Silent Hill 2 Original Soundtracks :: Review by Kero Hazel
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 thanks to 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 Original Soundtracks. 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 Silent Hill 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 soundtrack. Track 18, "Love Psalm", could very well be a clone of the first track, at least in a stylistic 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" are fairly minimal and use the piano as their main focus. Other tracks 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 on 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.
Overall Score: 9/10