Thumbs up.

1. Black Mass Opening Title
7. You Got Two Minutes
8. Aspirin
9. No Drugs, No Murder
17. You’ll Be Sorry
18. Boston Globe
20. Strictly Criminal
21. Take Care Kid

GD Star Rating
Soundtrack Review: Black Mass, 7.3 out of 10 based on 9 ratings


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