I recall being fairly worried back when Shiro Sagisu was announced as the composer for the 2016 Godzilla film. Actually, let’s back step: I recall being excited when Neon Genesis Evangelion composer Shiro Sagisu was announced as doing the soundtrack for Attack on Titan (2015). However, that soundtrack ended up being forgettable and unengaging, and naturally I feared the same fate might befall Godzilla Resurgence. Thankfully, this score is infinitely improved, faring better as a standalone experience. That said, while it boasts some memorable aspects it still falls quite short of being one of the better Godzilla soundtracks. This on account of repetition and that it relies too much on direct stock themes from earlier Godzilla productions.
The disc starts off with the classic Godzilla foot stomps and roar sequence right out of Godzilla (1954) before diving into “Landing”, the first new theme for the film. The track uses a lot of string work, and is easily one of the best of the new themes. It walks through a range of emotions, from epic to eerie thanks to some chorus work. The runner up highlight comes in the form of “Operation in Taba”, an ominous track which feels right at home with the new, horrific-looking Godzilla. A few tracks are okay, like the chorus over stuffed “Offensive”, which has some great moments paired with some not so great ones that make it better suited for the film. As for the best chorus track, it’s easily the epic “Tragedy”, which is one of the more memorable cues and was heard in the trailer.
All of these tracks benefit from sounding like an actual orchestration is doing them, as opposed to some of the weaker cues on this disc like “Confrontation” which are a definitive miss and sound like they are demo tracks. Other cues come off as simply too simplistic, like the repetitive “Search Operation”.
Speaking of repetition, there is one motif that is ground to dust thanks to being used over and over again. That theme is heard on “Organization Formed”, “Intelligence Disclosure”, “Restart” while a upbeat guitar version is heard in “Opposing Catastrophe”, “Report” and “United Front”. What’s ridiculous is that the cue itself is a modified version of Decisive Battle from Neon Genesis Evangelion… a theme which itself always felt inspired by the 007 theme in the Bond film From Russia With Love. Its overuse here makes one wonder if Sagisu ran out of time to flesh out a full score. In fact, that leads to my next point: the amount of stock music in the soundtrack.
Frankly, I’m shocked how many themes from this disc are culled from earlier Godzilla scores. This isn’t one or two token tracks, as was common on the Millennium scores, but rather these stock themes account for a total of 8 tracks out of the 26 track film selection (main score, not bonus tracks). For those keeping tally, that’s over 30% of the tracks being from previous films. The music reused is almost solely from the Showa era as well. Usual suspects like "Godzilla’s Resurrection" from King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), which was also used in Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), are included, but there are also some curve balls. One of those curve balls is actually outside the franchise for the "Great War in Space" from Battle in Outer Space (1959). Now, to make it clear, this isn’t a new orchestrated version of that old theme. Heck, it’s not even the Symphonic Fantasia version of that theme. It’s the 1959 version, complete with the piano “slamming” moments heard. Outside of the selection from Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975), which is modified to focus just on the Godzilla theme, these tracks aren’t even edited and are the exact same themes from their respective films. Now I’m fine with reusing existing themes, in fact I love it when an existing theme is given a new spin like the Godzilla theme was for Always: Sunset on Third Street 2 (2007), but reusing the raw themes from earlier movies to this degree is disappointing. As a side note, the main title from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993) does appear in the film, which shocked me given the Showa era love fest that was happening prior. It is at the very end of the credits, though, but still not what I was expecting.
Overall, this soundtrack is okay. It’s better than entries like Godzilla Raids Again (1955) and Godzilla 2000: Millennium (1999), but suffers from a nasty degree of repetition and stock cues for it to sit very high on the Godzilla soundtrack totem pole. Now Akira Ifukube, from which all the stock cues borrow from his work, was highly repetitions himself. However, success doing this can depend on the quality of the theme, and unfortunately the motif used across 6 different tracks just doesn’t measure up.
In terms of the track titles, at a first glance many will seem nonsensical. For example, track 6 is called “EM20_rhythm_GZM/組織結成” and track 7 is called “EM20_Jerry_GZM/情報供与”. In fact, a lot of these tracks look like file names, with me half expecting one to end in “.wav” or “.mp3”. For the stock music, they lead in with the original theme title and also the movie it comes from. For example, track 9 leads with “ゴジラ登場/「メカゴジラの逆襲」/脅威”, with the first part translating out to “The Appearance of Godzilla/Terror of Mechagodzilla”. Oddly, the ACTUAL track title appears after these notations, rather than before. So track 6 is actually called “Organization Formed”, as noted in Japanese at the end. Due to preference, I have switched all of these titles around. So the Japanese title appears first and the notation, either the odd cue information or crediting the source that the stock music is taken from, appears second.
This leads to the bonus tracks, which only have the odd notations on them. Going from the track titles in the main portion, a possible translation for these could be: “Special Constructed Machinery (Rhythm United Choir)”, “News 1 (Full)”, “Organization Formed (Full)”, “Intelligence Disclosure (Full)” "Tragedy (Bigslow Strings)" and “Special Constructed Machinery (United Choir)”. While the bonus tracks themselves only make the repetition from that one theme worse, they are nice additions and make the soundtrack very full at over 78 minutes in length with them.