I should start this review by pointing out that I’m something of a philistine, where music is concerned. I don’t know anything about the technical aspects of music, and imperfectly deconstruct something that I’ve heard enough to discuss it in any sort of practical context. Please keep that in mind as you read this review.
“Shot Down in Flames” is an instrumental track that’s just over four minutes in length. It starts out slow, with a rhythmic, repeating “crackling” noise that could conceivably be the sound of flames. Minor keyboard notes complement this intro, conveying a generally unsettled tone as the track begins. It helps to evoke a sense of immediate but passive anxiety – the sort of sense you’d get if you found yourself stuck in a bad place or situation, but weren’t in immediate danger.
This changes fairly quickly though, as the music adds a quick beat to the mix, increasing the tempo considerably, along with a synthesizer at roughly the one minute mark. I had mixed feelings about those parts of the song, as they add a much more active element to the feelings the music evokes.
Presumably, this is trying to convey a sense of urgency, that there’s an imminent threat to your situation. I can appreciate this, but as the track continues, I can’t help but wish that it had let there been a longer build-up with the slower music first, to let the tension build over time. As it is, the music does let the tempo wind back down in the last twenty seconds, but at that point it’s for a noticeable fade-out, and lacks the earlier emphasis.
To be fair, the sense of heightened threat throughout the majority of the music is done fairly well, but the techno-sounding beat used to do it seems to undercut the keyboard used at the beginning. It does create a rising tension, but I can’t help but feel that a slower use of minor chords to unsettle the listener would have been more effective. Still, this does help to create the sense of a narrative, so I can’t find too much fault with the track.