Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2023 December 18 • Monday

It's the holiday season and to almost everyone that means flamethrowers. The 809th Soundtrack of the Week is Joe Renzetti's music for The Exterminator!

Things get off to a tense and ominous start with the synth and strings-crafted "The Beheading", which builds up to a brief explosion of action.

Then there's a slow and soulful country love song called "Heal It (Part 1)", written by Byron Hill and Mike Reed and sung by Roger Bowling. This is still The Exterminator, though, so the lyrics are tailored to fit: "I've been a witness / To the spilling of the blood / Seen a lifeless body / Lying in the mud".

"Beer Fight" is another slow, shadowy, synth and strings number that creates an atmosphere of dread while frantically chopping and stabbing strings combine with percussion and other sharp sounds for "Jefferson's Mugging".

After that there's a respite, as "In Hospital Jefferson & Eastland" uses gentle long tones for a peaceful atmosphere with some measured phrases from the oboe.

But we can't hang out there all day. Now it's time for "Into Gangster's House and Dog Attacks", which starts out as low textural expressions before switching into a series of biting, stabbing notes.

Acoustic guitar kicks off "Dirty Stories", another relatively calm piece featuring oboe, but always with an undertone of unease.

I would like nothing better to sit and watch The Exterminator on actual Christmas Day, but I suspect that this won't happen. I will get around to it someday, however, and will confirm that "Fried Pimp-Fried Chicken" is when the flamethrower comes out and gets deployed. Musically it's similar to the other cues, long, low tones, conveying dread and suspense with strings and synthesizer.

Very cool percussion work announces "Gouls, Gang Banges, Shot-Car Chase", which keeps the steady rush of rhythm throughout while strings monomaniacally stab on top before settling into some long and climbing tones.

The acoustic guitar comes back, playing lovely and delicate arpeggiated chords for "Jefferson in Hospital Eastland Pulls Plug (Reimagined)", eventually joined by supportive string writings.

The soundtrack proper wraps up with the high-tension "Shipyard Chase-Shootout", which begins similarly to many of the other cues, with long, uneasy tones, but then upshifts to an ensemble ostinato with strings and percussion swirling around a series of notes, quite effectively creating a sense of urgency and propulsion.

The rest of the CD consists of repears of the cues with the "(Reimagined)" addition that adorned the "Jefferson in Hospital Eastland Pulls Plug" cue above. That one without the "(Reimagined)" bit is in the second half of the CD and I'm not sure if that's a typo or a deliberate choice.

The "(Reimagined)" versions have some additional sonorities, mostly of the electronic kind, and there's also a full version of the song "Heal It".

It's a really good score and almost certainly a perfect movie to watch with the family this holiday season. Depending on the family, of course.