As you have probably gathered I am not the most ardent fan of Hans Zimmer, but saying this credit where credit is due his music for INTERSTELLAR for example is stunning and GLADIATOR remains one of my favourite scores by him, I also am a fan of his THE DA VINCI CODE and then going back a few years BROKEN ARROW and his highly acclaimed music for THE LION KING plus there is BACKDRAFT which for me is still a stunning and exciting soundtrack. When I first saw BACKDRAFT it was in TOWER RECORDS in London’s Piccadilly Circus, in a large presentation box, I remember it because I also purchased THE ROCKETEER on the same day. Both were imports and quite expensive, however after hearing them the price was irrelevant. BACKDRAFT is a score that is brimming to overflowing with bold and highly stirring thematic properties, Zimmer certainly had his Wagner hat on when he was working on this project. Creating proud and strident sounding motifs for brave men of THE FIGHTING 17TH, and lighter more emotive pieces to accompany the brothers in the films storyline and the more intimate sections of the movie. The film itself was also highly entertaining and certainly a case of image and music working perfectly in unison to create great atmospheres and together heightening the tension and purveying the non action situations. The compact disc opens with a vocal, SET IN MOTION performed by Bruce Hornsby and The Range, and penned by him and John Hornsby this is one of two songs that feature in the soundtrack the other being, THE SHOW GOES ON again by Hornsby. The opening score cue is Zimmer’s FIGHTING 17TH, it is a march of sorts a kind of martial introduction to proceedings with snare drums opening underlined by strings and leading into a full on patriotic theme performed by horns, woods, percussion and strings which are still supported by snares. Strings then become more prominent and introduce and embellish a more pronounced brass performance. Mid way through the cue the music turns more sinister and ominous this depicting the flames and explosion that takes place on screen resulting in the death of the main characters Father who is a fire fighter, the sight of a fire fighters helmet laying on the ground surrounded by debris to the sound of Zimmer’s lone trumpet is in a word stunning. Track two THE BROTHERS is more of a low key affair the composer employing piano and heartrending strings to create a warm and homely sounding theme. THE ARSONISTS WALTZ a is I think a clever piece of scoring it contains a certain air of foreboding but also seems to have about it a romantic feel that I can only think underlines the sense of fascination that the arsonist has with fire.
One of the outstanding cues within the soundtrack for me personally is track number 6, BURN IT ALL, this is in effect a knock em down and drag em out cue, there is certainly no room for any low key parts to this track it is full on powerful and unrelenting. We hear what I can only describe as a fire fighter breathing with the aid of respirator this introduces strings that introduce Zimmer’s forceful power house of a five note motif that forms the backbone of the composition, add to this brass and crashing percussive elements, electronics and piano that sends chills through the listener plus chorale support and more booming percussion and rasping brass flourishes and what do you have? Well a track that one just has to go back and listen to again and again. This is a combination of instrumentation both symphonic and synthetic that is not only powerful but at the same time highly emotional. The cue ends with that haunting trumpet solo an ominous sound that purveys loss and also sadness.
Track 6 segues into YOU GO WE GO, which again is a fervent and striking piece for strings that are strident and punctuating brass and percussion with choral effects present This moves into a more fraught sounding section which at times can be reminiscent of Jerry Fielding’s action music for THE WILD BUNCH but only fleetingly. Track number 8, FARENHEIT 451 is a slow are more emotive version of the opening theme, cello is added to create emotion and melancholy, but is soon overwhelmed by the brass section which brings forth a mood of deep passion that is laced with a proud and noble sound. The score closes with a triumphant and commanding cue, SHOW ME YOUR FIRETRUCK, in which we hear many of the central themes from the score, in fact an overture I suppose this is a fitting and resounding conclusion to this wonderful soundtrack again you will I know go back to this again and again. In my opinion Zimmer at his best and coming from me that’s a recommendation.