Bless The Child
GNP CRESCENDO GNPD 8066
A no-holds barred musical journey into the dark world of supernatural religious
Five long pieces (between six and fourteen minutes) support a tale of a young
child at the centre of a cataclysmic battle between the forces of darkness
and light. Of course, we are very much in the territory that Jerry Goldsmith
made his own with his truly brilliant, certainly trend setting work on the
Omen trilogy, but fortunately Christopher Young is talented enough to make
it all sound relatively fresh and exciting.
'Introitus (Entrance)' is incredibly atmospheric, with various exotic references
(including nods to both the Middle East and the Middle Ages). Growling, bass
voices vie with angelic counterparts in a powerful evocation of good versus
evil and there's a veritable hotchpotch of everything we have come to associate
with this particular genre. To some it may seem somewhat clichéd,
but for myself, I found it all vastly enjoyable and entertaining.
'Kyrie Eleison (Lord Have Mercy Upon Us)' opens again with guttural male
voices supported by swirling, insistent strings. Mid-way through the first
real melody presents itself, a typically catchy, boldly dramatic Young motif
that has a strong sense of nobility, adding weight to the entire score. Later,
the growling vocals return in what almost sounds like some kind of Viking
war chant! Much of this long track though is dedicated to low-key mood setting,
punctuated by bursts of energy and ending with a choral, overtly religious
'Dies Irae (Day of Wrath)' is more of a percussive, driving onslaught, although
there are quieter, ominous moments to add to the sense of disquiet. Some
nice off-kilter piano late in the track is followed by surges of manic, desperate
cacophony. Finally, angelic voices return to briefly suggest hope against
'Agnus Dei (Lamb of God)' has church organ used to subtle effect to accentuate
the religious aspects of the story, again with the choral embellishments
and the inclusion of echoing, whispered voices and shrill strings create
an almost palpable quality of foreboding. There's a brief reprise of that
noble motif introduced in 'Kyrie Eleison', although much of the time tense
atmospherics dominate. Thankfully though they never drag on long enough to
become tiresome and Young always manages a sudden change of pace and tone
to keep you interested.
Lastly, 'Lux Aeterna (Eternal Light)' features solo soprano voice announcing
a gentle, hesitantly hopeful motif, still with undercurrents of unease. The
choral works dominates this entire track in an understated finale that is
seductively effective, until it finally takes flight and reuses the compelling
conclusion from 'Dies Irae'.
A very serious piece of work, sometimes grandiose, often rather subtle, perhaps
less driving and more ambient than Goldsmith's The Omen, this is an insidiously
persuasive and impressive score. And while it is perhaps a little intense
for all tastes, for those who like their film music dark, disturbing and
dangerous, Bless the Child will not disappoint.
Gary S. Dalkin adds:-
With disaster movies everywhere over the last few years, a new Star
Wars film in the cinemas last summer and I Love the 70's on
the TV every Saturday night, one might be forgiven for thinking we'd done
the timewarp and were trapped in 1979. That other big 70's fad hasn't been
forgotten, with supernatural horror movies currently falling over their own
plot-holes in the mad dash to beat one another into the local multiplex.
The cover art for this latest contender, Bless the Child, suggests
a highly derivative mix of The Exorcist, The Omen and
Carrie, while hot on the heels of Robert Zemeckis' What Lies Beneath,
Chuck D. Russell (The Mask, Eraser) is the latest 'name' director
to hitch a lift on the supernatural bandwagon. The film has had mixed reviews,
but at least received praise for taking an apparently respectful and accurate
portrayal of Christianity, and of being unusual in according not just Satan,
but also God with supernatural power. Will miracles in Hollywood never cease?
The album of Christopher Young's score is divided into just five tracks with
titles drawn from the requiem: Introitus, Kyrie Eleison, Dies Irae, Agnus
Dei and Lux Aeterna, but make no mistake, this isn't a requiem.
The whole thing might as easily have been edited into one long track, or
left in many separate short cues, because the result is, the finale excepted,
simply one long formless mass (pun intended). A big score, with orchestra,
choir, electronics, vocal soloists, and one of the same world music signature
instruments as featured on John Debney's End of Days, this is typical
post-Omen God vs the Devil Hollywood film music. We get lots of
portentous suspense music, lots of unsettling atmospheres, doom laden bells,
'evil' sounding choral passages, and some music in the actual requiem tradition.
It's better crafted than usual, and doubtless will work up a storm with the
accompanying images. As an album only the hymnal Lux Aeterna as much in the
way of real interest, and this is the sort of piece one might imagine coming
from a collaboration between Howard Hanson and Alan Hovhaness. It is actually
very striking, and would be a prime candidate for inclusion should Silva
Screen decide to record a follow-up to their recent A History of
Horror. The sound is excellent and if you particularly like horror scores
I imagine this will go down a treat.
Gary S. Dalkin
Ian Lace concludes with:-
Gary has stolen most of the words from my mouth, A mix of some originality
with lots of the usual writhing, slithering and jangling (that's the satanic
bit), and heavenly pomp but given a much more interesting spin than the norm.
The opening Introitus impresses but from there the pit yawns (pun intended).
At least Agnus Dei and Lux Aeterna offers some heavenly respite (pun half
intended) and Mr Young will have done film music and music lovers a service
in embracing the style of Gabriel Fauré whose lovely Requiem is
wholeheartedly recommended (outrageous PR for Fauré intended; any
perceived slight to Mr Young unintended).