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Section Header
End of Days
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
John Debney

Orchestrated by:
Brad Dechter
Frank Bennett
Don Nemitz
Ira Hearshen

Boy Soprano Vocals by:
Theo Lebow

Varèse Sarabande

Release Date:
December 21st, 1999

Also See:
Devil's Advocate
Alien 3
The Relic
I Know What You Did Last Summer
Eye of the Panther
The Passion of the Christ

Audio Clips:
1. End of Days Main Title (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

12. Subway Attack and Escape (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

14. The Eternal Struggle (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

15. Redemption (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (245K)
Real Audio (152K)

Regular U.S. release. A song-only compilation with none of Debney's score was released prior to the film's opening.


End of Days
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Sales Rank: 182989

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Buy it... if you like your apocalyptic bombast to feature the resounding depth of a large orchestra, ethnic instrumentation, choral solos and ensembles, and a variety of finely tuned electronics.

Avoid it... if you require a straight-forward "Carmina Burana" style of harmonic force that is largely betrayed by John Debney's insertion of harsh industrial tones into this score.

End of Days: (John Debney) Oh, how wonderful it was to prey upon the fears of fools who honesty thought there was a chance that the world was going to end at the conclusion of December 31st, 1999. As if the fear inherent in religious faith wasn't enough to alone inspire mass suicides across the planet on that regular day, Hollywood had decided a few years before to unleash its own spectacle of horror just in time for the over-hyped turn of the calendar. The most widely advertised such film was Peter Hyams' End of Days, marking the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger from three years of absence and serious medical problems. Schwarzenegger leads as a suicidal security cop who alone realizes that Satan, in the delightful form of Gabriel Byrne, walks the city in search of a woman with whom he can produce the heir to a reign of Hell on earth. This all takes place, of course, in the final days and hours of the year, and Schwarzenegger, who had been berated for the poor quality of his roles in the mid-1990's, was praised for his attempt to expand his career. Still, End of Days, like the turn of the millennium, never achieved the promised level of interest and the film has become little more than a footnote for both cultural insecurity at large and several members of the production. One such person was composer John Debney, who ironically was nominated for his first Oscar five years later for the antithesis to End of Days, The Passion of the Christ. Both scores are extremely accomplished in their duties, though End of Days is a far, far more challenging listening experience. Debney had been one of those composers every film score fan was rooting for but who, more often than not, never received the kind of assignments to launch him to the top of the A-list of composing talents in Hollywood. End of Days was a chance to truly tap into the mainstream, however, being that it offered the largest blockbuster venture of his career at the time.

In response to the opportunity, Debney pulled out all the plugs for End of Days. With a massively eclectic selection of featured instruments and styles, Debney utilizes a large orchestra, ethnic instrumentation, choral solos and ensembles, and a variety of finely tuned electronics. With so many popularly recognized motifs used in religious horror scores of the past few decades, Debney attempted to lead the genre in a refreshing new direction. He made a conscious decision to avoid the "Carmina Burana" style of thought, instead choosing to define the satanic millennium thriller score with electronic textures, ethnic curiosities, and solitary vocals. Debney's work in the horror genre had been significantly underwhelming, with The Relic and I Know What You Did Last Summer not maintaining much identity beyond the end of their running times. The significant scope of End of Days, however, makes those two previous efforts sound like only practice runs. Debney's contribution to the film is both monumental and engulfed with sinister attitude, and unlike his previous horror works, this one captures the terror of the film with a relentlessly brutal, more intelligent stature. Recalling his intentions when beginning the scoring process for End of Days, Debney stated that he wanted the score to have a sharper edge than any of his previous efforts, and upon hearing the results, many of his collectors could agree that he succeeded. Recorded over three days in Los Angeles, the score features much more depth than a typical 80-player ensemble will normally produce. Credit this enhancement to Debney's attention to the aforementioned textures that he mixed into the finished result with the assistance of Skinny Puppy band member Cevin Key. The striking style of End of Days, with these plentiful and unique techniques, makes it an interesting album experience even if it isn't readily accessible harmonically through most of its length.

Because Schwarzenegger's character of Jericho is suffering from a spiritual crisis of his own, Debney sought to strongly emphasize the character's loneliness. To do this, he employed the voice of boy soprano Theo Lebow, and his performances of the haunting four note theme for End of Days are an excellent and consistent representation of Jericho. Leow's vocals open and close the score, and he can be heard during even the most horrific and noisy pursuit cues throughout the endeavor. The stylistic highlight of Debney's music for the film, these soprano solos bring back memories of Elliot Goldenthal's Alien 3 and, to a lesser extent, James Newton Howard's Devil's Advocate. Some might argue that this Agnus Dei-like motif panders to the cliches of past religious thrillers, and while in concept that may be true, Debney's execution of the theme against the backdrop of industrial tones is what keeps it fresh. The larger, adult choral ensemble can be heard occasionally throughout the score as well, with a grand performance of brief Latin and Sanskrit lyrics in the title cue. The last minute of "End of Days Main Title" is as close as the score comes to "Carmina Burana"/The Omen territory, and variations on the mature choral mass (with majestic, overlapping mixes) is heard again at length in the final cues of the film. The only really harmonic member of these cues is "Redemption," which concludes the pounding orchestral horror motif for the score with a faint, dying whisper of the soprano's four notes before offering a stirring, beautiful, and tingling finale similar in many ways to Don Davis' The Matrix Revolutions and Debney's own Dragonfly (both later). On that note, the struggle between harsh electronic and industrial tones, the orchestra, and the choral layers (all in a dissonant battle for eventual harmonic victory) throughout End of Days will likely please fans of Davis' work for the three films in the franchise of The Matrix.

In between these impressive opening and closing cues, Debney relies strongly on the ethnic and electronic elements to spice up the partially orchestral suspense material. With the use of Tibetan long horns, shofar, duduk, and Tuvan throat singing, the score offers a frighteningly foreign edge to the Western orchestra. The most interesting (and obvious) of these extra elements is the throat singing, which most film score fans had recently heard from the monks who performed in Philip Glass' Kundun and John Williams' Seven Years in Tibet. More so than any of the other ethnic tools, the throat singing adds a bass-heavy and awe-inspiringly dark undertone to the entire score. The electronics further the same cause, with scraping metallic sound effects and a pulsating heart beat often in the background at some level. After the main title cue, the score features one chase cue after another, with brief interludes of gritty, suspenseful, ethnic and electronic fright that rarely disappoint in the creativity of the sounds you hear. The larger orchestral pieces will be the greatest attraction for fans of the composer's other works; both "Helicopter Pursuit" and "Subway Attack and Escape" are fantastic sequences with all of the major elements (the orchestra, chorus, soprano, electronics, and ethnic texture) in synchronous union. A brief choral preview of the "Redemption" cue in "Jericho Finds Faith" is a short respite from the darkness. An alternate version of the "Main Title" cue, likely the unrestrained work of Cevin Key, features a more enhanced electronic rhythm and adorns the cue with the sounds of crying babies, satanic laughter, and thunderclaps. It would be an appropriately wicked way to end the score if not for Key's intolerable "Dance Mix" appended to album for no apparent purpose. Although the album was initially publicized as an orchestral and techno product, the only true techno performances come in that last track, and the majority of film music fans will have no use for it.

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Overall, End of Days is pure horror. Its immense volume, harsh pounding, and bass-driven intensity cause it to be a tough listening experience on its own in many parts. Its loyalty to its primary theme is admirable, and its guises in the score are interesting to follow. The secondary, straight forward pounding motif for Satan is perhaps not eloquent enough for the character's inherent appeal, but it's satisfying enough. The extent to which the metallic grinding noises will get on your nerves will greatly vary. Debney's score in the film is remarkably effective, though its inconsistency and menacing dissonance on album are difficult to contend with. It's the kind of relentless, rambunctious product that will terrify your neighbors during almost all of its length. With a total of 72 minutes of music written for the film, Debney cut the length down to 40 minutes for the Varèse Sarabande release. It has only a few breathers, resulting in an exhausting experience, though Debney's creativity gives it an attractive style worth an occasional revisit. Perhaps one of the most effective cues of his career is "The Eternal Struggle," which (at 0:10) uses the low brass, timpani, and snare to mimic the struggle of a steam engine train as it chugs up a hillside, increasing in tempo as the scene progresses and that train gets rolling. With lofty choral accompaniment, the cue's robust percussion almost foreshadows the majesty of Howard Shore's music for The Lord of the Rings. And although the constant chanting, grinding, and pounding might not entice every film music fan to the album, Debney certainly succeeded in creating a colorful horror score that stood for a few years as the mainstream pinnacle of his career. Unfortunately, with the film never gaining much traction, End of Days did not catapult the composer to the blockbuster assignments his fans had hoped for. The effort and creativity that he contributed to the production remains, however, among the most dynamic successes of his career. **** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For John Debney reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.23 (in 49 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 2.97 (in 43,789 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.7 Stars
Smart Average: 3.52 Stars*
***** 818 
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    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
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   Rapture: 404 Error
  Scott B. -- 5/23/11 (8:28 p.m.)
   Sanskrit Lyrics Request
  Joshua -- 5/6/06 (8:56 a.m.)
   angel face?
  fzl -- 4/3/06 (10:32 a.m.)
  N.R.Q. -- 11/2/05 (10:53 a.m.)
   End of Days is a great score!
  Luis L. -- 1/28/03 (12:59 p.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 40:28

• 1. End of Days Main Title (2:52)
• 2. Porcelain Man (1:17)
• 3. The Shooter (1:41)
• 4. The Tunnel (1:44)
• 5. Alley Fight (2:18)
• 6. Baptism in Blood (1:42)
• 7. Helicopter Pursuit (3:06)
• 8. Satan Walks the Streets (1:46)
• 9. Crucifiction (2:10)
• 10. The Beast Comes a Callin' (2:08)
• 11. The Gates of Hell (2:41)
• 12. Subway Attack and Escape (4:46)
• 13. Jericho Finds Faith (2:45)
• 14. The Eternal Struggle (1:46)
• 15. Redemption (2:40)
• 16. End of Days Alternate Main Title (2:44)
• 17. End of Days Dance Mix (2:06)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes no extra information about the score or film.

  All artwork and sound clips from End of Days are Copyright © 1999, Varèse Sarabande. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 11/21/99 and last updated 5/4/08. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1999-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.