Haunted Castle OST Review by The Successor
|1. Dracula's Resurrection||0:09||180 KB|
|2. Wedding March Tragedy||0:18||368 KB|
|3. Cross Your Heart||0:53||1.03 MB|
|4. Devil's Resurrection||0:52||1.00 MB|
|5. Battle Again||0:07||150 KB|
|6. Devil's Revival||1:04||1.22 MB|
|7. No Return||0:12||254 KB|
|8. Bloody Tears||0:47||920 KB|
|9. Basement Melody and Beat of the Clocktower||2:00||2.29 MB|
|10. Don't Wait Until Night||0:51||0.99 MB|
|11. Dracula's Room||0:42||836 KB|
|12. Final Battle||0:55||1.06 MB|
|13. Ending||0:09||84 KB|
|14. Never End||0:09||172 KB|
|15. Sent to the Devil's Requiem||1:00||1.16 MB|
aunted Castle is a lot like a SaGa game; harrowing to play, but a sheer delight to listen to. The arcade classic blasts track after bodacious track of buzzing FM synthesis that compels listeners to bust out a tacky costume and monster mash the night away, no matter the season. Kenichi Matsubara conjures a flavorful care package of spooky nocturnes with a humorous twist that near single handedly save Haunted Castle from everlasting damnation.
The tunes get right to the point, often following a predictable yet effective pattern of a short intro succeeded by always accessible hooks that lead listeners into short but sweet musical escapades. The music isn't meant to be mulled over, but instantly captivates with head bobbing grooves of thunderous drumming and haunting riffs.
The first key track of this spine chilling assemblage is "Cross your Heart", which begins with a sinister bombinating riff and corny drum sounds that transition into the main melodic theme accompanied by a bouncy rhythm and whistling supporting melodies. It's full of the genial fun that's heard throughout the soundtrack.
"Devil's Revival", the second stage theme gets its threatening air from a tentative intro with an element of warning. It's ghostly, deceptive, and one of the better tracks on the entire collection. Like "Cross Your Heart", a tongue in cheek approach characterizes this dirge.
Contrary to what some sources say, Haunted Castle is not "Bloody Tears"' first performance. That spot belongs to Simon's Quest (or The Accursed Seal, to be technical), but here is heard the first remix of it, besides the Simon's Quest version. It is similar in style to the Akumajo Dracula X68000 rendition. Though completely different in tone color, it doesn't make too many notable variations from its Simon's Quest self, yet it doesn't sound as good. That sense of urgency and terror isn't there.
That certainly isn't the case with "Basement Melody" from stage 4, which this compilation links with "Beat of the Clocktower" from stage 5. The two mesh incredibly well. "Basement Melody" serves as a dread filled onslaught of swirling notes and panic, and then "Beat of the Clocktower" kicks in and provides the main course. A very contagious rhythm takes over, with the sensation of a Halloween party, or something. The really cool aspect of Haunted Castle's soundtrack is its good sense of humor and wittiness, and it's felt very strongly in "Beat of the Clocktower". The score retains that attitude without sacrificing its dignity and resorting to stupidity.
"Don't Wait Until Night" has gotten wider exposure as being the first part of Julius Belmont's theme from Aria of Sorrow, but its humble beginning is as the last stage theme in Haunted Castle. That is good, because hardly anyone would even play Haunted Castle, let alone get to the last stage of the near impossible game to hear this great theme. It's powerful and triumphant, in no small part due to the lead melody that the synth trumpets out. It's not complicated by any means, but very well crafted, and a good example of that 80s video game music mindset that relies strongly on just the tunefulness of a great melody instead of big ambient sounds that don't seem to have much substance; like a huge bag of chips you buy and open to discover that half of your purchase is air.
Though Haunted Castle's score does have its funniness and welcoming simple structure, there are some chilling and frantic pieces, notably the ones heard when facing Count Dracula. "Dracula's Room" is eerie, fearsome, and justly fitting the vampire. It's short and repetitive but fills the air with a legitimate sensation of terror and dread, and it's pretty nice sounding to boot. "Final Battle" is an excellent theme that has the honor of serving the climax of the game. It's frantic and crazy, yet surprisingly well calculated, and manages to also be pleasant to listen to. There are many ways this sort of thing could have gone wrong -- listen to the Aria of Sorrow boss tunes for an example -- but the composer of Haunted Castle has enough tact and talent to put something like this together and make it a pleasing listen.
There are few little transitioning pieces that are fun. "Wedding March Tragedy" sounds amusing when one of those heavy drum rolls storms the scene, and "Dracula's Resurrection" has a convincing imposing feeling of trepidation, as does "No Return". My personal favorite of these quickies is "Never End", not only for the catchy scale run, but also the unbelievably artful act of adding Simon's death scream to the beginning of it. It's cheering to know that the guys putting this collection together are that good.
As mentioned, Haunted Castle won't make for a very contemplative listen, like Super Castlevania IV, Symphony of the Night, or Harmony of Dissonance, and the tracks may not be as affecting as Belmont's Revenge's explosive and soaring score, or Dracula's Curse's wide ranging themes, but it's one of the more fun Castlevania soundtracks to turn up loud and wake the dead!