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Akumajo Dracula Curse of Darkness Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Akumajo Dracula Curse of Darkness Original Soundtrack Album Title: Akumajo Dracula Curse of Darkness Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Konami Digital Entertainment
Catalog No.: GFCA-34/5
Release Date: November 30, 2005
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


While Castlevania: Lament of Innocence and Castlevania: Curse of Darkness shared a number of features, including mediocre reviews, their scores by Michiru Yamane are actually very different. Whereas the former took the series in a mature classically-oriented direction, the latter is dominated by cheesy rock compositions reminiscent of the series' classics. The resultant soundtrack will appeal to fans of the series' music, although not all of the tracks on its two disc soundtrack release are worthwhile.


Right from the first stage theme, "Abandoned Castle", Michiru Yamane shows that the series has returned to its rocking roots. The track doesn't inspire rich imagery or evoke deep emotions, and instead just entertains listeners with its upbeat melodies and pleasant soundscapes, just as so many series' favourites did in the past. It nevertheless manages to exceed its ancestors with its cutting-edge implementation and extensive development, facilitating by the technological freedom offered by the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Yamane further develops this approach with her fusions of orchestra, beats, and ethnic instruments on "Baljhet Mountains", "Mortvia Fountain", and "The Forest of Jigramunt". They're not particularly deep fusions, but are sufficiently lyrical and individualised to warrant repeated listens.

The battle themes on Castlevania: Curse of Darkness are also a significant contrast from the approach of its direct predecessor with their upbeat rocking tones. Yamane offers three different versions of "Followers of Darkness" to represent different encounters, each blending hard rock instrumentation with gothic orchestration. The core theme is an excellent accompaniment to combat, featuring some of the best rhythm guitar writing of the series, though the variations are too scarcely differentiated to offer much appeal. There are a number of special battle themes on this release too. Whereas "Legendary Belmont" and the amusingly titled "Young Nobleman of Madness" are yet more rip-roaring rock themes, "The Visitor in the Silk Hat" has a more modernist orchestral influence.

That said, there are some more mature efforts on Castlevania: Curse of Darkness. For example, "Garibaldi Temple" is a fitting Baroque-influenced theme that interweaves colourful orchestration with harpsichord continuo. "The Cave of Jigramunt" is one of the more experimental tracks on the soundtrack, fusing various electronic and orchestral forces in a moody and alien way, while "Aiolon Ruins" takes the score towards its climax with its conflicted stylings and surprising thematic reprises. Used during the final battle, "A Toccata into a Blood-Soaked Darkness" is one of the main highlights of the entire soundtrack. While the passagework sounds a little too close to Yamane's past work, it compensates with its awesome gothic rock stylings. The final theme manages to be uplifting without being overbearing.

While the central themes of Castlevania: Curse of Darkness are excellent, the score is let down by its abundance of filler tracks. There are more cinematic sequences in the game than previous Castlevania titles, most of which don't exceed the 90 minute mark. Yamane underscores each of these themes in a functional way using dramatic orchestrations or moody ambience, yet rarely offers much of stand-alone appeal. The likes of "The One Who Manipulates Time" and "Catacombs of Grief and Sadness" are particularly unnecessary. To close the soundtrack, Yamane engages in a surprising but generic collaboration with the people's tenor Russell Watson, "True To Your Dreams". She also provides an extended version of the once unremarkable "Prologue" and an arrangement of the underrated "Eneomaos Machine Tower" to round off the album.


Overall, Castlevania: Curse of Darkness returns to the upbeat and rocking roots of the franchise while offering cutting-edge fusions and synthesis. While the various setting and action themes are enjoyable here, the soundtrack is nevertheless let down by an abundance of filler tracks. Many may prefer its condensed presentation on the game's promotional sampler or series' box set instead of its full version here. Either way, there is plenty of fun music to be found in this release.

Overall Score: 8/10