The original Batman: Arkham Asylum game captured, by most accounts, the eerie feel of Gotham while delivering a superb playing experience. The makers decided to aim for more than just a satisfying follow-up that gamers are anticipating; they orchestrated a relatively high-profile 11-track-long soundtrack to go along with the video game’s release. Enter Batman: Arkham City - The Album, released yesterday, October 4. [This review focuses on the 12-track version of the soundtrack that only comes with the Collector's Edition of the video game, which features an exclusive bonus track by A Place To Bury Strangers]
Not only did Rocksteady Studios go for big acts like Coheed and Cambria and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club on this project, it employed each artist to bring an original track to the album, rather than retread safe, tired songs. It set out, as I’m sure most soundtracks do, to transcend the doldrums of the soundtrack genre, with mixed results.
There is a consistent atmosphere to most of the tracks, although thematically the songs seem to fall short of the uniformity hoped for on the project. Even if all the artists really tried to center their offerings around the Batman universe, an even narrative is absent. This isn’t really a knock, just one of the realities of 99% of soundtracks that couldn’t be overcome here.
There is a nice liveliness in the opening tracks—Panic! At The Disco, Coheed and Cambria, and The Duke Spirit—that gets the ball rolling. After that, the project slips into sleepy, cool rock that fits the Batman feel, with “Shadow on the Run” by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. This is the kind of high quality mood music one would expect from a good movie soundtrack, and it holds the album together with similar tunes like The Boxer Rebellion’s “Losing You.”