SHADOW BUILDER, was the first movie to be directed by James Dixon, Dixon had up until this movie been associated with the special effects depart in motion pictures. Based upon a short story by Dracula creator Bram Stoker, the movie which was released in 1998 tells the story of the SHADOW BUILDER which is an ominous and darkly evil being that feasts upon the souls of innocents. The score for this interesting horror picture is the work of Austrian born composer Eckart Seeber, the composer has penned an epic sounding work and also has included a number of choral passages and composition which underline the religious aspects of the story The score was issued before on the composers own label, but this edition is the full score and contains over 20 minutes more music and has a 12 page booklet to accompany it, with notes by Gergely Hubai. The score is made up of a number of central themes all of which feature heavily throughout the work either on their own or inter weaved with each other. The opening cue is an impressive and suitable fraught and chilling one, RITUAL/DEMISE OF THE ZEALOTS opens with fleeting a solo violin performance which is hauntingly attractive and introduces the track as strings take on the introduction and establish the mood of the composition which is one of apprehension and mystery. The composer then brings into the equation choir, who’s chanting adds even more of a malevolent atmosphere to the proceedings. This is a tense and commanding opening to the score and one that sets the scene perfectly for all of what is to follow. Seeber, adding a tolling bell effect that punctuates the piece and again adds an air of foreboding to the track.
But it is the choir that are the main feature here creating an uneasy and unsettling ambience. Track number 2, PRAYER FOR FORGIVENESS(Vasseys theme) opens with an almost light sounding woodwind solo of the theme, but although this solo is in no way threatening or dark there is a lingering and underlying mood of fearfulness which is purveyed by dark sounding strings which act as a background to the woodwind, the woods fade away and are overridden by strings and piano, which take on the central theme from this particular cue, but transform it from a light and pleasant piece into a shadowy and much more threatening piece. Track number 3, AT THE CEMETARY is a real stress filled cue, imaginative use of choir by the composer makes this an original and unsettling sounding cue, sinewy strings underline hissing voices that increase an develop into a full blown chant that is of satanic proportions.
Track number 4, GRAND RIVER TOWN (TOWN THEME) is a welcomed respite as it is the first piece that contains any light melodic elements, the composer introducing the track with a piano that is underlined by strings with slightly subdued percussive tremors, the theme develops into an affecting but short lived piece, before the composers interrupts it with a few seconds of music that is more robust and up tempo and brings the cue to its conclusion. This theme makes a return in track number 5, THE NIGHTMARE/AT GRAND RIVER but again does not really have enough time to develop fully. I cant help but draw some comparisons with the music that Jerry Goldsmith wrote for THE OMEN, satanic choral chants, eerie and driving strings, urgent brass flourishes, frenzied percussion and also a reoccurring and fragile sounding piano theme which is very evocative of The Piper Dreams, but saying this one cannot deny that this is a score that oozes quality and also has its fair share of originality. It is a powerful work and also an attractive one that I think will appeal to many collectors of quality film music. Available now from keep moving records.