Devil May Cry The Animated Series Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris
The music of the Devil May Cry has considerably changed over time, but common elements have remained such as a gothic tone, a cocky attitude, and lots of stylistic diversity. The 12 episode animated series for the franchise was externally developed so no Capcom composers were involved in its score. Nevertheless, a clear effort was made to keep the common elements of the series alive resulting in the recruitment of numerous composers known by the collective Rungran. The soundtrack aimed to enhance the series' mainstream appeal with its integration of rock, electronic, and pop music created by several bands and DJs. However, it intended to convincingly underscore events with a mixture of dramatic orchestrations and sensitive instrumental solos. Is it a worthy addition to the series?
Takeshi Hama's main theme "d.m.c" opens the soundtrack with an utterly captivating blend of gliding strings, rapid electronic beats, hard drum rolls, and dazzling piano decorations. The bright expressive melody of this theme literally grabs listeners and takes them on a wild emotional journey. The are plenty of twists and turns during its playtime, most notably a reflective piano and string interlude exhibiting the series' gothic sound, though the forces all return for the action-packed finale. The theme also appears in a little-changed but still very exciting band remix and the simple touching piano solo "Pain". A more abstract arrangement is the sinister orchestration "Blue Line", presented by experienced string and brass groups. The theme is recapitulated with a gut guitar arrangement made especially expressive by Hama's expressive and virtuosic performance.
Moving on to the mainstream-oriented tracks, "Lynch's mood" is styled somewhat like a Tetsuya Shibata battle theme with its construction upon repeated gristly bass riffs. However, the sophisticated fusion with hardcore beats and treble distortions also reflects suble's experience with electronica. "Dance" is another blend of rock and electronica, but this is much more upbeat and exuberant with its lyrical melodies and superbly done acoustic and electric guitar solos. DJ JETBIKINI's "The Reaper" is a delightful synthpop theme carried by perhaps the catchiest motif on the soundtrack while "Blue Rose" is a psychedelic trance track with some horrifying sound effects. Shigekazu Aida's "Steep Slope" is straightforward head-banging rock, though effective in energising a climactic encounter. Overall, there is a good variety of rock and electronic themes to keep the attitude of Dante alive.
Tsutumi blends a wonderful Spanish guitar solo into light electronica soundscapes in "faint". Conveying imagery of a new dawn, Kenji Fujii's "Life is on you" is a laid-back unplugged composition that grows more elaborate in the second half with the addition of a second guitar. "Seidaku" is another impressively styled guitar-based theme, though is far more repetitive than the others. "under the sun" is the most heartrending addition to the soundtrack using feathery piano work in combination with ephemeral synth and a gorgeous string ensemble. While the novelty value is initially welcome, the Scott Joplin parody "LAST RAG" quickly becomes one of the few out-of-place and irritating tracks additions to the soundtrack. In contrast to essentially all other tracks, it doesn't have the emotional intensity or energetic pace to keep listeners mesmerised.
Classically-trained film composer Gabriele Roberto offers most of the orchestral themes in the soundtrack. One of the few orchestral action themes of the series, "Fight!" is unusual for the way it builds tension by obsessively repeating several dissonant yet somehow catchy motifs while subtly achieving a satisfying dramatic arch. "F.O.E." takes influence from Jerry Goldsmith with its rasping brass motifs and powerful rhythmic drive while his arrangement of "Evil Spirit" blends orchestral dissonance with the series' grungy bass riffs. "Netherworld" is full of the malice of the underworld with its organ-dominated soundscapes while "Dante's Might" goes all out with the horror movie clichés as the climax approaches. "Victory" rounds off his contribution with a glistening Puccini orchestration that convincingly resolves the album's dramatic arch. While sometimes derivative, Roberto's orchestrations are certainly mature and emotional.
Moving on to the vocal themes, "Room DESPAIR" is the animation's answer to the heavy metal themes of Devil May Cry 3. Yet while strongly bass-punctuated and distorted throughout, Aimee B's vocals adds feminity to the theme and the lyrical chorus section and guitar solo are clearly pop-influenced. "FUTURE IN MY HANDS" is an alternative rock theme that makes up for its rather unappealing verse with a very fresh and catchy chorus and some experimental solos. After these contributions, it's perhaps disappointing that the ending theme "I'll be your home" is a conventional pop ballad with a vanilla melody. However, it will still be attractive to mainstream listeners and there are interesting features such as another of Hiroaki Tsutsumi's wonderful guitar solos and a piano-based ending.
Devil May Cry The Animated Series Original Soundtrack is one of the most colourful and emotional soundtracks in the series. It nicely builds upon the approaches of its predecessors while taking opportunity of a budget for live performances. It also introduces new elements to the series with cinematic orchestrations, elaborate classical guitar work, mainstream-oriented electronica, and pop-influenced vocal themes. Despite its diversity, almost every single theme comes together to create a satisfying collective whole. It's as gothic, cocky, and eclectic as a Devil May Cry soundtrack should be with an additional layer of freshness and exuberance to boot. Overall, a very accessible and enjoyable listen.
Overall Score: 8/10