After the one year break with the prequel “Gods of the arena”, Spartacus was back with a proper second season entitled “Vengeance” and a new actor for the main character: Liam McIntyre replaced Andy Whitfield who tragically lost his battle with cancer. This season focused on the gladiators and slaves roaming free after killing everyone in House Batiatus and trying to find their lost friends and lovers in order to free them. Spartacus had his sights on Glauber, the man responsible for his enslavement and for his wife’s death and Gannicus, the free man, also joined the rebellion. The gladiators won this round and it was a deserved and welcomed victory. I thought the new guy was fit for the part. He played Spartacus with more warmth then the stern, always hurt and serious Andy Whitfield.
All the drama in this season was a great opportunity for Joseph LoDuca to bring more of the good stuff that made “Blood and sand” work so well. Choirs come storming in just like Spartacus and his men out of those gates. The music plays with the same hunger the characters have. Hunger doesn’t equal emotion though and I am having a hard time connecting with the steel this score presses against my chest in its first few cues. The music is enjoyable but I am looking for the emotion that made me like the show so much.
“Lifting curse” is a proper name for the cue that seems to mean a turning point for “Spartacus: Vengeance”. The choir is different here and the music more shrewd, with more twists and turns. I don’t know where this cue will take me and I like that.
The quality of LoDuca’s music is that you can appreciate it even if you don’t have an emotional connection with the series. The first half of the score works because the soft Middle Eastern inserts, the moody composition, the dreamy pieces and the epic ones form a coherent mix that’s quite enjoyable. The action is sharp and precise and the choirs, the eternal, powerful choirs spice up every cue they appear on.
Yet there are moments in “Vengeance” when the music is a bit too muddy. There’s a whole section which doesn’t take off and gets a bit frustrating even for a fan of the show like I am. Cues like “Ashur’s gift”, “He comes”, “Nothing is forgiven” might be “in the moment” kind of cues which I wasn’t in the mood for. “Ashur’s last stand” which was one of the most pivotal on screen moments is a lackluster 7 minutes long theme which rarely makes me relieve the emotions of the last episode.
I expected more from “Spartacus: Vengeance”, especially after how much I enjoyed the music of “Blood and sand”. I tried to watch the show while I was writing the review and this could actually have damaged my experience with the music. Something just didn’t add up. I think LoDuca ultimately took the music in a place too dark for what I needed. I wanted more epic and more emotions. The music turned from Middle Eastern to grunge and heavy metal and it just didn’t work for me. I hope the score of the final season will be the best of them all.
Cue rating: 74 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 6 / 73
Album excellence: 8%
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