Silent Hill 2 Original Soundtrack
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Barely two years after the release of the original Silent Hill, was Konami hard at work with its sequel. The composer, Akira Yamaoka, had concocted a new soundtrack which would be considered his best effort from his fans worldwide. What makes the Silent Hill 2 soundscapes stand above the rest? Let’s find out.
The first track one hears is “Theme of Laura”, which begins with an acoustic guitar playing a melody in a similar fashion to the first Silent Hill opening theme. Barely 20 seconds into the piece, an electric guitar joins in, but plays a smooth rock ballad instead of head banging’ rock. This great opener shows Yamaoka’s affinity to rock elements in a majority of his works, past and present. After “Theme of Laura”, we are plunged into a collection of sad, depressing themes. “White Noiz” is the usual bizarre ambient piece only Yamaoka can pull, flowing steadily as it progresses; it sets the tone for the majority of the soundtrack, a depressing and somber one. “Forest”, while being initially beautiful, contains the feeling of loneliness and does its accompanying FMV sequence wonders.
While most of the themes here are from FMV sequences, the several in-game tracks present are equally as gripping and disturbing. The first one to come to mind is “Ashes and Ghost”, which sounds like a boss theme. The rapid and constant drumbeats gets the blood pumping as eerie sound effects come into play, which sounds like gargling and dashing altogether. At 1:40, it quiets down and gives way to a sound effect which sounds like a malfunctioning machine ripping through something, as you hear cries of torment and pain from creatures, which makes it one of the most disturbing themes. “The Darkness that lurks in our minds” is another freaky theme, it’s hard to tell what I’m hearing, but the best way to describe it is hearing someone going through a factory, scratching his nails on the wall as he slams metallic doors and finally starts some form of machinery, which sounds to be malfunctioning. To get the feel of desperation, “Noone Love You” is the one that represents the emotion best. The flowing synth and slow, depressing melody is enough to get you down even when you’re cheery, even for a short while. “Betrayal” is the theme which plays before the final showdown, metallic clangs and an eerie choir gives the scene it’s playing at so much impact. What follows is the final boss theme “Black Fairy”. It starts off in the same fashion as “Betrayal”, but the choir is replaced by a distorted female chant, which makes it one of the most bizarre if not frightening battle themes for a Survival Horror. The Ending Theme is a reprise of “Laura’s Theme”, but instead of going out with guitars, Yamaoka chose to use a melancholic violin and piano. It certainly works well with the climactic finale.
While I’ve only discussed a small part of the soundtrack, I think my thoughts cover what’s to be expected to this soundtrack well enough. If you are a fan of scary, ambient and depressing music, this CD is for you. Given Silent Hill’s decent success, the CD is still being printed and should be relatively easy to find.
Silent Hill 2 is one of the most atmospheric, scariest and best
sounding games ever in video gaming history. The game pulled you in
Silent Hill with great music, a gripping story, and a very scary mood
to it. And the music really helps make it a great experience.
Especially if you have a surround system. Now, on to the review.
Theme of Laura, the intro song for SH2, is one of the greatest opening
songs I have ever heard. You can actually feel the central theme of
this game. Despair, confusion, and sadness. It portrays those feelings
Most of the other tracks after that, are ambient tracks. They really
help create a dark, scary, and almost hopeless mood. One perfect
example is Track 30: Silent Heaven. If you listen to it while closing
your eyes, you will be scared. I guarantee it.
There also really sad tracks, such as Track 24: True. You can't help
but really feel the desperation and the Vanity of James's hopeless
search for Mary.
The Silent Hill 2 OST is really recommended if you like the game, or
if you like moody tracks. Go get it now!
Yes, yes, yes! Oh god yes! I think we can forgo all the detailed analysis and jump right to the conclusion: Silent Hill 2's soundtrack owns you, your family, and everyone you have ever known. But I guess if you're gonna be twisting my arm, I suppose I can drop some specifics for you. After all, you wouldn't trust a review that didn't prove its final rating, would you?
Opening tracks are always strong openers for the Silent Hill series. "Theme of Laura" presents exactly what it claims to, and it actually comes up a few times in the album. It's an instrumental rock piece, not too hard, not too poppy, with a little classic rock flair to it (must be the strong bass). Always moving and changing, this track doesn't leave you a moment to get bored with it. My favorite part comes at about 1:40 with an unexpected secondary theme, with the addition of a violin backup later on.
Moving into the second track, we enter our journey into ambience, and immediately you can tell that this is going to be a completely different creature than the Silent Hill 1 OST. Thankfully, it's for the better. "White Noiz", it is called, and rather than being of the "random sound effect" or the "pounding chaos" variety like in the prequel, it's a moody song with atmospheric droning that creates unusual harmonies. The following piece, "Forest", follows the same tone but in a different manner, combining echoey strings with a synth psuedo-melody that flutters around the keyboard with the delicacy of a Debussy piano piece. Next is "A World of Madness", which uses unusual harmony again, with some seemingly random chimey sounds that echo in and out of the musical darkness. Do you see a pattern here? No? Well good, because other than the fact that they're all ambient, they're all quite different! Yamaoka definitely learned his lesson from the overly-repetitive SH1 soundtrack.
Now that I've made my first important point, there's no reason to go track-by-track anymore. Let's look at some of the new styles of Silent Hill introduced by this OST. Track 18, "Love Psalm", could very well be a clone of the first track, at least in a style sense. It's a little harder and sadder than the first, though, but still very cool. "The Reverse Will" starts with a few seconds of background ambience, and then seems to go into yet another rock song. But it turns out to be more free-style, layering some backward voice effects and a really awesome flute melody on top of a drum rhythm. The voices turn out to be children saying their bedtime prayers -- not exactly the traditional backwards satanic voices, but creepy nonetheless. That's not all, "Overdose Delusion" and "Promise", a couple of the last tracks on the disc, put out more good rockish vibes. What I really want to talk about though is a the most surprising addition to the soundtrack, and one of my favorites, "Angel's Thanatos". It's bona fide hard-rock, not just in the game music sense, but it really does sound like it was put out by a real heavy metal band. Every second of it oozes distorted goodness, and although it's kind of repetitive, the hardness makes up for it.
Silent Hill 2 also has a soft side. The various piano pieces are a welcome addition; for example, "Promise (Reprise)" and "Magdalene", which are fairly minimal and use the piano as their main focus. Other songs like "True" and the ambient "Fermata in Mistic Air" make use of piano but have other stuff going on in the background. Finally, there is "Theme of Laura (Reprise)", which is every bit as cool as the original, but in piano. While a violin takes the melody, the piano and chimes weave some interesting counterpoint, making for a beautifully chilling track.
This soundtrack has it all. Yamaoka did everything right with this one, without losing the legacy created by the original. He even has a couple tracks like "Ashes and Ghost" that capture very nicely the style of the prequel. There is a wonderful pick of non-ambient tracks too, only this time the ambient tracks match them in their quality. It's also interesting to note that the ambience line is blurred for a lot of the tracks, and even in the strongly ambient ones there is a sense of individuality. The track ordering could not have been better, and it makes Silent Hill 2 one of the most fascinating soundtracks I've heard. Unless ambient music is a total turnoff for you, you're highly encouraged to check it out.