Alan Silvestri is one of our very favorite composers, and his contributions to film are nearly unparalleled. When it was announced that Mondo and Hollywood Records would be releasing the complete scores to Infinity War and Endgame on vinyl, the only thing better than that would be to have the Time Stone so we could actually get it sooner – good news is that it was well worth the wait. We are thrilled to review this box set as Silvestri’s music spins on our turntable, and, trust me, these albums are not to be missed!
One of the reasons we love Silvestri’s work is that he has an absolute knack for getting to the heart of any film. His scores breathe life into the narrative no matter how far-fetched and zany. Without music, could you imagine feeling something for a down on his luck detective and a stuttering r-r-r-rabbit? How about the quirky misadventures of two women trying their best to keep father time at bay? And who can forget the little-known flick about an aspiring teenage musician who just can’t seem to be anywhere on time? Suffice to say, the gravity he adds to each project is immeasurable.
When the music captures the soul of a film, it can bring the story to new heights, and that’s really something when there’s already so much happening in the story. The might and majesty of the notes written for Earth’s mightiest heroes have more or less remained the same since the 2012 Avengers film (why mess with perfection, right?). But herein, Silvestri manages to kick it up a few notches to keep step with and elevate the eye-popping action.
These two scores have a lot of ground to cover; with so many heroes on screen, the music (smartly) focuses and shifts balance between the might and motivations of the Avengers and Thanos. Everyone else seems to serve as set dressing…at least in Infinity War. In Endgame, focus begins to shift to the side and supporting characters.
It’s a masterful two-part endeavor – expanded upon from the first film in the series – that finds Silvestri at the top of his game. His string work is some of the very best (and most furious) he’s ever written, and the horns pack a lot of punch. Yet it’s the placement of the themes that shows this maestro’s true brilliance.
Both these films give us big cues where you’d expect them, and small cues where it needed to be intimate, but the overlap of each and the unexpected flip-flop of the two really subverts expectations. Take note of how going over the top enhances and highlights Thanos’ pain and internal struggle with his daughter, Gamora, on Vormir. You’d almost expect that introspection would require a quieter cue (like parts of ‘Totally Fine‘).
When you have a solid main theme (as Avengers does), it would be easy to lean back on it, play it over and over, or give us a dozen variations (Silvestri is a pro at variations – remember The Croods?). Not discrediting any composer who does that, but Silvestri is reserved and only brings it out when he wants to make an real impact. Main theme or otherwise, there are plenty of unique cues – specific to scenes, circumstances and super heroes – and Silvestri never fails to make an impact whether the intent is to pump us up (in ‘Forge‘ and ‘Main On End’) or bring us to tears (in ‘Even For You‘ and ‘The Real Hero’).
What might seem like a missing element from such a big Hollywood sound is that of a choir. Silvestri is not known for having choral work in many of his scores – it was used in The Mummy Returns and The Walk and recently in Ready Player One in the opening track as well as more tender cues (anything involving Halliday) – and in the Avengers series, it’s really not needed.
In something like Galaxy Quest, or The Martian, or Fury, choir adds a layer of depth and its inclusion can serve as a sub-textual reference or to highlight a particular character. Silvestri’s powerful main theme can be broken down to its base parts to achieve the same effect in lieu of voice; the music can still be very effective by simply slowing things down and spacing the notes out. Listen for the last three piano keys at the end of the track ‘Infinity War‘. The softness of the ivory can just about break your heart the same way a soulful voice could.
All that said, there is some very faint choir in Endgame (in ‘Portals‘) that helps make that one cue the capstone to the entire Avengers series musical arc – it literally brings everything together. Silvestri pulls out all the stops and the result is something we’ll never forget. It. Is. Phenomenal.
The music speaks for itself, so now let’s dive into this box set which is a sight to behold – both the artwork and the six vinyl discs. We put together a video of the physical release that highlights the packaging and the gorgeous looking “Infinity Stone” color variant. Check out more of our thoughts on it in this quick take review.
It’s been argued that Howard Shore’s work on The Lord of the Rings is the most impacting and significant theme written since John Williams penned the music for Star Wars. That’s high praise, and in the last 20 years only the Avengers can go toe-to-toe with what Shore has done…well, so say the film score community…on Twitter. It’s hard to disagree with them.
But if it’s good debate ye want (trying to sound like Quill trying to impersonate Thor), then I will go further and argue that the sound penned for James Gunn’s rag tag group of a-holes has an equally satisfying and full-bodied theme and score. Tyler Bates’ score to Guardians of the Galaxy works as a perfect acoustic pulse to the film, story, and characters.
Annnd, at times, I dare say it’s better. If nothing else, it truly feels like a sister theme to the Avengers (even so far as it seems to be a reinterpretation of Silvestri’s notes) and one heck of an earworm. Further – more like opinionated speculation – Bates’ theme almost sounds like it could be an alternate to the Back to the Future theme. Tell me I’m crazy, just at least consider it. But I’m getting away from the review.
What is most noteworthy about Silvestri’s work is that he never falls back on old material, and that’s tough to do given his vast catalog. Silvestri has, time and again, maintained a signature sound without reproducing previous cues. All artists are products of their past works, but the only score I can tie anything back to (outside of being reminded of Predator or Back to the Future for more than a quarter second) would be one of his most overlooked works: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
I’ll go out on a limb to say that’s the score on which Silvestri truly learned to do action, and it’s done well! That kind of hurried freneticism is now used in the Russo Brothers’ films and gives high stakes scenes in Infinity War the real oomph the action deserves (check out tracks like ‘Haircut and Beard‘ and ‘The End Game’). Conversely, a portion of the Endgame score’s action beats are more playful – going into variation territory – and sequences like the “time heist” are made more fun because it has a vintage caper sound. It pairs nicely with the tension and all-out adrenaline in the previous film.
Alan Silvestri’s four decades of scoring films have propelled him to the forefront of blockbuster cinema. But with this – his third & fourth time in the Marvel fold – he’s provided real weight to the series and the MCU as a whole. Sure, the characters were beloved from the pages of the comics, and these films had a built-in audience going in, but there’s some real magic in the music that can achieve what Captain America (or his ass) can’t, and it’s really engaging.
There’s lots to love in this stunning release, and these works are a huge feather in Silvestri’s cap. The scores are a masterclass from one of the very best in the business. So glad film score fans can bring all this music home*. Our favorite tracks from each release are as follows:
Infinity War: He Won’t Come Out, Help Arrives, More Power, Forge, Porch
Endgame: No Trust, Becoming Whole Again, One Shot, Whatever It Takes, Portals
Check out the full tracklist of each release below…
Avengers: Infinity War
1. The Avengers
2. Travel Delays (Extended)
3. Undying Fidelity
4. No More Surprises
5. He Won’t Come Out (Extended)
6. Field Trip
7. Wake Him Up
8. We Both Made Promises (Extended)
9. Help Arrives (Extended)
10. Hand Means Stop / You Go Right (Extended)
11. One Way Ticket
12. Family Affairs (Extended)
13. What More Could I Lose? (Extended)
14. A Small Price
15. Even for You
16. Morning After
17. Is He Always Like This?
18. More Power
22. Haircut and Beard (Extended)
23. A Lot to Figure Out (Extended)
24. The End Game (Extended)
25. Get That Arm / I Feel You (Extended)
26. What Did It Cost? (Extended)
28. Infinity War
29. Old Tech
30. End Credits
1. Totally Fine
3. Where Are They?
4. Becoming Whole Again
5. I Figured It Out
6. Perfectly Not Confusing
7. You Shouldn’t Be Here
8. The How Works
9. One Shot
10. Snap Out of It
11. So Many Stairs
12. Watch Each Other’s Six
13. I Can’t Risk This
14. He Gave It Away
15. The Tool of a Thief
16. The Measure of a Hero
17. In Plain Sight
18. Whatever It Takes
19. Not Good
20. I Was Made For This
21. Tres Amigos
22. Worth It
24. The One
25. You Did Good
26. The Real Hero
27. Go Ahead
28. Main On End
Featuring original artwork by Matt Taylor packaged inside of a slipcase, the score for each film is housed in a tri-fold jacket, pressed on 180 Gram “Infinity Stone” vinyl.
INFINITY WAR Disc 1: Reality Stone, Disc 2: Soul Stone, Disc 3: Mind Stone ENDGAME Disc 1: Time Stone, Disc 2: Space Stone, Disc 3: Power Stone These colors are exclusive to this box set.
*At the time of this posting, the box set with the colored vinyl was sold out. Huge bummer, we know, but we’ll keep you posted if there is a repressing. The standard release of these albums, pressed in black vinyl, are still available at Mondoshop.com.