Into The Storm- Score Review

Release Date: August 8th 2014 (DIGITAL)
August 19th 2014 (PHYSICAL)
Composer(s): Brian Tyler
Length: 00:47:32
Recorded At: […]* with the help of The Hollywood Studio Symphony                                                      *unknown
Label: Varese Sarabande/ Colosseum VSD


Why You Should…
Into The Storm possesses some strong action material, with innovation and force propelling the cues with momentum to keep action aficionados entertained for almost fifty minutes straight.

Why You Shouldn’t…
The repetition of previous material, particularly TMNT, or the severe exhaustion resulting from the lack of subtlety as whole, despite some strong highlights to be showcased within.

The sustained public interest in disaster films is one that will perplex many. Rarely do we receive a film in the genre worthy of merit or similar high calibre response, instead resulting in thinly written, unevenly fleshed characters and implausible storylines with only the weight of the groundbreaking special effects to steer it home on its haphazard course. Steven Quale’s 2014 attempt, INTO THE STORM is by no means any different. It too succumbs to the tired, tested formulaic approach to disaster films, but one can begin to see where that appeal lies. Perhaps it’s the sense of fear, the ever growing paranoia that alluringly invites the viewer in, to accepting a CGI overload as substitute for the humans at hand as easy entertainment. The film follows the found footage format (remember the Paranormal Activity films?), where the events unfold as such that an amateurish, childlike handling of an ordinary camera somehow managed to conveniently capture an impending catastrophic event.
Here, a series of storms threaten to ravage the lives of those in Silverton, Oklahoma, and follows the events of two school teachers (Richard Armitage and Sarah Wayne Callies respectively) in their subliminal efforts to put up a seemingly impossible stand against Mother Nature, and defend the ones they love from her wrath. The film opened to a response from little to no avail, however, some critics agree that there were traces of thrills within the hampered screenplay.

Brian Tyler is no stranger to these assignments; he has built himself from being able to provide these kinds of services. In an awkward way, Into The Storm is somewhat of a familial homecoming for him, having previously resurrected the infamous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to bombastic heights in Jonathan Liebesmann’s effort earlier that year. Tyler continues with the intense, raw orchestral power that he employed for the MARVEL realm, but felicitates the brooding Hans Zimmer sound well. Make no mistake, all comparisons made, this is well and truly a Tyler score.
The album begins with the title track, ‘Into The Storm’, that introduces the main theme in a succinct manner of presentation. It’s hard not to appreciate how Tyler does this with each of his scores, and his reliability on packaging a powerful theme into a likewise cohesive soundscape remains as strong as ever. A series of uneasy, eerie puffs from a Shakuhachi flute add a stereotypical air of tension, before the rumbling string ostinatos collide with the percussion patterns. A brief break is heard, before Tyler states the main theme in solemn fashion, conveying the gut-wrenching, sinking feeling well. Though quite simplistic in regard to his recent offerings, it’s exactly the type of music that accompanies the footage well. Slapping percussion, cymbal flourishes and choir add depth and soul to the piece, before a key change to a turbulent D minor brings it full circle, the horns opting to blast the main melody louder than before.
‘Atonement’ begins with the rumbling of dooming percussion, and a horn chorus abrasively rings out against a tense, A minor string section. Trumpets fluctuate between hope and despair, and the meter varies persistently, with colours of dramatic tension washing through. Wild, stomping brass makes a powerful, resonant statement. Again, similarities to his TMNT score are heard, however. Low, sinister E minor celli and strings accentuate the brooding complexity of the meteorological monster at work, and the track ends on a surprisingly high note.

Then, solemn piano is heard in ‘Fate’, as tingling guitars and slow, fleeting strings carry a variation on the main theme, and in a way, a reminiscence of James Horner’s sweeping melodramatic motifs are evoked, before firm, absolute percussive slaps signify the territory as his. There is little melodic development, as the same familial four chord sequence is used, but there is emotion within. An eerie, distorted effect is employed to avail, and some beautiful, sorrowful violin renditions of the theme are heard. A nice contrast to a brooding start enunciates Tyler’s versatility, and one is left wishing that Tyler’s body of work can boast some deeper, emotional films too. ‘Titus Versus The Tornado’ pushes around a C minor barrage of strings and taiko drums, and trumpets and brass convey the necessary heightened scope here. Dissonance is aplenty, and several string bends echo throughout. The horns continue to root the theme in, and the strings wrestle uncomfortably against the snares, a menacing brass section dominating over the rest of the orchestra. A sudden fast rhythmic movement gives way to a high string melody. Tyler also employs a gong, and thundering percussion complement a tense, unstable series of ostinatos. There is a somewhat cohesive sense of fragility and desolation punctuated by the strings in the higher region that are unfortunately overshadowed by the monstrous percussion at work here, and the piece ends on a low D held note.
    ‘Humanity Arising’ opens with the main theme on piano with a faint, distorted electronic background, and some percussion synonymous with that of a heartbeat. It’s sparse, and some delicate strings are also present, a pleasant change from the ruckus of the percussion. Bittersweet cellos forge minimal emotive response in an otherwise quick piece. The track is somewhat of a lilting lullaby in a conventional sense, but despite the toning down of the instrumentation, the air of unrest is very much evident. It’s that gentle touch, however, that will strangely spark a desire within the listener to revisit the piece once more. Alas, the mayhem returns in ‘Culmination’. Frantic strings slide under the weight of the mighty bombast of the percussion, and a noble horn bellows the theme, before augmenting it to a trumpet. A strong, appealing action statement is made near the 1 minute mark, as the thundering Taiko drums storm their way (pun intended), and clapping drums provide a rhythmically wondrous contrast. The brass section does justice in this particular track, alternating from a noble tone to that of a violent, abrasive accompaniment.  A desolate, empty piano doubles against the cello whilst cooing the main theme to an incomplete ending. You definitely can’t say there is little to no thematic reference whatsoever in this soundtrack.

‘Prelude To Phenomenon’ boasts more than an interesting title. The tonality has changed, and precocious strings and a reed pipe (?) give way to a tense chase on the cello. Major-minor alteration is evident, and controlled use of synthesised background and bass drum add a touch of awakening, an infusion of life into the cue. Soft piano tapping is interrupted by more intense puffing on the shakuhachi flute, and the cellos return. Another brief but enjoyable cue to add to Tyler’s ever-growing, expanding collection.
‘Providence’ however, adds a bleak instilment of hope into the equation, with whining violins, and the theme carried yet again on distorted piano. The higher renditions on a whittling violin, however, is what makes the thematic reference palatable this time. Chords on the piano deliver some solid backing to string despair, and those bittersweet cellos come back for another emotional cue, along with the steady but pounding drums. It’s surprisingly good to hear a composer keep reinstating his theme, but the inclusion of it in almost (if not) every track does seem like an earful.Here, treading the line carefully with balance contributes to an overall better listening experience.
The lengthiest cue comes in the form of ‘The Fire Tornado’, at 4 and a half minutes. A vicious staccato cello and string section open the piece with tumbling percussion, prior to the entry of the horns. Simultaneous key change along with subsequent meter variation flourishes in a somewhat colourful atmosphere, despite the tone requiring it to be brooding and perpetual as required. The violins slip through anvil strikes and crescendo horns to strike terror on-screen, and the strings start exploring higher regions. The brass then puffs courageously in a set of brief but effective ostinatos, and a section from ‘Atonement’ is transported to this cue. The relentless charge of the percussion draws to a close with the horns and strings dying out in unison.

‘Evacuation and Interception’ begins sombrely, with a minor major contrast coupled with a growing crescendo. Stiff, choppy string movement glides against the horns, and sinister horns take precedence this time round. A generic string glissando gives way to a statement of ‘Culmination’, and while it’s pleasant to hear these references, the gaps between these aforementioned tracks are far too short too separate the melodies apart. Ticking snare and sudden cello bursts finish things off. A tense, eerie atmosphere is cast in ‘Last Words’, those tingling guitars accompanying the now full embodiment of the introduction to the theme. The cue is akin to a frantic timebomb, ticking electronics sparsely complementing variation on the strings. There is some promising development in each and every piece, but sadly these are too short to be fully appreciated.
‘We Stand Together’ emphasises the unison of the residents in the dire situation well, the cello predominant along with a solo piano (reverbed electronically to harness hopelessness, bleak moods perfectly), and such gentler touches are refreshing amidst the chaos of the orchestra. A cunning shakuhachi flute rises to signal the storm’s arrival, and the theme’s build-up is once more evident. ‘Titus’ employs the percussive mold more innovatively, receding the brute force and optimistic military snare rhythms are very much welcomed against uplifting, heroic work from the trumpet and staccato strings.(In the film, Titus is the name of a car that the protagonists use throughout). It’s a cute moment that humbly epitomises the importance of the beloved vehicle, but Tyler maintains focus well. Another highlight.
 ‘Multiple Vortices’ is more or less a reinstatement of the tension at hand. This time, it is played out to the fore, with bleak, quiet held notes on strings and puffs on that flute. Tremolo violins and brooding cello emerge with a triumphant horn in tow. The action returns, but admittedly, some of the material for the drumming echoes his TMNT score too often. Given that the latter contained energetic bursts of orchestral force stylised with Goldsmithian traditions, one can visualise the stem of his interest in such banality!

‘Remembrance and Regret’ conveys the solemnity of the aftermath and casualties associated with bleak resonance, those hopeful strings desperately fighting for this cue to remain with interest, and to not become a ‘filler cue’, devoid of such presence. ‘Readying For Incoming Storm’, however finally drenches the cue in optimism,with steady strings and an electronic, clock-like accompaniment keeping pace. Hope is conveyed well, and the electronics surprisingly sound refreshing to the previous barrage of the orchestral dominance. The horns sing the main theme well, in a minor key but with more added romanticism. This comprises of a much better cue, despite the decrease in complexity(I could sing praises). A distorted wail cuts against the bleak puffing of the shakuhachi , to compose the latter half to an end.
‘The Power Of Nature’ opens with horn statement and sliding strings- by now they have become weary. They still manage to illustrate the theme well with expansion and triumphance, albeit the brief running time for the penultimate push. The storm then grows weaker, its final ravage presented in the last cue, ‘Aurora’. Aftermath is conveyed in bittersweet strings, and the softer tone is appropriate for a finale as such. Piano collides with victorious horn and Man Of Steel– like percussion. The cue is light, fleeting and a homecoming in its own. The melodies are more prevalent, and Tyler’s trademark guitar finishes are enjoyable in every aspect, contributing to a lusher feel, that warms the listener’s ears. Those warm, romantic strings are a highlight in this otherwise turbulent, laborious score.

Tyler has shown development in his more artistic, softer sensibilities, while the action material serves as merely an expansion of previous ideas, despite some innovation in the reworking of parts in the proverbial machine. The thematic references are the selling point, but can also act as a push factor for those seeking a bit more nourishment in their scores of choice. At the very least, Into The Storm is more than functionally appropriate, applicable in context and savours some highlights that stand out proudly.  The average listener will find a cohesive series of cues that blend together without effort, however the uneven pacing and self-referencing will offput more familiar, experienced ears. Exhaustion awaits those who invest in this score. All said and considered, Tyler’s packaging offers some worthy moments that deliver promise and then some.

Music in connection to the film: [*****] 5/5
Music as a sole listening experience: [***1/2]   3.5/5

Overall Consensus: [***1/2]   3.5/5


Track Listing:
1) Into The Storm                                (all cues by Tyler)
2) Atonement
3) Fate
4) Titus Versus The Storm
5) Humanity Arising
6) Culmination
7) Prelude To Phenomenon
8) Providence
9) The Fire Tornado
10) Evacuation & Interception
11) Last Words
12) We Stand Together
13) Titus
14) Multiple Vortices
15) Remembrance & Regret
16) Readying For Incoming Storm
17) The Power Of Nature
18) Aurora

Author: Hari Haran

Fan of films, TV shows and film composers en general. I'm a fan of you too.

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