With an IMDB score of 9.0 and the start of its sixth season just this past Friday (September 24th, 2010), it’s fair to say that the television series “Supernatural” has been fairly successful. And the success of any good television show takes concerted effort from many different fronts. The actors typically get the most recognition (it’s not hard to understand why), but there’s much more going on behind the scenes that most audience members consider. So consider this 18-track collection of music (evenly divided between the two composers) from the first five seasons of the popular show a testament to the quality of work that composers Christopher Lennertz and Jay Gruska have brought to the series. At the time of this writing, this soundtrack is ranked #240 in terms of Amazon music sales which is a testament to fan support for the music from the series.

After over 100 episodes, how do you choose an hour’s worth of material to include on an album? Lennertz and Gruska didn’t do that. They took a different route:   “… by making each track be more of a compilation of several pieces we thought you would enjoy not only more material, but be reminded of the broad geographical and emotional landscape of ‘Supernatural’, which in turn led to a broad musical landscape.” The even tracks are attributed to Gruska, while the odd tracks are attributed to Lennertz, and there’s a bit of distinction between the composers that becomes evident throughout the album. Lennertz seems to be assigned the fast-paced action sequences (even the tongue-in-cheek “Old ‘Monster Movie'” launches into staccato rhythms) while Gruska tackles more of the emotional core (listen to the violin/piano duo in the early moments of “Isn’t it Bromantic?”). But the interesting part about this collection of music is exactly what Gruska and Lennertz state in the liner notes – there isn’t really a central theme here. The series covers such a wide range of music – “‘Salmon Dean’ in the Heartland” plays out like a bluegrass instrumental, “The Meatsuit Mambo” uses heavy percussion to drive an action thriller theme – and Gruska and Lennertz seem to be at home no matter what the moment calls for.

Overall, this is an impressive, if not standardly thematic collection of music. This duo does go heavy on the dread factor, often emphasizing the fact that something bad could happen at any time. Even the more tender moments (such as the gentle piano in “Lilith Unfair”) is backed by a menacing reverb. In 2006 Lennertz was nominated for an “Outstanding Sound Editing For a Series” Emmy. This collection shows why he got the nomination, though it may also reveal why he didn’t win (and why neither member of this composing duo has gone on to nab further nominations). The majority of the music is intense and driven, but it rarely stops to capture the more human elements of the story, instead focusing on action and intrigue. This could be more due to the style of the television series itself than the composers, but accomplished composers like Bear McCreary seem to find depth and characterization in any type of television.

Zach’s Rating: B+
Perfect For: Putting on shuffle with other score music
Stay Away if: You’re looking for consistent themes

To purchase the soundtrack for “Supernatural”, visit Amazon

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