The concept behind the Dark Nights: Death Metal Soundtrack was fairly unique. The soundtrack was produced by Tyler Bates (Watchmen, Guardians of the Galaxy) and he organized key artist contributors that were already well-versed in the lore of DC Comics cannon. Bates also entrusted several musicians from our scene to lend their voice-over talents to the animated show called “Sonic Metalverse,” which included key parts from Andy Biersack (Black Veil Brides) as Batman, Andy Hull (Manchester Orchestra) as Lex Luthor, just to name a few. Based on this experience, Tyler Bates asked several bands to use this experience to channel their artistic energy into this soundtrack of songs premised on how these characters’ would have interpreted these events through their lens of their bands’ music. The Dark Nights: Death Metal Soundtrack is the perfect love letter to the complex past surrounding the unique character arcs of each of the legendary DC Comics characters, and features brand new songs from Chelsea Wolfe, Manchester Orchestra, Grey Daze, and Soccer Mommy, among many other talented artists.
One of the things that can usually be hit or miss with a collection from multiple artists, such as this, is to get a similar vibe as you move from song to song that makes sense from a listeners’ experience. Luckily, Tyler Bates does a great job of getting the flow of songs to work majestically on this compilation that ends up hitting several key highs and intended lows along the way.
This compilation features eviscerating tracks from Mastodon (“Forged by Neron”) and HEALTH featuring Chino Moreno (“ANTI-LIFE”) as well as more reflective songs like the Wonder Woman-based song by Chelsea Wolfe (“Diana”). There is also a mixture of vibes found on “Meet Me In The Fire” by Maria Brink (featuring Andy Biersack) that cautiously opens with a brooding vibe, until it finally explodes into an ear-pleasing, electric guitar-based jam that takes the song to its lofty heights.
Other songs that pulsate along with punk rock ease are found in the middle of sequencing, and start off with the Chester Bennington pre-Linkin Park band called Grey Daze. It’s on “Anything, Anything” that Bennington showcases his dynamic vocal range as the backing band rallies around his every lyric. The song ended up being one of my favorites from the set, but there really are so many redeeming moments from this compilation that are worthy of praise. Rise Against continues with the punk-based songs with their Nowhere Generation re-purposed track “Broken Dreams Inc.” that seems to take on new meaning through the lens of these DC characters.
The more brooding, reflective, and complex song structures return on the Manchester Orchestra song “Never Ending,” as Andy Hull conveys some rich and raw emotion in his vocals that unfold much like a detailed comic book character’s story arc. While the majority of the material is great on this soundtrack, there are some curious moments in the sequencing like “Bad Luck” by Denzel Curry featuring PlayThatBoiZay with some abrasive sounding vocals that are rapped over a repetitious beat. “Skull With a Forked Tongue” brings more of the “death metal” feel back to the forefront with some impressive drumming and brazen, punishing vocals from Carach Angren. The middle part of the song features some faint orchestral moments that allow for the song to sound bigger than life.
The latter stages of the album feature some electronica-tinged songs from GUNSHIP with “Berserker” mixed with more down-trodden toned songs like “Stone Cold Earth” by Show Me the Body and IDLES “Sodium.” Things close out on the right foot with a great new song by Soccer Mommy called “Kissing in the Rain.” The haunting closing verse of, “Baby, it’s all right / You can leave me for the night / Oh, I know I’m more than you had bargained for / Give it to me straight / Are you going to make me break? / Do you think I’m all you ever wanted to find?” leaves the listener with some questions to ponder over as they think about everything that came before it.
While the physical version of the soundtrack has yet to be released, the Apple Music version of this soundtrack features some really cool interactive visuals to pair with the songs found on the soundtrack. The vinyl version includes a vibrant cover perfect for any DC Comics or comic book fan in general, and also comes with a nice fold-out poster. While some of the songs found on this compilation may not be for everyone’s music taste, there’s still plenty of great songs to choose from here.