Personnel: Simon Chamberlain (piano); James Sizemore (programming).
Recording information: Abbey Road; Abbey Road Studios / Air Studios; AIR Studios.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse marked another upgrade for the franchise: director David Slade and composer Howard Shore possessed the skills to emphasize the horror and action in the saga's third volume, which was arguably the best book in Stephenie Meyer's series. At any rate, it was rich with material for Slade and Shore to sink their directorial and musical fangs into, including the vampire army Victoria creates to take down Bella Swan and the Cullen family; the origins of Rosalie and Jasper; and Bella's final decision on whether she's Team Edward or Team Jacob (Shore's resigned-sounding piano piece "Jacob Black" offers some clues). However, most of the score is powerful, even muscular, suggesting that a lot more than broken hearts might be at stake in this film. Shore signals danger through echoing guitars and galloping drums, most strikingly on "Riley" and "Victoria," with the drama and dread befitting a vampire on the warpath. He suggests character depth and development on "Rosalie," a virtual mini-score for her origin story, and on the moody, subdued "Jasper." The subtlety that runs through this track and "Imprinting," "They're Coming Here," and "Wolf Scent" underscores that Eclipse is the most grown-up Twilight story yet. And when Shore returns to the emotional angst at the heart of this vampire-human-werewolf love story, he doesn't wallow in it. Bella's music is sweet but not saccharine, with crisp electric guitar providing an edge to the warm pianos on "Compromise/Bella's Theme." Likewise, the romantic themes "First Kiss" and "The Kiss" are sweeping without being flowery. Shore also provides The Twilight Saga with its first unabashedly happy-sounding piece: "Wedding Plans," which closes the album by seguing into Metric's "Eclipse (All Yours)," allows a little sun to sparkle on the film's happy ending. The most restrained yet majestic Twilight music yet, Shore's Eclipse score brings a surprising amount of dignity to this pop culture phenomenon. ~ Heather Phares