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Akumajo Dracula Gallery of Labyrinth Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Akumajo Dracula Gallery of Labyrinth Original Soundtrack Album Title: Akumajo Dracula Gallery of Labyrinth Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Konami Style
Catalog No.: LC-1541/2
Release Date: March 23, 2007
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


In 2006, Castlevania celebrated its 20th anniversary with its second DS instalment, Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (aka Akumajo Dracula: Gallery of Labyrinth). Michiru Yamane intended the score for the title to be one worthy of the series' grand legacy and even invited legendary composer Yuzo Koshiro to make a few guest contributions. A few months after the game was released, Konami released a two disc album for the score, making it the first time a portable game in the series received its own release.


As with most Castlevania soundtracks, the main highlight of Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin are the various stage themes. "Gaze Up at the Darkness", for instance, continues Michiru Yamane's tradition of creating powerful rock-orchestral anthems. It's up there with "Dracula's Castle" with its catchy melodies and dramatic effect. Those looking for more subtle depictions will enjoy "Silent Prison", which is a somewhat slower and darker twist on the series' typical anthem, while "Behind the Gaze" and "Chaotic Playground" reflect Yamane's strengths in creating ghostly neo-classical dances. Other highlights include "Sandfall" and "Hail from the Past", which blend Middle Eastern tonalities with Yamane's personal stylings. While a peculiar addition to the series, the latter is especially entertaining with its rhythmically compelling electronic beats.

Beyond the stage themes, Yamane continues doing what she does best in "Name Entry", blending the influence of Baroque composers with a dark fantasy aesthetic, and also inspires a tear with her expressive woodwind writing on "A Small Prayer". Less impressive are event themes such as blaring "Operation VT" or generic "Faraway Days", though these tracks are still effective in the game and there is little real filler here. Yamane also references a few series' favourites during the course of the soundtrack. "Iron Blue Intention" is a suitably punchy rendition of her most famous theme from her debut series score, Castlevania: Bloodlines, while "Bloodlines of Heaven and Earth" is a blistering rock rendition of the Dracula: Rondo of Blood anthem.

The most impressive contributions of the entire soundtrack are provided by Yuzo Koshiro, who was pleased to serve as a guest contributor having enjoyed the series since its inception. "Invitation of a Crazed Moon" continues the series' tradition of having rocking first stage themes, but is somehow fresher and richer than its various predecessors, thanks to its slick synthesis and rhythmical idiosyncracies. "The Gears Go Awry" is also a tremendously catchy track, blending rocking melodies with harpsichord continuo. Among Koshiro's other contributions, "Destroyer" and "Banquet of Madness" stand out against other boss themes, thanks to their more polished orchestration and explicit avant-garde influence. However, "Dance of Sadness" is more outwardly pleasing with its gushing romantic orchestration and piano-based interlude.

Note that each disc of this soundtrack release features identical music in two different versions. The first disc features the game's music once it has been downgraded for the DS, while the second disc features the original versions of the music. Suikoden's Norikazu Miura did an excellent job overcoming the technical limitations of the DS and often improves upon the originals in terms of balance. However, the sampling of the original versions is generally better and will be most people's disc of choice. Note that the arrangements of "Simon's Theme" closing each disc are distinct, one a fitting homage by Miura, the other a somewhat less impressive arrangement by Yamane. It's therefore worth listening to both discs given the subtleties in their sampling and the exclusive arrangements.


The soundtrack for Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin is a fine way to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the series. Yamane's music continues the stylistic tradition she established on Castlevania: Symphony of the Night with enjoyable new melodies and several classic reprises. However, Koshiro's contributions are the most impressive of all with their rich construction and individual touches. As probably the best of the series' portable scores, this soundtrack is highly recommended for fans of the Castlevania sound.

Overall Score: 8/10