Message From an Old Friend
Someone Was Here
Not What I Expected
What Have You Done?
Shouldn’t We Get To Know Each Other First
Back to MI6
Good To Have You Back
Lovely To See You Again
I’ll Be Right Back
Opening The Doors
No Time To Die – Billie Eilish
Next to John Williams, Hans Zimmer has been responsible for composing some of the most memorable film soundtracks of our generation. From Gladiator and Interstellar through to Inception and The Lion King, it seems only fitting then to bring Zimmer in to compose Daniel Craig’s swansong as 007. And boy does he do a good job with this one!
Much like his work with The Lion King’s remake, Zimmer understands the importance of theme and those recognizable musical stings and motifs from Bond’s history are present right the way through the album. The opening track, “Gun Barrel” confirms as much, using those brass instruments perfectly to modernize the conventional Bond theme. This also works nicely to lead into one of the album’s best tracks, “Message From an Old Friend.”
This high-octane, exhilarating track is the third longest on the album but easily an orchestral stand-out. Using the conventional Bond theme as a rising chord structure, Zimmer injects a sense of urgency to the chase sequence that this track accompanies in the movie. There are beautifully placed deep breath moments, especially around the 4 minute mark as the instruments are slowly stripped out, before eventually bringing everything back to give a nod toward that Gun Barrel sting.
“Square Escape” refuses to relinquish the adrenaline-soaked track preceding it, building upon the foundational work done in “Message from an Old Friend” and adding more distinct drums to the fray. Ultimately, this track works to bridge the gap between this and more somber and reflective moments to follow.
Much like the movie, it’s not until “Cuba Chase” where things pick up again. And this track is easily one of the more ingenious on the entire album. Zimmer somehow manages to blend Cuban music in with the familiar theme for Bond and all the brass stings this accompanies. It works effortlessly, and yet must have taken some doing to get right – especially given there are numerous brass instruments playing at once in this track.
Essentially, the rest of the album follows this same rise and fall of tension, with each of the adrenaline-soaked spikes depicting a different chase sequence, which play on the same themes and ideas seen in both “Message From an Old Friend” and “Cuba Chase”.
Of course, there are elements of Zimmer’s other compositions that leak into the album too, especially in “The Factory” which wouldn’t be amiss from The Dark Knight’s splendid album. The minor key tones, low rumbling bass drums and distinct brass instruments. And that’s before mentioning the hi-hats that do double-time on this!
The album eventually builds to the emotionally charged “Finale Ascent” which does a great job capturing the emotion felt at the end of the movie during its climax. The use of pianos as the dominant instrument is a clever one too, and most certainly deliberate too. Not only does it help to bring everything back down from the brass-dominated soundtrack, it also serves as a stepping stone for Billie Eilish’s “No Time To Die”.
This is, of course, the main theme to No Time To Die and as far as theme songs go, this one’s a decent addition to the Bond universe. While Chris Cornell’s “You Know My Name” remains this reviewer’s favourite, Eilish delivers a decent track with some goosebump-inducing high points with her hanging on different notes, showcasing her vocal range and rounding everything out beautifully.
No Time To Die may not be the best film of the year, but its soundtrack is certainly up there with the best from 2021. Hans Zimmer has done an excellent job with this one, delivering some adrenaline-soaked action pieces, somber, heartfelt moments and plenty of nods to his previous compositional pieces too. No Time To Die’s soundtrack is a brilliant piece of work and well worth a listen, regardless of if you’ve watched the film or not.