Hell Van: The Motion Picture Soundtrack review: local artists bring back horror soundtrack

By: Michael Roberts for TDS

Photo by Michael Roberts 

Put on your Return of The Living Dead t-shirt and get ready to bang your head, the horror movie soundtrack is making a comeback! 

Kent multimedia collective The Slow Mutants and their leader Jorge Delarosa are putting the finishing touches on their latest movie, Hell Van, “about a van from hell and it’s in the vein of late 80’s action horror with some grindhouse elements,” Jorge says. To whet the appetites of their fans, they have unleashed Hell Van: The Motion Picture Soundtrack

When the movie initially started coming together, the idea was to have a soundtrack of industrial music. As production started and local bands were being used as temp tracks, Delarosa quickly realized that the songs they were using were capturing the feel he wanted to achieve. His plan for a full-fledged soundtrack of new music by local artists was born.

“Let’s record new songs by our friend’s bands and see if we can get them to write material for it,” Jorge says.

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Rather than having everyone record at different studios and send music in, Jorge, producer Louis DelBene and engineer Bryan Wolbert built a full recording studio in his basement. The studio, now named The Spider Pit, is where most of the bands recorded their tracks in a brief period of time. “In one week, we recorded nine of the bands,” says Jorge. During the recording process, there was a camera crew on hand to film recording sessions and interviews with the bands. That footage will be edited into a documentary to be released alongside the film.

“I think because we pretty much recorded everything here and had this cool party vibe going on as we recorded it, it really flows in an incredible way.” Jorge says.

The soundtrack opens with an introduction to literal DJ from Hell, DJ Eve. Jorge explains that DJ Eve is his homage to 70’s classics The Warriors and Vanishing Point. Like in those films, she is “kind of narrating the film and what is happening.”

After the opening track, the album slams into gear with “Doomsday Device” from Akron’s own power-trio Cheap Heat. The song is a sonic assault that sets the tone for the rest of the album.

From there the album ventures into the psychedelic with False Positive’s “Rise of the Demon Dogs”. A southwestern flavored interlude follows by The Hell Van House Band “Dark Side of the Saloon.” The song would fit in nicely in a Robert Rodriguez or Quentin Tarantino film.

“The Providence” by Book of Death brings a Bay area punk feel and “Good Friday” by Feckweed imbues the album with their stoner rock style.

Side one ends with one of three selections from the film score that are also on the soundtrack. Hardcore act Nervous Aggression kick off side two with their fittingly titled “Woke Up Raging” before Not This Body slows things down (temporarily) with the instrumental “Dust Wind Dude”. Akron hardcore band Wallcreeper provide the blistering “Hesitation Kills.” The track is followed by another of the selections from the film score.

Next up is one of the standouts of the album. “Burning of the Last Pharaoh” by progrock band The Horning Warning. It is a complex track with a haunting female vocal that brings another dimension to the soundtrack.

The album roars along with “Who Drives the Hell Van?” by The Apocalyptic Fist of the Black Death. An incredibly layered song that has elements of Coheed & Cambria and King Diamond.

After the last interlude from the film score, the soundtrack comes to a close with the song “Prologue” by the band ALBUM. Jorge says “That’s the only thing that wasn’t recorded specifically for Hell Van. It’s off of their EP Zepheniah. I fell in love with it.”

Alongside the soundtrack is the film’s score by Sean Carlin and Billy Farkas. Carlin was part of Kent alt-rock legends DINK. In 2014, Jorge had produced a documentary about the band (Gangrene: The DINK Documentary) and remained friends with Carlin. Jorge convinced him and Farkas to score the film. The result is a score that ranges from serene to ghostly to cosmic. Listening to it, it is easy to imagine how it will help bring the movie’s terrifying visuals to life. The score is set to be released alongside the movie. As of this writing Hell Van is scheduled to premier at Halloween of this year.

Hell Van: The Motion Picture Soundtrack is available now at theslowmutants.bandcamp.com

Michael (he/him) is a lifelong resident of Highland Square, a performance artist, a traveler, a writer and a part-time mad scientist.

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