This February, Varèse Sarabande released the soundtrack to The Man In The High Castle‘s third season. Composer Dominic Lewis, who scored the first two seasons of the show, returns to recapture the dark and epic feel of this alternate reality drama series.
The soundtrack, consisting of thirteen tracks, is a beautiful and melancholy piece, Lewis capturing the emotion and drama of the story throughout. The majority of the album consists of short sweet segments, little more than a minute of two, and are better listened to as a whole, rather than individually.
The first track, ‘Internal Frame’ gives the opening to the soundtrack a somewhat dreamlike quality, both hopeful and sad, while track two ‘Reichsmaerchall’ has a gentle emotional rise and fall of strings, packed full of emotion with a hint of the oriental to reflect the mix of Japanese, America and German in the cultural landscape of the show. ‘Trudy Travels has a haunting string solo, while ‘Cut-Throat’ adds a sense of rising tension in its racing tone. These first few tracks are deeply atmospheric though there isn’t a stand out piece among them.
Things pick up a little with ‘Sabra’, mournful and haunting but with a slower, measured pace of beat. There was even a sense of the wild west than reminded me of Ramin Djawadi’s work on Westworld. ‘Fuel To The Fire’, with its racing oriental percussion and ominous, heavy chords give way to a sweeping, ominous climax. The seventh track ‘Scrap Metal’ is ominous and heavy, with a grandiose twisted gothic feel through Lewis’s striking work with strained string movement and brassy chords. ‘Ams Libe’ has another haunting, mournful string movement, beautiful and sad, while track nine ‘Saving Face’ gives the listener something sinister in its blend of slow piano, haunting strings and military drums that add tension and menace.
While these nine tracks are all small and blend for the most part into each other, Lewis takes things up a level with the final four tracks that are much longer than their predecessors and as such are given room to breathe. At nearly four minutes ‘Requiem’ adds choral tones to the familiar use of slow mournful strings. It soars with breath taking momentum and takes a grimmer tone with the wailing choral solo. Haunting and atmospheric, the vocal, accompanied by soft strings, certainly gets under your skin. It wouldn’t be out of place with Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard’s iconic work on the Gladiator soundtrack.
READ MORE: L.A. Confidential (Jerry Goldsmith) – Review
‘Die Nebenweld’ is longer again at nine and a half minutes. It has a great atmospheric build up, with it repeating beat, ominous, heavy chords and melodic horn,that builds the tension into a cacophony of racing strings and rising chords. Lewis’s use of a ticking clock and eerie strained industrial synth chords create a real sense of danger and horror, before building into an epic, heroic and grandiose climax. ‘Lights Out’ delights with ethereal atmospheric chords and a sweeping melancholy string movement before finishing off with ‘End of an Era’. The sad beautiful violin solo is passionate and full of sadness, a bittersweet way in which to end the score.
There is a lack of consistency in Dominic Lewis’s score that frustrates at times. Earlier tracks are atmospheric but rarely stand out while tracks like ‘Requiem’ and ‘Die Nebenweld’ really feel special by their grandeur and length. It’s a solid album overall, full of passion and menace and a melancholy feel evocative of the show, but it’s probably not one you would come back to time and time again.
The Man in the High Castle: Season 3 OST is now available from Varese Sarabande records.