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Biohazard The Darkside Chronicles Darkside Symphony :: Review by Chris

Biohazard The Darkside Chronicles Darkside Symphony Album Title: Biohazard The Darkside Chronicles Darkside Symphony
Record Label: Capcom
Catalog No.: Promotional
Release Date: January 14, 2010
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles is the second rail shooter game for the Resident Evil series and features both original scenarios and reinterpretations of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil: Code Veronica. Despite being a mere spinoff, Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles actually features the highest musical production values of any Resident Evil game. Rather than outsource to Hollywood again, the sound directors decided to stick to Japan for this production, and hired masterful orchestrator Yoshihisa Hirano (Final Fantasy XIII, Death Note) to create a series of dark, artistic, and action-packed arrangements for full orchestra. Nevertheless, Resident Evil 2's Shusaku Uchiyama and Resident Evil: Code Veronica's Takeshi Miura also returned to offer both arrangements of their own music and a number of original compositions too. A bonus with the limited edition Japanese version of the game, Darkside Symphony gives some insight into their offerings...


The promotional album opens with an a capella interpretation of the vocal theme "Sleeping Beauty". The melody immediately captures listeners with its elegant yet haunting shape. While the vocalist is clearly well-trained, she doesn't seem entirely suited to the theme, due to both her heavy American accent and somewhat youthful tone. This is less of a problem in the full version of the track, featured on the main soundtrack, and many will still enjoy her distinctive performance here. Listeners also get a glimpse into the game's "Overture", an eerie cue clearly written in the spirit of Resident Evil 4's cinematic compositions. However, sadly it's a short one and the full version on the main soundtrack is far better.

The rest of the album is dedicated to phenomenal orchestral tutti. "The Third Malformation of 'G'" starts things with a bang with an even more bombastic interpretation of Resident Evil 2's final boss theme. Like the original, it combines an operatic vocal interpretation of the game's main theme with stabbing militaristic instrumentals. However, thanks to the greatly improved production values, a true soprano now performs the theme in conjunction with numerous brass and percussion players. Yoshihisa Hirano's orchestration enhances the Herrmann-esque sound of the original and also introduces numerous experimental features, such as dissonant piano clusters, eerie trombone glissandi, and a web of countermelodies. The sound is distinctly 'odd', even compared with the original, and takes some time to get used to. Nevertheless, the effect is so fitting and impacting nevertheless.

Looking elsewhere on the album, listeners are offered even more impressive cues in the two variations of "The Theme of Alexia". These tracks maintain the operatic focus and violent orchestration, but take things a step further with their more expansive melodies and charismatic interludes. In fact, the development sections of these themes are reminiscent of arias from the great romantic opera composers, yet with a deliciously dark twist. What could be a better way to represent Code Veronica's divine yet utterly malevolent antagonist? "Sorrow" maintains the vocal focus with a choral performance Tokyo Konsel Gassyoudan. This brisk march-like composition perfectly captures a sense of being faced and trapped by an ultimate league of zombies: instantly impacting, ever-expanding, and never-relenting. The final choral cue, "Blood Relation", is considerably shorter but even more emotional and striking overall.

The album is also host to a number of instrumental compositions. Following its introduction, Resident Evil 2's "'T'-B" reflects the style of action arrangements to expect from the Darkside Chronicles soundtrack. It's deceptively similar to the original, essentially offering a commanding interpretation of the militaristic melody against urgent beats. However, the arrangers added numerous intricacies into arrangement, such as some gorgeous interplay and echoing from strings and brass, or some vulgar prepared brass techniques. "Water Devil" introduces an ethnic component to the soundtrack with its racing percussion, before shockingly descending into near-random cacophony, with repeating brass discords and a fluster of pizzicato strings. "Game of Oblivion" is another defining modernist composition that continues the very experimental modernist-styled composition and full-blown orchestral performances.


Clearly, Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles has taken the music for the Resident Evil series to the next level. While the series' music has been interpreted with orchestral performances before, never have they been so artistic and original. What's more, it's clear from this sampler that the sound team understand the various types of arrangements needed to also fit the rail shooter game. However, this particular sampler is rather short and does not include a number of the highlights from the full two disc score. Unless you already own the limited edition game, it's therefore best to skip this sampler and head straight for the main score.

Overall Score: 7/10