Album review: DC’s Dark Nights – ‘Death Metal’: a raw, ravaging soundtrack

An ambitious and masterfully curated exploration of heaviness through DC’s excoriating lens

The Breakdown

An ambitious and masterfully curated exploration of heaviness through DC’s excoriating lens
Loma Vista Recordings 7.0

THE NEW soundtrack album is an ambitious and extraordinary ‘first’; the musical accompaniment to the recent DC Comics event, helmed by writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo. Based upon a hellish Earth twisted beyond recognition, wherein the Justice League is at the mercy of the Dark Multiverse and a diabolical Batman Who Laughs, the comic is matched by this equally raw, ravaging soundtrack; envisioned via a myriad musical collective.

This diverse carousel of artists channel cathartic heaviness, in various guises, to an almost exorbitant extent – in wholly distinct, nuanced ways. From Denzel Curry’s percussive trap to the extravagant, groove-seeped rock of Starcrawler, each contributes a wildly different artistic facet; this musical super crew curated by Tyler Bates (known for John Wick and Watchmen). Bates manifested this first-of-its kind companion piece of original music, adding a virtual tonne of further texture and musical depth to the visual medium of the acclaimed series. As Bates describes, “…the visual aspect of this comic is entirely compelling, and resonates throughout each song on the soundtrack.”

Many artists on the record held strong connections to the iconic comics giant; many carving either story or character elements, artwork, or dialogue into the respective tracks’ glowing fulmination. Forged by Neron is Mastodon’s beloved contribution “…to add something to that world…”, as “…fans of DC Comics and the Batman universe since we were kids…”, drummer/vocalist Brann Dailor says.  Herein, their sheer momentum shunts the album into malevolent ignition, duelling guitars evoking the track’s eponymously cited demon Lord of Hell appearing throughout the series.

In Diana, Chelsea Wolfe brings her unique blend of gothic metal and folk to explore the depths of Wonder Woman’s character, through scores of ominous drone and Wolfe’s transcendentally expressive, genre-less vocals.

Alongside noteworthy appearances like Deftones’ Chino Moreno, contributing vocals to the industrial furore of ANTI-LIFE from California’s HEALTH and Bates himself, the album also features the megalithic drumming titan Dave Lombardo. British electronic trio GUNSHIP continually recalled a certain Slayer drumbeat, leading to Bates simply contacting Lombardo: “Dave hadn’t seen a soul besides his wife during COVID, at the time Robert and I masked up and rolled up to his house to get him set up to record drums on the track.” Bates says. The Slayer legend’s indomitable drumming gravitas brings GUNSHIP’s insidious, barbed electronics crushing depth.

The album also includes a rare recording by late Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington’s pre-fame band Grey Daze, covering Chestnut’s Anything, Anything. The original members – drummer Sean Dowdell, bassist Mace Beyers, and guitarist Cristin Davis – initially re-recorded the band’s music in 2019, crafting revitalised versions of eleven tracks from the vault, alongside Chester’s original vocals. After Loma Vista Records’ president expressed the ripeness of Grey Daze’s Chestnut cover for the soundtrack (especially in the emotion conveyed by the vocals), Bates ventured “…into the studio with Grey Daze to knock out a new take on the song…”, emerging with this urgent, barnstorming version.

Dark Nights: Death Metal, Grey Daze Variant Issue

Skull with a Forked Tongue, from Dutch black metal legends Carach Angren, envisions the soundtrack’s devilish, most visceral peak; and it’s most theatrically grandiose. It’s barbed, barren landscape is belied by momentous backing vocals, scintillating strings and sparse piano – deftly elevating the band’s pounding, battering-ram drumming and caustic vocals of “…necromancy…”, yet still leaving the ears fiercely scorched via death metal inferno.

The abrasive body of the album is somewhat tempered by the concluding Kissing in the Rain from Soccer Mommy. Though a lighter turn – a refreshing settling of aural dust following the bouts of pummelling metal – the track still affords a different, but resolutely emphatic emotive heaviness through emotionally searing vocal-lyrical direction from Allison, and the moving swells from the interplay between the lurid, grinding guitars and reverberating bass runs.

Accentuating the already supernatural, macabre attachments of metal, this opus from grand architect Tyler Bates and the breath-taking gallery of musicians materialises in an ambitious and masterfully curated exploration of heaviness through DC’s excoriating lens.

Full tracklist:

1. Mastodon – “Forged by Neron”
2. Chelsea Wolfe – “Diana”
3. HEALTH, Tyler Bates – “ANTI-LIFE (feat. Chino Moreno)”
4. Maria Brink, Tyler Bates – “Meet Me In Fire (feat. Andy Biersack)”
5. Grey Daze – “Anything, Anything”
6. Rise Against – “Broken Dreams, Inc.”
7. Manchester Orchestra – “Never Ending”
8. Denzel Curry, PlayThatBoiZay – “Bad Luck”
9. Carach Angren – “Skull With a Forked Tongue”
10. Starcrawler – “Good Time Girl”
11. GUNSHIP, Tyler Bates – “Berserker (feat. Dave Lombardo)”
12. Greg Puciato, Tyler Bates, Gil Sharone – “Now You’ve Really Done It”
13. Show Me The Body – “Stone Cold Earth”
14. IDLES – “Sodium”
15. Soccer Mommy – “Kissing in the Rain”

Released on Loma Vista Recordings, 18th June digitally and 16th July physically; available on digital download, CD, and 2xLP—with exclusive Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman vinyl variant covers, 11 limited edition character trading cards.

Additionally, DC and Loma Vista Recordings today announced Special Edition Soundtrack Variants of “Dark Nights: Death Metal” issues 1-3, featuring Rise Against, Denzel Curry, and Grey Daze (Chester Bennington’s pre-Linkin Park band) on custom comic covers, and released alongside each artists’ respective flexi singles. Pre-order your copy here.

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