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Sin and Shin's Music Review

Welcome to the first weekly music review at RPG! Our goal is help people see the soundtracks they listen to in a better light as well as well as help the rpg music lovers out there know what to get and know what crap they should stay the hell away from before they're stuck listening to something so bad, they'll want to drive ice picks into their ears to relieve the pain. This week in the spolight is the soundtrack to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Unfortunately, the samples we've provided for you are in real audio, but they're good quality and you can download them here.
Sinistral Shinryuu
The first time I played CV:SotN, one of the things which struck me the most was the music because of how well it fit the title: it was symphonic! It actually sounded classical. However, it wasn't anything like Mozart or Bach, it had its own style which fit perfectly into the game, only enhancing the player's enjoyment of the game. The darker areas of the game and the battle music had gothic and rock aspects to them, while other places, like the chapel, were far more serene.I'd say about 3/4 of the soundtrack is composed of some of the best game music I've heard. I'll start with those I enjoyed less and work my way up.

I'd have to say that "I am the Wind" has got to be one of the biggest vocal flops in vg music history. It hurts to listen to this song, its so bad. It should be used as an example in music classes for how NOT to make a song. If that wasn't bad enough, it contrasts horribly to the rest of the game. This is supposed to be a dark, moody, gothic video game about vampire slaying and demon killing.

The Metamorphisis tracks are obviously not that great. They barely last a minute and are simply meant to accompany the 3 short movie clips where the player gets a view of Dracula's castle. Unlike I am the Wind, they at least fit the mood. I figure they only belong on the cd for completion sake.

The Abandoned Pit is an ambient song too. Its nice they didn't waste a good song for a section as small as the Abanadoned Mines, but do I really want to listen to a bunch of little animals making noises with a couple of piano keys played over and over again?

The tracks in the inverted castle are a big disapointment too. Fitting, but they seem so lifeless compared to the rest of the soundtrack. Those tracks are The Black Feast (banquet), The Final Tocatta, The Door to the Abyss and the Heavenly Doorway. I'll put it simply: These are boring. Considering The Final Tocatta lasts a long time doesn't help either... This isn't music you listen to because you want to admire its beauty. These are really well made to fit their part. Its a shame they didn't make more tracks for the inverted castle because The Final Tocatta gets annoying in the game too.

Finally, the last songs I don't like isn't because they're bad, its because they're so high pitched: The Rainbow Cemeterry. I just don't like that kinda music...And Blood Relations. This song had potential but the way it was sliced up and had bits of high pitched noise in between the good parts simply got on my nerves.

Now , looking at the good stuff in CV SotN, its really hard to pick which I like best... The Prologue is a really nice way to start of the game because of all the energy in it. Its an electric guitar based song that doesn't last very long, but it helps pump the player for the upcoming battle against Dracula.

The battle music in the game is also exquisite. Each song is very different from the next, but each is of very high quality. Starting off the game with the Illusionary Dance, one of the recurring songs in the castlevania series was a good idea. The organ being the main instrument with the drums in the background really give the song a gothic feel. Its very dramatic and represents Dracula nicely. The Festival of Servants is the usual boss song. Instead of being a classical song, its more of a hard rock/metal, fast paced song. Its very dramatic. The Death Ballad is a more epic battle song and it is rightly kept for the bigged bosses. It wouldn't make sense to play this in a battle against a Lesser Demon. Though its not as nice to listen to as the other 2, its quite nice nonetheless. As for the Enchanted Banquet, this is the nice "vocal" of the soundtrack. Its sounds like a woman moaning in pain at first and then it gets louder and louder. It builds up to a certain point, giving the song a lot of drama. Very cool.

The Tragic Prince is another rock tune, its mostly done by electric guitar and is easily one of the coolest songs made for any video game. A song like this, I have heard nowhere else.

Most of the rest of the songs I didn't name, until now are more mellow: The Crystal Teardrops, The Dance of Gold, Requiem for the Gods and Wood Carving Palteta to name a few are all excellent representations of different classical styles, except for Awakened Soul, which has more of a jazzy, but nice, tone to it. If I went over each of these songs one by one, I'd be repeating myself a lot and I'd be saying mostly what Shin is saying about them about their styles. This is great music and it is so well done that the fact so few of them loop (SoM Syndrome) is forgiveable. These are what make this soundtrack a must for any video game music lover. Its so good that it is still on sale in many places, unlike other soundtracks which go out of print before anyone knows they're out.

The year is 1997, the Playstation makes its way into the console market, and companies like Squaresoft were busy releasing Final Fantasy VII while Capcom were working on the new MegaMan 8. Konami, had an ace up their sleeve called Castlevania : Symphony of the Night. The game itself has made a huge success in Japan as well as in North America. One of the finest music composers, Michiru Yamane, was given the difficult task of writing the score to the latest Castlevania game. The music itself, is nothing short of amazing. Mr. Yamane has incorporated many styles that we never thought would fit the mood pefectly, one of those styles was orchestra, classic orchestra, surely inspired by great 19th century musical legends like Mozart and Bach. Still, Symphony of the Night was blessed by the trademark " rock " style as well. The combination of both styles has brought us one of the most varied Video Game Soundtracks ever released, possibly only rivaled by Squaresoft's Soundtracks. Now, I will do my best to describe each track. Let us start. Note : It would be a great experience to listen to the soundtrack while reading this review.

1. Metamorphosis 1 : The Intro FMV music, you are being brought back to 1796 where the battle between good and evil takes place. A creepy intro, but very fitting.

2. Prologue : Music which plays in Richter's Scenario, this is a perfect example of the rock style music brought from past Castlevania games.

3. Illusionary Dance : Dracula's Battle theme, which originated from Dracula X for the Turbo Duo. It's slightly arranged here, and of course has become a classic to many fans.

4. Nocturne in the Moonlight : The Prologue Theme. Wow ! Now this is incredible, a true orchestral masterpiece if I do say so myself. This is among the really good tracks in the CD.

5. Prayer : A track wich features some women chanting " Key Largo ", much like the Requiem of Dracula X Duo. Perfect for starting your adventure.

6. Dracula's Castle : Played in the castle entrance, this is again a nice rock track.

7. Dance of Gold : Played in the Alchemy Laboratory, this is a brilliant classic orchestral track.

8. Marble Gallery : Played in the Marble Gallery, not quite orchestral, but you quickly learn to love this track for some reason or another.

9. Tower of Mist : Played in the Outer Wall, this is another of the great orchestral tracks found on the CD.

10. Nocturne : As far as I know, this is the ending theme to the Saturn version of NitM, how did it end up here, who knows ?

11. Wood Carving Parpita : Played in the Long Library, a lovely orchestral track that somehow sounds similar to Bloodlines' Prayer of a Tragic Queen.

12. Door of Holy Spirits : Played in the Inverted Colleseum, it has some cellos or violins in the background, very nice.

13. Festival of Servants : The " normal " boss theme, starts out with a grinding electric guitar, then the drums join in, accompanied by more electric guitar, making it one of anyone's favorite CV boss track as of far.

14. Land of Benediction : The Game Over music, there's not much to say about this.... :/

15. Requiem for the Gods : Played in the Royal Chapel, a spooky sounding track, which has a female chant accompanied by well placed gongs of a funeral bell as well as an organ. This is one of the best tracks on the CD.

16. Crystal Teardrops : Played in the Underground Caverns, a depressing but still amazing track, kinda has a jazzy feel to it.

17. Abandoned Pit : Played in the Abandoned Mines, this is mostly an ambient track which has animal's screeching as well as other noises.

18. Rainbow Cemetary : Played the Catacombs, it's pretty upbeat and is difficult to NOT enjoy it.

19. Silence : I have no idea where this is played, so I can't comment on it....

20. Lost Painting : Played in the Inverted Chapel as well as a few other places, it's a very beautiful and tranquil track.

21. Dances of Pales : Played in Olrox's Quarters, this is the most beautiful orchestral track in the entire CD, you just have to hear it to beleive it.

22. Curse Zone : Played in the Inverted Catacombs, it's a bit annoying since it's high pitched.

23. Enchanted Banquet : The battle theme for Succubus and Medusa, a female vocal plays throughout the entire track, a bizzare and unique boss track.

24. Awakened Soul : Played in the Coleseum, this is another of the jazz/techno tracks, and it fits the mood perfectly.

25. Tragic Prince : Played in the Clock Tower, let's face it, this has to be the greatest hard rock song in Castlevania history, it's long but boy does it rule !!! :D

26. The door to the Abyss : This is played right before you face off with Shaft, it's ambient with some grunts here and there.

27. Heavenly Doorway : Played in the Castle Keep and Inverted Castle Keep, it's very good, although there's nothing else that comes to mind about this track.

28. Death Ballad : The Big Boss theme ( Hippogryff, Olrox, Granfallon, Death, etc... ), an orchestral boss theme like no other.

29. Blood Relations : This is used in the great fight vs Richter, it's a remix of Bloodlines, the level 1 tune from Dracula X Duo. Very nice indeed.

30. Metaporphosis 2 : Played during the FMV when the inverted castle appears.

31. Final Toccata : Played in most of the Inverted Castle, another orchestral masterpiece, but since you hear it so often, it can get annoying.

32. Black Banquet : The last boss theme for Dracula sitting on whatever the thing is... anyways, I like it, but it could've been better.

33. Metamorphosis 3 : Played during the last FMV, fits the mood.

34. I am The Wind : Played during the credits, sung by Cynthia Harrel, I think it's nice, but it is very laid back.

In conclusion, I say that this CD is worth importing, even though it suffers from SoM syndrome, it's no reason not to get it.