Blade Runner meets the Rocky Horror Picture Show, is how people are describing Repo! The Genetic Opera, a rock opera from the man who gave the world a trilogy of Saw movies that stars the likes of Anthony Stewart Head (of Buffy fame), Alexa Vega (Hairspray), Paul Sorvino (classical opera singer), Sarah Brightman (international recording artist), Paris Hilton (of Paris Hilton fame) and none other than Ogre (Skinny Puppy). With a cast like that, all performing their own songs, you might expect something eclectic, and that's the understatement of the year. The Repo! The Genetic Opera Soundtrack features an amalgamation of musical genres, from industrial metal to goth rock, opera to punk, cabaret to jazz. Blade Runner meets Rocky Horror? Perhaps more like Baz Luhrmann meets Black Parade.
If you want spoilers, check out Wikipedia; all you'll get here is the fact that this story is set in the near future, in a world where you can finance your replacement organs and have to hope and pray that the Repo Man doesn't come to get them back. To that end, the music tells the entire story: there are 57 songs in the film, of which 22 are on the soundtrack (featured slightly out of sequence, if Wikipedia is accurate). "At the Opera Tonight" starts off strong with parts for all the major players, a snarl of guitar and pounding drums underscoring haunting vocals that build and layer within this opera within an opera before drifting into "Crucifixus," a medieval chant crossed with a spooky Christmas Carol that leads into "Things You See In a Graveyard," featuring Paul Sorvino's snarling, cackling Scroogelike character giving away plot points as the chorus cries out over an industrial drum and bass loop. Quite a mix - and that's just the first three tracks.
Some of the best tracks feature Anthony Stewart Head: "Legal Assassin" starts with his intense, earnest whispery-evil vocals building to a monstrously garbled ending, like Giles all vamped out; "Night Surgeon" plays a similar game, quiet piano leading giving way to a stutter of guitar as Sorvino (playing Palpatine to Head's Vader) and Ogre (Boba Fett?) join a chorus in forcing the Repo Man to remember a heavy burden; "Let the Monster Rise" is like Buffy facing Angel all vamped out, innocence facing good-gone-evil, a quiet duet falling into noisy, Rocky rock and snarling, nasty intensity that almost covers up the occasionally impotent lyrics ("Dad I hate you, go and die"). Alas, the album as a whole feels a bit lyrically uneven, but that's to be expected with the songs removed from their visual context.
Musically, however, the CD is full of earworms, always interesting and occasionally awesome; there are many more hits than misses. "Infected" sees Alexa Vega's seventeen-year-old Shilo (name inspired by Neil Diamond, perhaps?) sighing and bemoaning her existence over alternating guitars and violins; later, she goes all punk rock in "Seventeen" as she bops around her bedroom and tells her dad off. Also awesome are "21st Century Cure" and "Zydrate Anatomy", featuring the vocal stylings of the O'Brienesque Terrance Zdunich, half- singing, half-speaking his spooky druglord vocals atop Filter-meets- Type O Negative goth-industrial noise. The latter is notable for also featuring vocals by Paris Hilton, who holds her own as she plays Wicked Witch to Vega's Shilo's Dorothy, little girl lost in Oz, ruby slippers nowhere to be found.
Favorite Track: "Zydrate Anatomy"