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Castlevania Lament of Innocence Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Castlevania Lament of Innocence Original Soundtrack Album Title: Castlevania Lament of Innocence Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Konami Digital Entertainment
Catalog No.: GFCA-32/3
Release Date: November 30, 2005
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


In 2003, Castlevania made its third 3D outing with Castlevania: Lament of Innocence to mixed reception. Given the game was set in medieval times, returning composer Michiru Yamane decided to reject most of the pop elements that dominated previous scores in the series in favour of mature orchestrations and haunting soundscapes. The resultant soundtrack is an inconsistent listen, but features some of the greatest tracks in the entire series.


The more cinematic direction of Castlevania: Lament of Innocence is immediately reflected with the "Prologue". This track gradually evolves from its ominous introduction through sections conveying a romantic tragedy and an epic struggle. This approach fits the opening narrative well and represents an interesting new direction for the series. However, some series' followers may be alienated by the serious tone, while yet others will be disappointed by the somewhat drab orchestration and synthetic implementation. Similarly ambient tracks such as "Cursed Memories", "Rinaldo's Cabin", or "Darkness" will only alienate listeners further with their endless drones.

Thankfully, many of the compositions on the soundtrack are far more attractive in their approach. "Garden Forgotten by Time" is an early highlight with its rich melodies and classical majesty. In many ways, it is reminiscent of Yamane's work on Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, yet it is more gushingly orchestrated and elaborately developed. The section from the 1:20 mark is especially powerful. Other setting themes, such as "Fog-Enshrouded Nightscape" and "Dark Palace of Waterfalls", draw listeners in with their enchanting motifs and mystical soundscapes. They contrast greatly with the series' typical melodic anthems, yet still immerse listeners with their elegant musicianship and beautiful timbres.

"House of Sacred Remains" and "Ghostly Theatre" stand out particularly strongly on this soundtrack. Both tracks focus on incorporating gothic organ, harpsichord, and chorus passages into an eerie overall soundscape. The epic organ solo of the extensively developed former at the 3:17 mark provides the single most awe-inspiring moment of the entire series. Among other highlights, "Leon's Theme", "Melancholy Joachim", and "Anti-Soul Mysteries Lab" blend Yamane's characteristic gothic instruments and chord progressions with surprisingly infectious electronic beats. The former will especially appeal to series' veterans given its strong melody and passionate development.

The score's battle themes will often be a select taste. They create lots of tension and grandeur within the game's often prolonged encounters with dissonant orchestration and heavy percussion. However, they're quite varied in their approach, ranging from lyrical orchestrations such as "Bizarre Room", to stylistic hotchpotchs such as "Traces of Malevolent Souls", to operatic arias such as "Death Flower Succubus". Yamane also integrates beats into some of the more impressive battle themes, namely "Elemental Tactician" and "Statue Enchanted by the Darkness", to enhance their accessibility. All these compositions have their musical and functional merits, but are definitely intended for the more experimental listener.

There are numerous bonus tracks featured on the second disc of the release. First of all, Yamane modernises three of her best tracks from Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow with satisfying gothic orchestrations. There is also a suite of tracks arranged from or inspired by the original score at the end of the soundtrack. It's interesting to hear novel interpretations of some of the score's best tracks, but generally they are less successful than their originals. For example, "House of Sacred Remains" sounds much more superficial in its Christmas-inspired hymn here, while "Leon's Theme" lacks the same drama and melodiousness as the original in its cinematic rendition. It's a decent bonus to flesh-out the release, but nowhere near the quality of a fully-fledged arranged album.


Overall, it's fantastic that Yamane was prepared to take the series' music in such a radical new direction here, and her approach both fits the game's historic setting and ensures a refreshing stand-alone listen. The soundtrack suffers somewhat from its drab cinematic cues, abstract battle themes, and bland bonus content, but makes up for it once it gets going with gigantic highlights such as "Ghostly Theatre", "Dark Palace of Waterfalls", and "Leon's Theme". This soundtrack isn't for all, but it is a must-have for those that enjoy the more dark and mature side of Castlevania's music.

Overall Score: 8/10