Castlevania: Symphony of the Night OST Review by Diplo
|1. Metamorphosis I||1:03||1.12 MB|
|2. Prologue||1:25||1.57 MB|
|3. Dance of Illusions||1:19||1.21 MB|
|4. Moonlight Nocturne||1:44||1.60 MB|
|5. Prayer||0:57||906 KB|
|6. Dracula's Castle||1:52||1.71 MB|
|7. Dance of Gold||1:52||1.71 MB|
|8. Marble Gallery||1:23||1.27 MB|
|9. Tower of Mist||2:46||2.53 MB|
|10. Nocturne||2:20||2.13 MB|
|11. Wood Carving Partita||2:43||2.49 MB|
|12. Door of Holy Spirits||1:28||1.34 MB|
|13. Festival of Servants||1:50||1.68 MB|
|14. Land of Benediction||0:18||282 KB|
|15. Requiem For the Gods||2:08||1.92 MB|
|16. Crystal Teardrops||2:01||1.85 MB|
|17. Abandoned Pit||2:13||2.03 MB|
|18. Rainbow Cemetery||2:45||2.52 MB|
|19. Silence||0:28||310 KB|
|20. Lost Painting||1:40||1.75 MB|
|21. Dance of Pales||2:30||2.60 MB|
|22. Curse Zone||1:25||1.33 MB|
|23. Enchanted Banquet||2:08||2.22 MB|
|24. Wandering Ghosts||2:51||3.12 MB|
|25. The Tragic Prince||4:04||4.39 MB|
|26. The Door to the Abyss||1:46||1.88 MB|
|27. Heavenly Doorway||1:50||1.98 MB|
|28. Death Ballad||1:41||1.74 MB|
|29. Blood Relations||1:33||1.66 MB|
|30. Metamorphosis II||0:37||653 KB|
|31. Finale Toccata||5:10||5.47 MB|
|32. Black Banquet||2:53||3.01 MB|
|33. Metamorphosis III||0:46||809 KB|
|34. I Am the Wind||4:34||4.92 MB|
astlevania: Bloodlines appeared on the scene with a fresh idea of how to get beyond the castle without compromising certain ideals. Despite the limitations of the system, the soundtrack was good - some of the very best to grace the series. Instead of continuing the poppy vibe of Rondo of Blood, there was a classical edge to the usually vigorous songs.
When Koji Igarashi took the reigns of Symphony of the Night, he felt it necessary to assemble a definable, tight team which would demonstrate the feeling he was aiming for. One of these two people was Michiru Yamane, the composer of Bloodlines and other games. Since then, she has been involved with each of Iga's releases, taking on the console ones by herself and the handhelds cooperatively.
There's a common belief that Symphony's music is the best of the best. While this is a hefty compliment towards Igarashi's selection, it's an enormous one for the creator. When people think of Castlevania, a concept that arrives almost immediately is the atmosphere: what is derived from what the players
see and hear. Put simply, the series has some of the best music in the format.
I'm not big on the idea of shrugging off the validity of music in videogames. The infancy of the medium betrays the possible beauty of its aesthetics, quite often, to the nonchalant observer. I can listen to Masashi Hamauzu and get just as much, if not more, out of his stuff than Chopin or Debussy.
So. The statement carries weight - the game's music is surpassingly brilliant.
Part of why Yamane's score for Symphony works so well is that she seemed to understand exactly what was going on, what the game meant in the face of its relations. The project represented a difference. In a sense, the songs had to be extraordinary because backtracking and exploring was an integral new feature. The compositions needed to maintain the player's interest in the times they got lost and had to go through places again, instead of complimenting a stage's singular and straightforward appearance.
Super Metroid, the inspiration for the change Iga brought about, has music that's often amorphous enough to get by for long periods of time without aggravating or getting in the way. Considering it and Symphony's aims, there are obvious disparities. SotN is so much more of a solid thing - but even so, the latter's accomplishment of ambience is even more remarkable because of how foundational its melodies are. Let's put it this way: it's much easier to become tired with a game whose music is vague than it is to play one whose music is right there. And Symphony doesn't smartly tread this fine line, but frees itself from it and has locales where you want to move around in them longer to hear the theme loop a few more times.
For a long time, Super Castlevania 4 was the only installment to possess so much diversity in its styling. An argument can be made, I suppose, for it being drab, thus canceling out the variance, but even so, SCV4 was trying out a bunch of things: overwhelming bass lines, jungle beats, weirdly dissonant pianos, free jazz, and occasionally almost no tunes. Even with the wide repertoire of sounds, an overarching theme of gloom was maintained. This is mainly what separates it and SotN, instrumentally - bizarreness and overcast ambience in comparison to largeness and elegant adventure.
Yamane brings back the attitude of Bloodlines, a particular Baroque resolve. "Prayer of a Tragic Queen" was very obviously meant to be a harpsichord piece, and "Wood Carving Partita" could be viewed as its follow-up. There is a moment of quiet restrain in the very beginning, as if the invisible players are warming up - then, a sparkling, succinct harpsichord emerges with sweeping curtains of strings flowing on either side of it. It's rife with an alluring, real sense of the past. Dusty, organic curls stream from its body.
Skipping ahead of 1997, I would say that sensibility, ancientness, has been missing from the handhelds. Yamane is capable of coming up with inventive catchiness, like "Subterranean Hell". Yet, usually even the best have an almost temporary outline, as if they're replicating instead of being part of an entity. Maybe it has to do with the downgrade in sound quality. Perhaps creakiness like Harmony is the only direction containing power for the series on a handheld as of yet. Circle hasn't aged wonderfully, and the Sorrow games are hassled by a cheap MIDI hum.
Feh. I guess all I can do is say, "Oh, well." It's bothersome. Harmony's graphics were strange enough for the score to work, but Aria and Dawn (mostly Aria), being more in line with SotN, are just incomplete without the same finesse and grandeur in their music. If there's good that comes of this, it is that Symphony is all the more unique.
So, that resolve I mentioned. Yamane sprinkles it around, twisting it to meet precise needs. "Finale Toccata" is like the more still sections of Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor." It's not triumphant, though - looming and twisted may be the best expression. There is a section that repeats two times, building up layers until there's a veritable storm of exigent strings, organ notes, drums, and epic vocals at the end. You can almost see rows of shadowed arches, statues, and piercing spires.
Herein this song, and a couple others, is one of the weak spots of the soundtrack. It's just there are too few of them in the Inverted Castle. "Finale Toccata" is the longest in the game, and it's great. But
when you hear it in five places, it loses strength. I appreciate the idea of making the Inverted more of a uniform concept, but after the prior assortment, it's not enough. A couple additions would have been propitious.
While on the topic of the alternate Castle, there's also "Lost Painting." If you'd hear it without having played SotN, you'd probably wonder how it'd work in the context of Dracula's abode. Weirdly enough, it's one of the most cognizant and remarkable. The echoing, unreal breadth and air of the Inverted Caverns and Anti Chapel are mirrored in the lovely, bell-like instruments, soft beat, and wavering strings that all chime and drip up and down. This is a masterpiece. It conjures the imagery of its tiers conversing with one another in a wonderfully mesmerizing fashion.
The Inverted's other two new anthems are wildly chaotic. Despite not being ones I listen to outside of play, "Door of Holy Spirits" and "Curse Zone" are undoubtedly some of the most unnerving songs to make their way into the series. The former bleeds a hellish heat while the other recalls portions of the crazy "The Discolored Wall."
A drastic opposite, "Requiem for the Gods", from the Royal Chapel, is singularly halcyon, starting with a reflective choir, delving into an elite, judgmental tone when the drums and violins kick in, and one of valiance and redemption at the arrival of the high pitched organ. The feeling of the impossibly long staircase and stratospheric towers, of going somewhere, is fabulously symbolized.
Right next to the chapel is the Castle Keep. A transition is made, in all things, from the holy to the ominous. The interestingly named "Heavenly Gateway" welcomes its guests with a wretched cello and uneasy strings. Quickly, the pace is picked up with a beat, grim piano, and interjecting harpsichord as the violins return to play variations on the initial melody. Michiru knows exactly what she's doing as she contributes one of the series' spookiest songs, one that seemingly wails and slithers at its strongest point.
For all of its achievements in sound, Castlevania isn't the thing to look to when you want consistently good battle music. SotN doesn't revolutionize in this area; and it doesn't matter so much, since the fights in the game are very inconsequential.
They're (almost) all well suited, at least. "Black Banquet" has a pleasingly impetuous and heavy attitude. There's a remix of Richter's theme with "Opposing Bloodlines." "Festival of Servants" and "Death Ballad" are suitably fierce.
Honestly, the vocals in "Enchanted Banquet" imply a bit of brain damage. But, it's okay. You'll probably kill the Succubus before you hear the voice gurgle out most of her stuff.
So, Rika Muranaka and Cynthia Harrell are responsible for "I am the Wind." Its existence is baffling. The adventure is over, and?smooth jazz with singing that is "soulful"? Sure, bring on the unexpected, but, uh . . . make it compliment the rest. I'd have probably preferred something along the lines of "Evergreen." Maybe a piano and violin duet. Still, it's not bad. I do wonder what the team was thinking.
As eclecticism is a big part of the whole, here, it goes without saying that there's some pretty eccentric content. "Marble Gallery" is rather difficult to explain. I think the only comparable arrangement in video-game music would be that ditty you hear when you're in certain shops of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - the one of the Poe hunter, in particular. The sharpness of the drums and the fuzzy, sci-fi-ish main synth organize a substantially close, puzzling, and cultish ambiance.
Being one of the first songs I heard from Symphony, "Crystal Teardrops" has remained one of my very favorites, not just for the memories, but also for how truly good it is. A jazzy bass and falling strings set an
impeccable aura for the icy Underground Caverns. Everything about it is cool, from the warped drums to the mellow organ. A perfect location to occupy is found - not quick, and not detached.
"Rainbow Cemetery"'s swirly tone and kind of tribal rhythm would, like others, make you expect it to not function in the game's world (in the Catacombs, no less), and similarly, once you encounter the full deal you can't imagine anything else. Chattering bongos and looping instruments bring about a cold, darkly celebratory sensation that is unrepeated.
"Theme of Simon," "Beginning," "Bloodlines" - since their first game, Castlevania fans have been greeted by tunes that grip them by their shoulders and speak exactly what they want to hear. "Dracula's Castle" swoops in with curvy synths and a guitar, imitating the wind and thunder. Michiru then goes full force with a flexuous progression of horror-shaded notes, breaking away at the glorious climax for a brief reprieve of a far-off organ and twinkling sounds before slamming you right back into gravity.
Yamane has said that "Dance of Pales" is the song she is most satisfied with on the OST. It's not hard to see why. It has the initial delicacy of, say, "Ghostly Theatre" without any dramatic explosions. An illustrious piano courts the far off brass and woodwinds, and later gives way to encompassing strings. They are not there, but I can visualize stylishly dressed ghosts aerially waltzing to the music in Olrox's Quarters. While high-class, the composition stays true to the nocturnal mindset of Symphony and sinks the listener into a still ballroom of blackness.
Speaking of "Ghostly Theatre" : it's really the only environmental, orchestral theme of Iga's console games since 1997 that lacks a back-up beat. In this respect, SotN is all the more unique for having things like "Dance of Gold" and "Tower of Mist." Of course, there is a differing aim to be appreciated in the thumping "Garden Forgotten by Time," for instance, but, I must admit - I have a preference for the more ruminative and dignified mood Symphony's arrangements bring from their lack of aggressiveness.
Here is a game that created a whole new legion of fans and reinvigorated a number of old-timers. Many players remember innumerable things about it - but a point of common return is invariably the music. A team possessing such inspired artistic creativity has arguably never been seen since, or before. The composer is deserving of every bit of praise she gets, even if it is only for this.
At a certain time, this became more than a job for everyone - it became the realization of a sort of new genesis that was wrapped up in passion.