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Shadow the Hedgehog Original Soundtrax :: Review by Setnaro

Shadow the Hedgehog Original Soundtrax Album Title: Shadow the Hedgehog Original Soundtrax
Record Label: Wavemaster
Catalog No.: WM-0518/9
Release Date: February 22, 2006
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Shadow the Hedgehog is a dark doppelganger to the heroic feisty blue hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog. It was pretty surprising to me that Shadow got his own game. One that was very dark, perhaps too dark, with its use of cursing and weaponry, like your basic set of guns. As strange as this all sounds to come out of the Sonic franchise, this is exactly what happened behind the premise of Shadow the Hedgehog, but if there's one other factor that helped make the approach of the game appear even more darker, it was the music itself. Directed by Jun Senoue, the soundtrack behind Shadow the Hedgehog served as his purpose to experiment various styles pertaining to bits and pieces of Nu-Metal, Heavy Metal, and Hard Rock. While Shadow the Hedgehog remains to be a highly controversial game, is the music worth listening to outside this shooter title? Or does the dark approach mean it should stay in the shadow? Here it is, the Shadow the Hedgehog Original Soundtrack.


The music behind Shadow the Hedgehog follows an incredibly high focus on Nu-Metal. A lot of songs can be easily grouped together based on how they sound like, and what kind of approach Jun wanted to follow. Unfortunately, a lot of these songs that can be hand picked and, when given a listen to, come off as completely uninspiring, repetitive, and very ugly. Some examples would be "Westopolis", "Black Bull", and "Death Ruins". The rhythm guitar follows the same basic chords and sticks with it the whole way through, and the only thing that helps make the tracks a little more diverse are the pretty strange use of weird sound effects and chirping synthesizers that are heard pretty faintly in the background. Some themes, like "Cryptic Castle" and "Diablon", use a pretty decent lead guitar performance, but still fails to deliver any kind of song that can be considered memorable.

However, there were a few tracks that were notable even though they used the same rhythm guitar formula. Several made a nice use of the lead guitar, and overall, managed to click into a particular kind of sound that I was able tolerate enough to enjoy. "Lethal Highway" starts off rather interestingly with the sound of a motorcycle, as it tries to start the engine, and once it turns over, drives off into the distance, while the synthesizer helps lead the theme into yet another dark guitar performance. What I love about this track, though, is its very funky bass performance. When the intro settles, the lead guitar begins the melody that makes the whole track enjoyable to listen to with the help of the seemingly elaborate bass guitar. Very progressive, a bit basic, but nonetheless a much better theme.

Aside from the Heavy Metal the soundtrack tries to convey, there are several soft rock tracks, trance mixes, and piano ballads worth listening to. "Lost Impact" would be a perfect example of a piano ballad. This song was composed to help emphasise the sadness that foreshadows on Shadow losing the person he most cared about, Maria. This piece uses a pretty wonderful combination of piano and drums. Both instruments play out a very simple tune, though the piano sometimes play out a small elaborate section every once in a while. Not a very diverse track and yet its simplicity stands out in the entire soundtrack.

Some tracks take away the rhythm guitar focus and emphasise the lead much more to create a soft rock feel. "Gun Fortress" is a perfect example of this, and is by far my favorite track on this soundtrack. A very espionage-inspired track, the main focus is the very chilling and relaxing acoustic guitar, something you expect from someone like Carlos Santana. The drums play very softly while strongly focusing on the cymbals as the sticks softly and repetitively hit away to help emphasise the feeling of being a spy sneaking into an industrial setting. Exclusive to the soundtrack is a special section where the drums actually kick in and play fiercely loud, much like a real rock band would. This actually helped my already favorite song continue being one of my top choices.

Another theme that doesn't focus too much on the rhythm guitar is "Black Comet". This track focuses more on the drums with bits and pieces from a rising lead guitar. While not as sneaky as "Gun Fortress", this track also conveys a feeling of espionage, clearly focusing more on the sounds of cymbals as the drums play it out much faster then the previous track. The piece also makes some strange use of quivering sound effects as provided from the synthesizer itself. While I'm not a fan of that particular kind of musical approach, especially one to mix in with the guitar, the sound effects heard in this track are pretty OK.

Then there are themes that are way different on the style and genre that can't be categorized anywhere else. "Circus Park", as the title suggests, was composed to sound like a very demonic circus performance, almost akin to a theme called "The Man on the Flying Trapeze". Using fanfares, organs, and even mouth pop sounds, combined with a dark electric bass, the result is a theme that will make anyone scared of clowns. Another theme that doesn't follow a basic formula, "The Ark" is a rocktronica composed to help feel the action of zero gravity. The rhythm guitar, while not as prominent as other selected themes, plays out very well with the dark trance infusions. Strangely enough, it also uses a weird vocal sample repetitively screaming "BACK TO THE ARK!" or something of that nature.

The rest of the soundtrack is incredibly heavy with event cues. Since there were quite a lot of scenes in Shadow the Hedgehog, a lot of tracks had to be composed to help set the feeling of any pertaining scene, but since a lot of the scenes are pretty short, all we get on this soundtrack are very short bursts of uninspiring "dramatic" cues, each lasting no more than 40 seconds or so. The musical style designed for these events range from orchestral, to soft piano, to the very painful and dark Nu-Metal once again. The storyline behind Shadow the Hedgehog, although pretty informative, was for the most part boring. That's also exactly what I got when I tried to hear all the event themes that are categorized on this album.


I can see where Jun Senoue tried his best to fit the environment for Shadow the Hedgehog. While I can say there were plenty of decent themes to listen to on this soundtrack, those decent tracks are shrouded by tracks that tried so hard at being dark with its Nu-Metal, and ultimately failing, much like how the game ended up being to a lot of Sonic fans. Even as a Jun Senoue fan, I found myself skipping a lot of these themes, and only making my way to some of my hand picked favorites, like "Gun Fortress", "Black Comet", and "Circus Park". It's pretty pathetic to give a listen to a two disc soundtrack that carries 80+ tracks, and the amount of favorites I have can't even go as high as the amount of fingers I have on one hand. If you've played the game, chances are, you may have been able to hand pick your themes worth listening to already, but it won't be enough to give a full purchase for this original soundtrack.

Overall Score: 6/10