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Soundtrack Review

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Anthology: Vol 1
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


Composer: Charlie Clouser
Label: Lakeshore Records
Release Date: 24 November 2017

Lakeshore Records releases Saw: Anthology: Vol 1 and Vol 2 for digital download, CD and LP formats. Vol 1 incorporates music from films 1 to 4 in the franchise, and Vol 2 films 5 to 8 – including the latest film Jigsaw. Approximately twelve hours of title and incidental score has been reduced to around two by composer and arranger Charlie Clouser, keyboard player for Nine Inch Nails during The Downward Spiral tour, and remix and production contributor for David Bowie, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie and Rammstein. He has scored around fifteen feature films, and six TV dramas – including American Horror Story. This anthology has no fewer than 66 tracks of suites and montages over the two volumes...

I have always considered the Saw films as basically okay, but nothing special. The first was and will probably always be the best, but then the originality disappeared to be replaced by fatally sadistic set-pieces. I have no problem with gore so long as it’s conducive to a well-written plot. It has been said the best incidental music is that which you don’t hear – meaning its sole purpose is to bolster and aid the dramatisation of what is taking place on screen. We hear it but subtly and almost subconsciously. The right balance of music can double the scare-factor. However, separated from its visual source it can be difficult to sufficiently analyse and do justice to what is essentially a number of harsh sound effects dropped into a partly orchestral score.

Not enough justice is given to the fact the incidental music has to match the score and so is part of a whole. Unlike normal Rock music, for instance, soundtracks can stop and start abruptly and, unless there is a building menace, in turns both ‘shout’ and ‘whisper’ to the listener.

Believe it or not, people forget this ultimate fact unless they’re well used to making the distinction. Much of the Saw music is Industrial in its noise and sound construct, as you might expect considering the elaborate construction of the metal traps in the films. Understandably, keyboards are utilised in many of the pieces, but used with other effects which disguise their normal presence. There are a lot of ‘screeching’, ‘grinding’ and ‘chugging’ sounds which conjure-up images of blades and heavy machinery, even if you haven’t seen the films.

I’m surprised to discover this collection works far better than I expected. Whittling the music down to two hours couldn’t have been as difficult as indicated; for the casual listener the longer suites are always going to come across as more coherent: a progression of chilling music rather than short and abrupt noise. So, although we have such titles as Footcuffed, Sewer Runs, F**k This S**t, Needle Pit, Bed Ripper, S**thole, Eye Trap, and Pigs Revealed, it is Hello Zepp + Overture, Wilson Steel, Hello Eric, Just Begun Your Test, What It Takes, Zep Six, Jill Dream, and Doctor Gordon which prove to be the more palatable offerings. This is a good anthology for collectors of film music and Saw fans (Saw Tips?) alike.


Ty Power

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