Universal Soldier - The Return


Trauma Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Normally, when I receive a soundtrack to review, I'm at a disadvantage because I haven't seen the movie. In the case of Universal Soldier - The Return, I have a good excuse - the movie isn't out in the theaters yet! (The movie is scheduled to open on August 20.)

You'd almost expect any soundtrack to a movie featuring professional wrestler Bill Goldberg to be filled with good hard rock and heavy metal. And while there are some good (and even surprising) performances on this disc, there are also some major disappointments. It's kind of like walking in a minefield; things feel good until you make that one bad step.

The most notable inclusion on this disc is "Crush 'Em," the latest track from Megadeth, and a track from their upcoming album. Dave Mustaine and crew go for a new sound on this song - and, unfortunately, it's not a great move for Megadeth. Sure, I realize that any band that has been around for over 15 years has to change and adapt as they get older, but when compared to what they recorded for my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Cryptic Writings, "Crush 'Em" sounds like a leftover track.

One of the more pleasant surprises comes from The Flys, a band that I hadn't discovered until hearing their rendition of Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train". (Only one complaint: the song isn't allowed to finish by going into the third verse. Sorry, but I'm a purist at heart.) The true-to-form rendition, as well as the amazing harmonies, make me very curious about this band - and something tells me I'll be picking up their album for my own enjoyment very soon.

The Clay People - one of the more exciting acts to come out of the industrial metal category over the last 18 months - is always a welcome addition to a soundtrack, but while I love the track "Awake," couldn't someone have selected a different track? (The same song was featured in Dee Snider's horror movie Strangeland.) Another pleasant addition to this soundtrack is Static-X's "Bled For Days"; this band is one worth watching in the very near future. I truly think they're onto something.

With all the wonderful surprises and inclusions on Universal Soldier - The Return, there are some rather ho-hum moments as well. For one, Anthrax is a band who have had some great songs over the years; why choose one from their neutron-bomb Stomp 442 for this disc ("Fueled")? In another vein, Gwar is not a band I would call one of my favorites; I heard their album America Will Be Destroyed and almost lost my lunch. Yet, their inclusion on this disc, "Saddam A Go-Go," is almost, well... tame.

A few other bands on this disc were okay, but I didn't hear anything special in their performances to merit pulling them out for major mention. Some of these bands included One Minute Warning ("Remain Calm"), Jact ("Magic #3") and D Generation ("Hatred").

Universal Soldier - The Return has some moments that will make you proud to be a rocker, as well as some moments that will have you scrambling for the nearest foxhole. It's worth checking out - but tread lightly.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Trauma Records, and is used for informational purposes only.