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Shooting Guns - WolfCop Original Soundtrack (2014) review

Shooting Guns "WolfCop Original Soundtrack Recording" (Cassette Tape, 12” – One Way Static Records/Cinecoup/Sundowning, 2014)

If you were to tell me a few months ago that my choice for album of the year would be a soundtrack I’d have called you crazy…  Come this winter and the unbelievable happened, though.  One of my all time favorite groups Shooting Guns released their soundtrack for the independent Canadian film WolfCop for One Way Static and its one hell of an album!  I’m just gonna dive in and do my best to dissect a little of what’s going on here as the WolfCop OST operates not only as a new stand-alone Shooting Guns album, but also as a wonderful horror soundtrack piece paying heavy homage to any number of Italian composers; Morricone and Frizzi I’m looking in your direction, Carpenter and 70s/80s horror composers like Fiedel and Myrow/Seagrave I’ve got my eyes on you!  The stuttering ominous waves of synthesizer that open “Lycanthrope” are a perfect example of the albums steadfast placement in the horror film genre, the absolutely gnarly sounds of explosive guitar and battering bass and drums that come trundling into the middle of the song demonstrate that Shooting Guns have come to do their own thing, and that much like the lycanthropic man character of WolfCop they’re going to be showcasing the best of both worlds here.  “Barn Burner” is a decidedly more normal Shooting Guns track, thundering guitars, waves of distortion and echo melting in with decimating bass and drums, the electronics taking more of a backseat, hovering in the background, hissing and bubbling when things get slightly more laid back and then disappearing into the maw of the frenzied mix when they explode.  There’s not a single song in the entire film that sounds out of place, forced or strange in the slightest, and the varied musical tones that are needed are well represented on the WolfCop soundtrack.  “Buda” is a short, less than two-minute, long song that has all the punch and balls of a Shooting Guns track but takes a sudden swerve towards the local honky-tonk on the way to practice; a chugging, deep-fried southern choogle affair to be sure.  “Hounds Of God” is simply a trip into the stratosphere, the sounds of the galaxy exploding funneled into insane distortion loops and splattered atop the bone-crunching riffage and skull crushing fuzz.  Next “Suda” takes the energy to another level, again sounding very reminiscent of what you’d hear on any given Shooting Guns album, but in a much tighter package, clocking in at only two-minutes again and containing a seriously funky bass break down with a sinister menacing electronic thunder shimmering above it.  “Railbender” is a slow-burner, simmering in its own riffy stew, and the solo on “Railbender” might be one of my all-time favorites that Shooting Guns has ever delivered.  There’s a tasteful classic rock sound to it, again stewed in southern fry batter and filtered through the icy landscape of Canada that lacks none of the killer instinct that permeates their sound.  The absolutely menacing sythn that fades out into “The Family of the Vaurdlak” perfectly set the pace for one of the coolest pieces on WolfCop.  “The Family of the Vaurdlak” is much more ambient and droning in tone than most things that Shooting Guns usually does, and it’s not an easy thing to just switch on your heels like that.  The unhinged, slightly frightened sounding strings fluttering in the back of the song are just amazing, and at about two-minutes in when the drums really kick-in and things start to get super trippy, you can feel the tangible tension growing in the air.  “Burchard von Worms” is the first song that sounds like it has electronic drums I’ve ever heard from the Shooting Guns camp and while it took me a little bit of time to sell myself on the concept when it was first presented, “Burchard von Worms” is definitely one of the best songs on the soundtrack.  It holds its weight against anything that Rob created for the absolutely mesmerizing Maniac soundtrack a few years ago, and considering that’s on my top fifty horror soundtracks of all time, that’s saying quite a bit.  “Wulver” continues to dwell in the same Carpenter inspired soundscape that “Burchard von Worms” creates but it takes the manic energy up a notch, sounding like it would be very at home in any number of classic 80’s slasher films without sounding derivative or contrived in the slightest.  The seemingly benign melody that underlies “Wulver” and leads into “Freebander” bleeds classic horror like very few bands are capable of.  Because there was more around eighty-plus minutes of music recorded for WolfCop, Shooting Guns had to be very selective about the music that made it onto the soundtrack, so it’s nice to hear some of the suite or companion pieces make an appearance.  The distinct tonal blend and personality split of “Wulver” and “Freebander” illustrates just how hard Shooting Guns worked on the music that went into the film, creating overlying themes, melodies and sounds that tied the film together musically and thematically, begging for an un-edited release featuring the complete recordings.  “West Coast Turnaround” is a perfect combination of the menacing Carpenter influenced horror sounds on the album, incorporating more atonal strings in the back, and Shooting Gun’s always massive guitar providing a plucked melody, muted and mixed into oblivion, wave after wave of feedback and wailing distortion taking it’s place instead.  The amount of atmosphere that Shooting Guns are capable of summoning are always incredible but it feels like “West Coast Turnaround” might be their greatest accomplishment yet in that department.  Melting and blending directly into the chaotic atonal funk of “Spy In The Sky” we’re starting to move into more recognizable territory for longtime listeners of the band.  Epic, soaring lead guitar splitting the sky like thunder and striking the rhythm section like lightning, “Spy In The Sky” degrades into a droning, sinister synth chord that tunnels directly to the ambient chords that begin “Bait Car” before exploding into utter madness as is Shooting Guns want.  And while a lot of songs on WolfCop show how well they were able to blend their own hard hitting psychedelic style and team it with the harsh blackened sounds of min-synth horror soundtracks “Delta Bravo” has a dead-ahead rock angle going from the moment it starts, twisted guitar trundling and crushing the rhythms beneath it.  “Mirandarized” sounds like it seriously could have been taken from The Prince Of Darkness soundtrack, absolutely haunting and completely disturbed.  “Concrete Therapy” takes the electronic edge of “Mirandarized” and charges it with an electric energy only Shooting Guns could muster, going completely balls out!  The driving rhythms propel “Concrete Therapy” like a sludge hammer into your head; there will be no keeping these riffs out of your noggin, that’s for sure!  One of the higher energy, balls-to-the-walls tracks on the album it’s surprising in that “Concrete Therapy” only runs about a minute and forty-five seconds.  “Ride Along” lets loose another track from the Lovecraftian portal that Shooting Guns created to so successfully channel John Carpenter, the fade and flutter of the despotic synthesizer is just horrifying in the best possible sense.  If WolfCop didn’t make it apparent that Shooting Guns were trying something new from the moment that it starts the album finisher definitely does.  “One More Day” not only contains vocals, but it’s a straight-up honky-tonkin’ ass country song.  I’m not sure whether it’s a tongue-in-cheek parody of straight-up country music or Shooting Guns were using the song as a way to vent some of the oddities that they inevitably birthed during the sessions for WolfCop, what I wouldn’t give to hear the complete recordings from this session, but what I do know is that “One More Day” is a fittingly bizarre way to finish up the soundtrack.  Channeling the frantic fury and energy that permeates and bleeds from the film, the songs that were recorded for WolfCop not only capture the feel and aesthetic of the film perfectly, but also manage to fold in the sounds and personality of Shooting Guns who after two absolutely jaw dropping full-length albums, aren’t just busy proving that they’re one of the world’s greatest psych or prog bands anymore, this time they’re here to prove they’re simply one of the best – end of sentence.  WolfCop is a bloody love-letter to the minimalist synth horror soundtracks of the 80’s, independent music and film, but above all else, to the pioneering spirit and vision responsible for it, which sprawls far beyond tawdry labels or boundaries.  Not only is this the best album of the year for me, this is one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard in my life; if I had the money I’d release the complete recordings myself, rest assured I’ll be waiting with baited breath for that announcement should it ever come!  But in the meantime, with a WolfCop sequel already announced let’s pray that Shooting Guns is tapped once more to create the sounds and make sure to pick up a copy of the WolfCop soundtrack like yesterday, the 12” is limited to only one thousand copies and going quick and the cassette version limited to only 300 copies is already sold-out!  Don’t worry though you can pick it up digitally anytime directly from Shooting Guns here

Make sure you also check out
-              September 2013 interview with Shooting Guns here

Review made by Roman Rathert/2015
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