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Spawn ~In the Demon's Hand~ Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Spawn ~In the Demon's Hand~ Original Soundtrack Album Title: Spawn ~In the Demon's Hand~ Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Suleputer
Catalog No.: CPCA-1036
Release Date: February 19, 2000
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Spawn: In the Demon's Hand is an Arcade and Dreamcast brawler featuring the comic book character Spawn. Its score was created by Capcom veterans Yuki Iwai (Mega Man X2, Street Fighter III), her husband Takayuki Iwai (War-Zard, Star Gladiator 2), and Isao Abe (Street Fighter Zero, Star Gladiator). They aimed to convey the action of the game and the character of the anti-hero with a rock focus. The result was fitting in the game, but did it stand up some well on a stand-alone basis? One thing in particular ensured it didn't...


The most characteristic feature of Spawn: In the Demon's Hand — and incidentally it's worst — is its use of grungy rhythm guitar riffs during the stage themes. Superficially, these riffs are good for establishing the murky and aggressive tone of the game. However, the implementation leaves much to be desired. The riffs often feel imbalanced with the rest of the pieces because of their prominent, somewhat jarring synth. Worse still, all the riffs revolve around the same two or three chords and each uses a similar pattern of following a fast aggressive rhythm with a loud sustained chord. This superficial and repetitive approach to conveying the mood of the game simply does not sustain long playtimes well. After hearing three stage themes consecutively — never mind the whole 13 presented in a row in the soundtrack — it's difficult not to get a headache.

Most of the stage themes work moderately well in context despite the recurring problem of the bass riffs. "Ice Frontier" provides an atmospheric accompaniment to ice field by intersynching hard rhythms with boundless strings and occasional electronic frills. "Break the Silence" gives a covert feel to cavern exploration by mixing ambient and urban influences, while "Demonoid Phenomenon" conveys imagery of a dark laboratory well with a rhythmically compelling fusion. However, some themes demand that the bass riffs are even more overbearing than usual, such as the Blast Furnace's "Crimson Pool" or the Fire Stage's "Fuel My Fire". There themes completely fail on a stand-alone basis given there is little novelty to break up the repetition of the same rhythms and sustained notes of the rest. That said, "Deserted Territory" makes surprisingly good use of the guitar since a lead guitar rather than rhythm guitar is at the forefront for once.

The themes that haven't been discussed all quickly bore or annoy due to their adherence to riffs. This applies to the various subsidiary and menu themes too, which are minimally developed and, with the exception of the short results theme, have no unique features. Probably the biggest disappointment of all is the completely uninteresting final boss theme. This theme simply intersynchs an even more tired bass riff than usual with occasional dabs of suspended strings or electronic synth here. While the opening vocal theme was never released on an album, the ending vocal theme "Dress Is Torn" made it and adds some much-needed novelty to the soundtrack. The bass-driven instrumentals are a little dull and the lyrics are dubious to say the least (I'm pretty sure the chorus ends with "My parents think I'm queer"!). However, the fairly strong rock 'n roll vocals provide the right mood for the game and there's even a short harmonica solo. That's enough for it to be better than the rest of the album.


The Spawn ~In the Demon's Hand~ Original Soundtrack is a disappointing and homogenous effort given the talent of the composers behind it. The major problem with the score is its endless rhythm guitar riffs, but even without them, the effort feels superficial and half-hearted. While the score fits the mood of the game nicely and a few of the themes characterise their stages quite well, there's nothing that stands out as particularly enjoyable here due to the recurring riffs. Definitely one of the weakest Capcom soundtracks, it's not worth your time or money.

Overall Score: 3/10