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Hellboy (Soundtrack)

Marco Beltrami

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Album Review

Guillermo del Toro has once again tapped Marco Beltrami, this time to score his film adaptation of Hellboy. The director and composer had already collaborated on both Mimic and Blade II, with Beltrami conjuring music that immersed itself in the mood of each film, instead of simply grafting on orchestral boilerplate. For Hellboy, Beltrami seems to understand that he's scoring not just del Toro's film, but the collective conceptions of a thriving comic book cult. It's movie music, certainly; "Evil Doers" is appropriately plodding and gloomy, while strings shimmer mournfully in the margins of "Father's Funeral" and "Mechanical Mausoleum" is a chaotic whir of crashing percussion, hysterical violins, and brass that warns of impending danger. But Beltrami has also found a way to access and accentuate the ingenious mixture of slightly creepy horror, thrilling action, offbeat humor, and warm human emotion that typifies Hellboy in both film and print. The main title stalks along at the stark pace of a '70s cop show, but soon swells into something much more epic and foreboding — it's a deft mixture of brassy action movie music and tingling drama. "Snow Walkers" carries that hint of danger through before the theme for "Liz Sherman" drifts into frame, guided by violins softer than the nape of a woman's neck. There's foreshadowing here, too — the horns take over to suggest the danger of Liz's world. "Rooftop Tango" might be even better, inserting a bit of that dance's lighthearted lilt into the often doom-laden proceedings. Beltrami deserves credit too for shying away from synthesizers, which burbled under the surface of his work for Blade II. The programming and chilly beats worked for that film's explosive landscape of munitions, blood, and PVC. But Hellboy is much better served by the traditional tools of a symphony orchestra and choir, augmented cleverly with harp, Theremin, and, on mid-album standout "Kroenen's Lied," stirring vocal soloists. Like director del Toro's fight to adapt Hellboy in his own vision — not Hollywood's — Marco Beltrami's score eschews genre constriction in favor of a rich palette of color, pacing, and emotion.

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