The Master of Horror John Carpenter returns with his first collection of new music since his score to David Gordon Green’s Halloween. Lost Themes III : Alive After Death continues Carpenter’s fruitful collaboration with son Cody and Godson Daniel Davies, which began in 2015 with Lost Themes. On Lost Themes III the mood is often more somber and melancholy than on the trio’s previous records. The album is moodier and more introspective, giving the title “Alive After Death” more heft and meaning. This might be Carpenter’s best album yet.
John Carpenter’s last film was 2010s The Ward. His distaste for the Hollywood machine has not been a secret. He would gladly share his sentiment in interviews when asked about making another film. And before the release of his first Lost Themes album it seemed Carpenter was done with the creative world entirely, being remembered as a genre film pioneer. But thanks to his creative relationship with his son Cody and Godson Daniel Davies, John Carpenter seems reinvigorated creatively and artistically. These albums have breathed new life into the cantankerous legend, and have given him the opportunity to express himself musically without the weight of a film behind it.
Opening and title track “Alive After Death” gives us a sort of mournful, Giallo-esque entrance into this album’s world. The song builds with an electro rhythm and a guitar solo pulls us from the world of Italian cinema, but underneath the song remains on the side of melancholy. “Dripping Blood” has a grandiose feel to it with lilting piano lines and synth strings. “Dead Eyes” has a real Hammer Horror vibe. Mournful, Gothic, and something I’d imagine to hear walking into a grand castle hidden away in the hills of Romania.
We got a sneak peak of Alive After Death back in 2020 with the release of single “Skeleton”. That track was a much more driving electronic track, built for the dance floor or for 85 mph on the interstate. That track is sort of an outlier in comparison to the overall mood of the album, though. Nothing is quite as driving and immediate as this track. Closing track “Carpathian Darkness” has a bit of attitude in the steady piano and accompanying guitar line. The track is filled with a cinematic melodrama. That over-the-top Giallo feel returns here; an emotional heft sits at the song’s center. It does feel like an exit track. Hopefully to another Lost Themes.
John Carpenter turned 73-years old last month. Where most auteurs are slowing things down and maybe reflecting on their careers, John Carpenter seems to have found a second wind in his AARP years. He sounds re-energized and full of creative fire on his records. He’s got two more scores coming for the last two Halloween films. Maybe there could be some live shows if that ever happens safely again. And who knows, there could be a Lost Themes IV : Alive, Dead, But Still Kicking. But if there’s not, then Lost Themes III : Alive After Death would be a fitting swan song.
7.9 out of 10
John Carpenter’s ‘Lost Themes III : Alive After Death’ is available now via Sacred Bones Records.