Review Summary: Chaotic, feverish, impassioned.
Perhaps one of the greatest qualities about Dave Porter’s first volume of score music for Breaking Bad
was its unique position of acting as a sort of compilation album of music from all five of the show’s seasons. In this way, the music on the album chronicled the show’s prolonged descent into the darkest depths of contemporary drama--as well as Dave Porter’s growth as a composer for the show along with it. As the highlighted cues through every season became increasingly darker until Porter’s signature unsettling tone was achieved, there was a kind of evolutionary exhibit in how assured and experienced Porter had become with capturing the precise essence of the show in his score music.
The second volume of Breaking Bad
’s OST finds Porter at that very comfortable and seasoned peak in scoring the show. It’s majorly comprised of music from the fifth season, but it also collects past gems of season four that weren’t included on the first soundtrack album but were too notable to go overlooked this time around. However, regardless of the season of origin, all the music selected for Breaking Bad, Vol. 2
is as dark and ominous as it gets for television show OST’s in general. If Vol. 1
thrived off of its chronicled sound, then Vol. 2
relishes in the foreboding tonal consistency that Vol. 1
was too varied across the board to have.
Porter has gone completely full-fledged when it comes to ruthless tension in his music. The undercutting synths in “Radiator” make the track teeth-barring, and the transition from the quietly resonating and humming whirs to the buzzing percussion throbs in “Salud” is so seamless that it’s nothing short of haunting. Porter also shows that he’s garnered quite the knack for metamorphosing subdued and uneasy tracks into loud and noisy powerhouses that don’t reveal their claws through abrupt or startling means, but gradually dispense intensity before gripping listeners tensely. See “Hank’s Last Stand,” which opens with reasonably complacent ambient waves before at the draw of a gun, erupting into crunching beats as the rigid sound of malfunctioning machinery on seemingly endless repeat echoes through the atmosphere; making for the perfect anxiety-inducing stand-off music.
Though Porter shows how he’s made his bed shrouded in the shadows of subtlety, Vol. 2
lashes out in concentrated violence and energy more than enough to keep things lively and on-edge. Tracks such as “Gas Can Rage” display the same industrial-powered urgency and rage that the likes of “Aztek” provided on Vol. 1
, and “Building a Bomb” is as busy as a beehive when it comes to frenetic and glitchy electronic noises snapping about with haste. “White House Visit” begins with pale and mysterious dark ambient tones before pooling together into a grim and volatile rising strain, only to then vanish as if into smoke. “We're a Family” is nauseatingly disturbing enough to beat out even “Crawl Space” when comparing the auditory equivalents of mental breakdowns into unrestrained insanity. Though, among the many permeating and impression-leaving tracks, the epic nine minute episodic suite “Dead Freight” is a grandiose spectrum that's as mentally wrenching as it is captivating to hear unfold, and allows Porter a large enough canvas to demonstrate his skills in cues and pacing with such finesse, and an ear for detail and timing, that it easily puts him in the same league of professionalism as some of the most renowned composers for big-budget films on the silver screen.
Breaking Bad, Vol. 2
is, to be quite frank, quintessential score music for darkly-themed drama television. Much like the first volume of music from Breaking Bad
, it will mystify newcomers to the show, while triggering vivid memories of the scenes with the most lasting imprints for veteran watchers. But aside from more than holding up as immersive mood music that’s plenty interesting and evocative without visual aid, Vol. 2
clearly proves itself as another department of the raw passion that went into composing the thrilling race to the finish line that was the final season of a show that will leave behind quite the sizable legacy. And these are the sounds that rattle our cores and reverberate in our minds long after the credits roll.