Review Summary: Not so much a soundtrack as it is a compilation of boring mainstream rock.
Movie soundtracks are dying nowadays, and that's mainly because no one actually buys physical albums anymore. Even though many songs from movies become hits, they're not as effective. Does Death Cab for Cutie's "Meet Me on the Equinox" conjure images of "Twilight: New Moon" the same way that Simple Minds' "Don't You (Forget About Me)" immediately brings back memories of "The Breakfast Club"? There used to be many movies where a song was tied to its legacy, yet recently those songs have been lacking. The truth is, we haven't had a real soundtrack hit in a few years.
Now, Avengers Assemble
is obviously not going to buck the trend. Even though "The Avengers" was a mega box-office smash hit, its soundtrack is not one for the airwaves. Its fourteen songs are all by bands that might have been in a high schooler's playlist in 2007. Take some boring mainstream rock groups from the 00s, throw in a few decent ones, add some new artists, and you got yourselves the Avengers soundtrack. Its ultra-talented lineup includes such great artists including Papa Roach, Theory of a Deadman, and... Black Veil Brides. Did Joss Whedon actually think that Black Veil Brides were a highly respected rock band that would be completely appropriate for his excellent movie? The most likely scenario was that it was a week before release date, and he asked his crew, "What bands to angsty teenagers like to listen to today? I honestly have no ***ing clue!"
The soundtrack starts off enjoyably enough. Soundgarden's "Live to Rise", the official theme song of the movie, and the grunge band's first newly recorded song in over sixteen years, opens up the album on a strong note. With a catchy chorus that features Chris Cornell crooning "Like the sun we will live to rise, like the sun we will live and die" over Kim Thayil’s infectious guitar riff, and subdued verses that truly bring out the emotion in Cornell’s passionate vocals, “Live to Rise” opens up the soundtrack on a high note, perhaps setting the standards a little too high.
Shinedown’s “I’m Alive” follows suit, and it’s pretty damn enjoyable, even if it sounds like every Shinedown song released in the last five years. It’s fist-pumping, fast-paced, mosh-worthy chorus is the song’s highlight, giving us the energy that was lacking in the band’s popular hits. “Dirt and Roses” by Rise Against, however, has somewhat boring verses, but makes up for it with a scream-filled, raging bridge and a catchy chorus. It may not be as good as Sufferer
or even Siren Song
, but it’s more enjoyable than most of the songs on Appeal to Reason
After that’s all done though, welcome to complete hell. Papa Roach are still playing the angsty teen card, with their contribution “Even If I Could” being repetitive, boring and unmemorable, just like most of their other work. Black Veil Brides are still doing the same monotonous, one-octave metalcore that got them infamous in the first place, and its cheesy lyrics don’t help either (“I will not walk away… If we stand together, we will be unbroken”). Scott Weiland lends a bland, soulless, off-key performance that does nothing except but prove how much he needs the rest of Stone Temple Pilots, while Evanescence remix a bonus track from their self-titled third album that was already bland and lifeless to begin with. Photek’s remix adds irritating dubstep noises inside the song, while drowning out Amy Lee’s vocals. Perhaps worst of all, Buckcherry hits a new low in terms of bland radio rock, as “Wherever I Go” is plagued with nasally and horrible vocals, a monotonous and seriously un-catchy chorus that will be emptied out of memory within five minutes of listening. In an album full of mediocre mainstream rock jams, “Wherever I Go” is easily the worst one.
So, as far as soundtracks go, Avengers Assemble
is definitely in the bottom tier. The entire album is chock-full of mainstream rock songs by mainstream rock bands, most of them who haven’t been popular in the last five years. It may start out great, with excellent songs by Soundgarden, Shinedown and Rise Against, but past that, the album is forgettable, repetitive and bland. Some tracks may start out good, but don’t really go anywhere and just end up as wasted potential (Five Finger Death Punch’s cover of Faith No More). Even if the movie kicked ass, Avengers Assemble
is a good reminder why modern soundtracks are nothing but a collection of mediocre songs that in the end, have nothing to do with its movie.