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Hellbenders
  • Composed by Jeff Grace
  • Screamworks Records / 2014 / 35m

A comedy horror released in 2012, Hellbenders is about a group of priests with a rather unorthodox method of ridding the world of demons – by behaving with such debauchery they attract the demons to inhabit them – and then when successful, they will kill themselves.  I’ve been a fan of composer Jeff Grace for a few years – thanks in no small part to the efforts of MovieScore Media and Screamworks Records, who have released several of his scores (in fact this is their tenth album of his music).  I particularly loved The Innkeepers, released a couple of years ago.  The composer is no stranger to the horror genre and I was hoping for another treat, especially given the film’s story would seem to offer a lot of potential to a composer (moreso perhaps than to the film itself); and indeed the album does feature some excellent music, though overall it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

It doesn’t take long for the good to appear – the superbly macabre main theme which opens the album, dark and gothic and hugely entertaining.  I’m a little surprised that style isn’t sustained, but Grace had other things on his agenda which then dominate much of the central part of the album.  I love the dark, driving suspense of “Surtr Loose”; the sinister strings and indeed stings of “Manchild”; the Chris Young-style explosive “Rabbi Weinberg”; dynamic action of “Invite Me In”.  But at times the composer strays far from that sort of territory with some pretty hard-hitting electronica designed to create such an intensely unsettling sound – and, well, intensely unsettling electronic sounds aren’t really my thing.  And there’s quite a lot of that, along with some similarly-disturbing orchestral dissonance.  Still – there’s quite a lot of the other stuff too and that’s done very well.  The penultimate cue, “Aftermath”, is a superb piece, my favourite on the album – a dreamy electronic soundscape of real substance.  And the final cue is called “Bum Fight” – and how could you fail to like that?  It’s a bit of a mixed bag, but the good parts are really good.

Rating: ***

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  1. mastadge on Thursday 1 May, 2014 at 23:02

    Nice review, but you got the premise slightly wrong. They don’t behave so badly to attract the demons — they do it so that when they kill themselves they’re guaranteed to go to hell, dragging the demons with them.