A lot of people either hate this score or love it and I can understand why: Like the film itself it's a polarizing release. I personally was riveted by the film and score after a few listens.
I always think the context to which a score is recorded is important to remember when rating it's quality. Often composers are given limited time, money and resources which obviously has a massive effect on the overall product and Horner was in short supply of all 3 when he recorded Apocalypto. Although Horner plagarises himself and others to a daring extent I think he did a commendable job with Apocalypto. The bulk of the score is made up of predominantly synths, percussion, pan flutes/pipes and the work of solo artist Rahat Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan whose unbelievable voice is the defining instrument in Apocalypto. It's his aggressive, chanting, growling work that I suspect is what puts most people off. Right near the start of the album in `Tapir Hunt' for example, Rahat's aggressive throat noises sounds like he's coughing up a pack of cigarettes. Despite this it works incredibly well on film during the actual tapir hunt scene.
This is more a `mood' score than symphonic work. Similar to Horners other score for A New World he incorporates bird noises and rainforest sounds in the bookend tracks `From the Forest...' and `To the Forest...' Highlights include `Holcane Attack', `The Games and Escape', `Civilizations Brought by the Sea' and the forementioned `To the Forest,'
Be careful you know what you're purchasing if you buy this score. A friend of mine lent me his copy so perhaps the fact I didn't pay for mine has a bearing on my review. It's by no means an easy listen initially but persistance pays for this impressively raw and aggressive feat none the less. More importantly it's original, which can't be said for many other Horner efforts