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La Herencia Valdemar II: La Sombra Prohibida by Arnau Bataller

La Herencia Valdemar II: La Sombra Prohibida

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La Herencia Valdemar II: La Sombra Prohibida (Soundtrack)  by Arnau Bataller
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La Herencia Valdemar II: La Sombra Prohibida (Soundtrack) by Arnau Bataller

La Herencia Valdemar II:
La Sombra Prohibida
Composed by Arnau Bataller
MovieScore Media (2011)

Rating: 10/10

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“ It will take the average listener approximately 30 seconds to decide whether ARNAU BATALLER’s score for LA SOMBRA PROHIBIDA is worth their time, and anyone with the slightest affection for grandiose and fantastical orchestral music will answer that with a resounding yes. ”

Out of the Shadows
Review by Richard Buxton

It will take the average listener approximately 30 thirty seconds to decide whether ARNAU BATALLER’s score for LA SOMBRA PROHIBIDA is worth their time, and anyone with the slightest affection for grandiose and fantastical orchestral music will answer that with a resounding yes.

Following the less than critically acclaimed LA HERENCIA VALDEMAR, director and writer JOSÉ LUIS ALEMÁN reprises his role for the sequel LA SOMBRA PROHIBIDA, a Spanish tale of mystery set within the lore of H.P. Lovecraft. As a result, fellow Spaniard, ARNAU BATALLER returns having provided the highlight of their first collaboration, and arguably does so once more.

VALDEMAR II opens with the sensationally exciting and varied “Opening Titles” (1), an introduction that combines outstanding thematic chorally dominated sequences with percussion driven action patterns. The structure of the track strongly mirrors the themes typically heard in the many films of the Marvel Universe. BATALLER dances between bombastic brass and thematic brilliance before gliding into beautifully delicate string motifs that perfectly set up the next inevitable foray into the film’s sweeping theme.

It’s clear right from the start that the score has strong elements of horror and BATALLER crucially succeeds in maintaining a strong atmosphere of suspense and terror while consistently providing a fun and entirely unpredictable listening experience. Numerous tracks across the soundtrack typify this refreshing approach and the score excels because of this. The mixture of horror and unadulterated orchestral excitement is often reminiscent of BRIAN TYLER’s themes for DARKNESS FALLS. Both BATALLER and TYLER display a desire to entertain as well as provide a musical backdrop, something often amiss in modern film scores.

After the initial, jump-inducing crash, “Hunting” (2) develops evolves from a combination of apprehensive and staccato strings into an erratic and exciting action-sequence. BATALLER continues this evolutionary structure to his tracks throughout VALDEMAR II, opening tracks, such as “The Ritual” (16), with suspense and foreshadowing of the eruption to come before letting loose with all of his substantial creativity.

The emphasis on vaunting the bravado of BATALLER’s competence in creating a sound that truly justifies the use of the word “epic”, could potentially become overwhelming if it were not for the various tracks that punctuate the relentless theatrics. Such is BATALLER’s apparent mastery over the orchestra; he manages to excel both in over-the-top flamboyance and romantic, wistful string-dominated statements.

“Santiago’s Madness” (2), following the impressive “Opening Titles”, creates a significantly different landscape. The haunting choir accompanies the interchanges between strings and percussion brilliantly as the motifs create an atmosphere of child-like innocence. This motif is heard once again in “A Personal Feeling” (6), offering a reflective and sentimental complexion of strings and woodwinds before the haunting of the choir creeps back in towards the end. BATALLER consistently manages to seamlessly weave together writhing suspense and gorgeous beauty throughout “You’ve Been There Before” (8), ending the track on a glorious note that leads into the pensive string ostinato heard in “The Trick” (9).

It is a truly rare pleasure to be able to review a score that presents itself without any noticeable dips in quality, and BATALLER comes agonizingly close to being one of the chosen few. “The Game Room” (5), starts out promisingly with a strong use of percussion and brass, a start that is betrayed by a simple lack of interesting ideas. This, however, is clearly a conscious decision based on accompanying the film, and therefore is only the slightest of disappointments when the score is appreciated as a whole.

As the score moves into the final third, BATALLER truly unleashes the thematic beast that resides within him. From the haunting whispers of “Dámaso” to the brash bass of the male choir in “Maximilian” (15), the music begins to fully embrace the legacy of H.P. Lovecraft’s work and resultantly flourishes. The powerful theme heard in the male choir returns in brass form in the subsequent track, “The Ritual” (16), and leads into a cacophony of orchestral exuberance for the final moments. Such excitement is not the showstopper of the score however, as BATALLER has one more trick up his sleeve in the form of “Cthulhu” (17).

The climactic piece, “Cthulhu” is a composition of masterful talent and quality. The outstanding, mile-a-minute reprise of the film’s main themes in the opening minute three-and-a-half minutes is only the beginning however as BATALLER subdues the orchestra, preparing the listener for what is one of the most gloriously compelling finales ever heard in a film score. Out of the ashes of the horror, “Cthulhu” rises into a dazzling, majestic and unequivocally exquisite final three minutes of heavenly string harmonies. Hearing the strings erupt in all their divinity in the final minute, it is clear that the entire score ha been leading up to this painfully fleeting moment of unsurpassed celebration of BATALLER’s talent. As the strings strain to maintain such agonizing beauty it becomes abundantly clear that BATALLER has truly reached beyond the spectrum that this film can ever reach. The tragedy here is that most will never bear witness to such magnificence as it is constrained by the limited distribution of the film worldwide.

In an ideal world, LA SOMBRA PROHIBIDA would be ARNAU BATALLER announcing himself on the world stage; his talents clearly deserve significant success. Nonetheless, ARNAU BATALLER is surely in line for great things and is one to watch for the future. In LA HERENCIA VALDEMAR II, BATALLER has produced a score that any of the great Hollywood composers of today and yesteryear would be proud to call their own.

 

Rating: 10/10


Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Opening Credits 2:46  *****
2 Santiago's Madness 2:50  *****
3 Hunting 1:19  ****
4 Necronomicon 5:18  ****
5 The Game Room 4:05  ***
6 A Personal Feeling 1:07  *****
7 Choose Seven Cards 2:08  ****
8 You've Been There Before 2:24  *****
9 The Trick 2:45  ****
10 Pictures 3:19  ****
11 The Monster 2:00  *****
12 Skulls 1:17  ****
13 The Wheel of Fortune 1:51  *****
14 Dámaso 1:29  *****
15 Maximilian 2:03  *****
16 The Ritual 5:44  *****
17 Cthulhu 8:07  *****
18 Lázaro 3:26  ****
  Total Running Time (approx) 54 minutes  

 

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