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Hemlock Grove by Nathan Barr

Hemlock Grove

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Hemlock Grove (Soundtrack) by Nathan Barr
Hemlock Grove (Soundtrack) by Nathan Barr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hemlock Grove (Soundtrack) by Nathan Barr

Hemlock Grove
Composed by Nathan Barr
Varese Sarabande (2013)

Rating: 7/10

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[Nathan Barr] has crafted a score full of character, but one that is lacking the anchor of a handful of standout cues that would see it go from good to great.

Malevolent Accompaniment
Review by Richard Buxton

 

Following in the footsteps of the acclaimed HOUSE OF CARDS, comes another NETFLIX original series, HEMLOCK GROVE. Striking while the vogue of supernaturally-infused teenagers remains relatively hot, HEMLOCK GROVE follows murder suspect and werewolf Peter Rumancek, along with heir-apparent, Roman Godfrey, as he seeks to clear his name and solve the mystery of the Godfrey medical institute. With a second season set for 2014 and two Emmy nominations in 2013, one of which was for outstanding title music, HEMLOCK GROVE looks to be set for the foreseeable future in what is still a fledgling online format. The show’s composer, NATHAN BARR, began his career as an assistant to none other than HANS ZIMMER, before carving out a career that has seen him become something of a horror specialist, with previous credits including TRUE BLOOD, THE LAST EXORCISM, and the ELI ROTH directed CABIN FEVER and HOSTEL. It should come as no surprise then, that with ELI ROTH as HEMLOCK GROVE’S executive producer, this relationship with BARR has continued.

BARR’S horror pedigree is immediately evident in the show’s creepingly depressing title theme “Hemlock Grove” (1). The theme is dripping with atmosphere despite its meager length, and casts a pungent gloom in reflecting the many hidden secrets of Hemlock Grove before crashing to a dissonant close. The brief piano opening - a two-note sliding descent - to the title theme introduces the foundation for much of the score’s more expressive content and acts as a base to allow strings, among other instruments, to explore further melodic avenues. “Shelley’s Email” (3) follows this template with a melancholic and fleetingly optimistic counterpart to the title theme performed by strings. “Carnival” (5) provides what is perhaps the most interesting variation on the main theme in a sprightly but simultaneously antique unnerving style.

For a story that follows a werewolf, the time the score takes to break out the all-out horror might come as something of a surprise. “Killer Wolf” (8) is the aptly titled cue to do so as BARR’S subversion of the the ever-so familiar piano combines with tortured strings, resulting in a tension-filled yet also liberating track. There is a definite lacking of such similar moments on the score, with the final cue “Peter’s Transformation” (17) being the only comparable cue in terms of providing such release, while the ever-building “Brooke’s Vigil (13) merely hints at this before coming to a somewhat anti-climactic close.

The thematic content of HEMLOCK GROVE is at times difficult to identify. Many of the cues are at a considerably slow pace, a pace that provides ample atmospheric tension and is excellent in blanketing a fog of mystery over the score, but hinders any chances of noticeable thematic developments. That said, BARR has excelled in characterizing the malevolence that hangs over the town of Hemlock Grove. “Letha Dreams” (9) possesses an innate ethereal texture - achieved primarily through electronics - that provides an interesting contrast to the noticeably more ominous “Peter Dreams” (11). Both stand as examples of BARR’S ability to mold depth into cues that for the most part are minimally developed.

NATHAN BARR’S score is generally a fine accompaniment to a show that the composer has deemed competent enough to stand without the crutches of an overbearing score. In acknowledging this, the composer has crafted a score full of character, but one that is lacking the anchor of a handful of standout cues that would see it go from good to great.



Rating: 7/10


Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Hemlock Grove 0:52  ****
2 Ice Cream 2:09  ***
3 Shellye's Email 3:03  ****
4 Crime Scene 3:00  ***
5 Carnival 1:49  ***
6 Aftermath 2:28  ***
7 Is This a Joke? 4:25  **
8 Killer Wolf 1:58  ***
9 Letha Dreams 2:36  ****
10 Roman and Olivia 0:49  ***
11 Peter Dreams 3:23  ****
12 Land Beyond 3:03  ***
13 Brooke's Vigil 1:54  ****
14 Longing 3:07  ***
15 Trust Each Other 1:58  ***
16 Screaming Schoolkides 3:17  ***
17 Peter's Transformation 3:05  ****
  Total Running Time (approx) 43 minutes  

 

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