Musical Score By: Timothy Williams
Original Song Performed By: Zella Day
Distributed by: Milan Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
In the western, Diablo, Scott Eastwood as Jackson, an 1870s California farmer whose wife (Camille Bell) is taken in the middle of the night by Mexican banditos. Jackson immediately sets out on a journey to hunt them down. Along the way, he faces Asian traders, highway robbers, Native Americans and old friends he thought were long dead. A Civil War veteran who did things during the war that changed him, Jackson is haunted throughout his journey by a highwayman who wants him dead.
The musical score of Diablo was created by British-born, Canadian-raised composer Timothy Williams. Beginning his musical studies in piano and composition at the Toronto Conservatory of Music and the Victoria Conservatory of Music, Williams completed his studies at the National Film and Television School in England. He worked at the BBC as an orchestrator, but eventually began a career in film scoring. Credits include Wild Horses, Walking with the Enemy, The Butterfly Circus, Mulberry Tree, Fragmented and more. Williams has also created additional music for such notable films as Guardians of the Galaxy, 300, Sucker Punch, Watchmen, Doomsday and more.
From the very first track, I could tell Diablo was a western. It had that The Good, The Bad and The Ugly feel (a film starring Scott’s father, Clint Eastwood). According to Timothy Williams, “The director, Lawrence Roeck, and I discussed the tone at length and felt a more traditional western guitar driven score might feel a touch overused and might not serve the film well…The story played much better as a psychological thriller, so we agreed that we wanted to head in that direction and try to capture the emotion of a man whose wife has been taken and the immense turmoil he faces on his journey to get her back. We wanted to contrast the great beauty of the surroundings with the darkness and twisting of the events.” That being said, the traditional western guitar pieces are still there and the song, Bloodline, featuring the vocals of Zella Day, has that old western sound.
The rest of the score has a dark feel, perfect for the psychological anguish Jackson finds himself going through on his journey to rescue his wife. There is almost a horror feel to the score with high-pitched violins, deep percussion, blasts of music and a mix of orchestral and electronic sound, spooky enough to raise the hair on the back of your neck. Spookier still are the whistles found in the beginning of tracks like Colorado Territory. Violins and horns accent that western feel, but it is primarily the dark, ominous undertone that purveys throughout the soundtrack.
I have no doubt that the score created for Diablo by Timothy Williams suits the visuals and drama of the film, but I wonder whose niche this soundtrack would fit in. Would fans of westerns want to purchase it, as much of it contains horror or dramatic themes? Would fans of the psychological thriller want to purchase it, despite the bits of western theme? One thing I know for sure is that fans of the composer would definitely want to add the Diablo Soundtrack to their collection. It shows the diversity of the composer. A job well done.