Since scoring the well-received documentary Touching the Void in 2003, UK composer Alex Heffes has added a few more well-known titles to his resume, including the currently Oscar-nominated documentary Inside Job, The Last King of Scotland, State of Play, and last month’s exorcism-themed Anthony Hopkin’s vehicle The Rite. It may be sold as a horror movie via trailers, but the music Heffes has composed for the film (at least the music included on this album) implies that it is much more. In fact, there’s a nice touch of dramatic flair throughout that separates this from most horror scores and gives it a bit more emotional clarity, particularly in the opening third of the album, though in later tracks such as “Phone Call to Father,” it’s just as effective. There’s still plenty of action and excitement, but Heffes tempers those moments with the melancholy emotional sections of his score, effectively heightening the action sequences.

In the horror sequences, it does feel as if Heffes employs the crescendo a few too many times. The track “Rosaria Coughs Up The Nails” is especially crescendo-heavy: the music rises, and rises, and rises, and then suddenly shrieks and drops back. This maneuver works once or twice (and maybe more while watching a film) but on a soundtrack it feels too repetitive and distracts from the more sinister undertones. A similar tactic is the sudden moment of piercing strings – Heffes employs this one with a bit more discretion and to better effect  (in tracks I won’t mention so as not to spoil the surprise).

The final three tracks on this 56 minute album are around seven minutes each and aside from the reappearance of a few previously mentioned horror tropes, these are the best of the album. Any time an album groups film composition into such lengthy pieces of music, it seems to draw out the true development of themes and emotions that the composer has been only hinting at in shorter pieces. It also allows the composer to set varying tones within a single track which reminds the listener that this is a complete scene and not just a brief moment.

Zach’s Rating: B
Perfect For: Some pleasantly suspenseful music with a few annoying surprises
Stay Away if: You’re looking for a collection of music that sticks to one genre

To purchase the score for The Rite, visit Amazon

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