Soundtrack Review: THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE

by: GATW Staff
July 21st, 2011

What would it be like to be the son of Saddam Hussein? Even more troubling, what would it be like to be that son’s look-a-like? THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE takes this idea to extreme levels with Dominic Cooper taking on the challenge of playing both Hussein’s actual son, Uday Hussein, and his doppelganger, Latif Yahia. Composer Christian Henson (SANCTIFIED) takes up the task of creating the score for a world in which the stakes are always high and there are no rules. Henson unquestionably rises to the challenge, composing a score that is interesting, upsetting, and immersive.

Henson starts us off with a slow burn of a track, “The Veteran,” that is almost eerily quiet before the more commanding percussion and horn elements begin to trickle in and flesh out the piece. Almost like a snake charmer, the track is slightly hypnotizing, but never lets you forget that something sinister is afoot. The tracks that follow are of similar style and it is not until “Metamorphosis” that the pacing picks up and the film’s theme truly gets established. With an extensive track listing (twenty-eight pieces total), it makes sense that Henson took his time to establish themes and ideas, but it was surprising to hear how almost mellow the opening tracks were for a film who's main focus is on excess, control, ego and violence.

There may be a large number of tracks, but each one of Henson’s pieces has a purpose and plays to support the scene its title indicates. “Torture Video” and “Punishment” sound just as their titles suggest, expanding on high-pitched or uneasy tones while weaving in the bass beat and percussion that drive the score's pacing. Unlike horror scores, these are not jarring sounds that jump out at you, but rather tones uncomfortable enough to keep you on edge while still being slight enough that you could almost tune them out.

One of my favorite pieces on the soundtrack is “Liberation,” which features some of the compilation's few vocal elements and is a breath a fresh air in the midst of the heavier tracks that precede it. This track notes the beginning of a slight change in the sound of the score as more transient elements begin to seep in and mix with the established percussive elements.

As both the score and the film progress, things begin to unravel with the percussion starting to hollow out on “Sarrab Enters” and then “Suicide Attempt,” which features moments of louder orchestration that quickly dissolve away. The score ends as quietly as it began with haunting choral vocals fluttering in and out of “Uday Calls” and “Who Is Sarrab?” while “Malta Attack” gives us a final adrenaline boost before “Farewells” ties things up by starting to strip away the elements that had been built up until now, leaving us with just an electric guitar playing the film's theme. Sounding like a ticking clock the final track, “The Market,” runs that clock down until the last second passes by and all sound falls away.

Ranging from Middle Eastern influenced musical elements to full orchestration, trance to driving percussion, the soundtrack for THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE is much like its film counterpart – erratic, commanding and never boring. Although the score succeeds in creating the chaotic, slightly mad sense of THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE, its effect begins to shift from engaging to prolonged due to its expansive track list. Henson does combine many different musical elements, but does so thoughtfully, always taking into account the scene playing on screen and making sure any element introduced is then combined into the already established sounds. The soundtrack would have benefited from having the track listing edited down a bit, but each track has a purpose and the score is well thought out from beginning to end.

Grade: B-

This soundtrack is available through Lakeshore Records.

1. "The Veteran"
2. "Fiday"
3. "Uday's Compound"
4. "Metamorphosis"
5. "Torture Video"
6. "Punishment"
7. "Saddam"
8. "Middle East Conference"
9. "Liberation"
10. "Sarrab Looks On"
11. "Stalking Schoolgirls"
12. "Party At Uday's"
13. "A Boost Full Of Body"
14. "Allied Invasion"
15. "Sarrab Enters"
16. "Basra"
17. "The Hospital"
18. "Kuwait Liberated"
19. "The Bride"
20. "Suicide Attempt"
21. "Gunfight"
22. "The Bridge"
23. "Flight"
24. "Uday Calls"
25. "Who Is Sarrab?"
26. "Malta Attack"
27. "Farewells"
28. "The Market"

All the songs on this soundtrack composed by Christian Henson.

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