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Artwork copyright (c) 1989 Silva Screen Records Ltd; review copyright (c) 2003 James Southall



Jerry Goldsmith's not exactly demonstrated a great degree of prescience when picking his projects over the years, but Warlock must be one of the most peculiar entries in his filmography.  Made in the late 1980s, probably Goldsmith's weakest period, the movie sees someone travel forward in time from the 17th century and try to use the "Devil's Bible" to reverse the creation of the world.  Well.

As well as being one of the weakest films he's scored, it's one of his weakest scores.  Things don't start off too badly with "The Sentence", a reasonable theme performed by a small (Australian) orchestra and synths, but from then on there are long periods of synth whooshes and bleeps and occasional orchestral interference which do little to impress.  I'm sure it's very effective in the film though.  Take a track like "The Trance" - it really could live up to its name and induce you into slumber.  Sinister woodwind fluttering, occasional string rushes and yet more synth stuff combine and it's really effective stuff - I'm just not sure who would want to listen to it.

Of course, a film like this has a few action scenes, and Goldsmith's scoring of these is typically exciting.  Trouble is, unlike other scores, here he generally doesn't have lengthy periods to develop his music, it just appears in fits and starts.  There are some great passages in "Old Age" but they only last for a few seconds at a time; and the last minute or so of "Nails" is great.  You can hear the groundwork being laid for his seminal Total Recall effort from just a year later, but they are lightyears apart in terms of quality.

The album does pick up towards the end.  "The Weather Vane" is a pretty exciting cue (the Recall similarities probably most in evidence here, with the xylophones); the nine-minute "Salt Water Attack" is probably the best track, once it gets going; it's one of only two tracks you could extract and listen to and probably be impressed with, but even so it's not exactly vintage stuff.  The concluding "Salt Flats" (another long track) gives the typical Goldsmith "big finish", and is another genuinely good piece.

Perhaps the biggest problem is the album's length.  I think I'm right in saying that, at 55 minutes, apart from the two-volume Lionheart release, Warlock was the longest ever release of a Goldsmith score at the time.  So - longer than Planet of the Apes or The Final Conflict or Star Trek: The Motion Picture - I mean, for the love of God, something's wrong.  At 30 minutes (which was the typical Goldsmith album length at the time, as dictated by the composer himself) the album might have been reasonable; at 55 minutes, it isn't.  I forever find various redeeming features in even the most mediocre Goldsmith albums when other critics slam them without hesitation, but I have to say that I can't think of many for Warlock.  I'm sure Goldsmith would love to strike it from the record, and the Goldsmith fans who don't have it in their collections due to its rarity are, honestly, not missing out.

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  1. The Sentence (4:06)

  2. Ill Wind (2:08)

  3. The Ring (2:17)

  4. The Trance (5:34)

  5. Old Age (4:12)

  6. Growing Pains (5:36)

  7. The Weather Vane (5:03)

  8. Nails (4:26)

  9. The Uninvited (4:57)

  10. Salt Water Attack (8:45)

  11. Salt Flats (7:10)