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Akumajo Dracula X Nocturne in the Moonlight Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Akumajo Dracula X Nocturne in the Moonlight Original Game Soundtrack Album Title: Akumajo Dracula X Nocturne in the Moonlight Original Game Soundtrack
Record Label: King Records
Catalog No.: KICA-7760
Release Date: April 9, 1997
Purchase: Buy at Game Music Online


After the upbeat pop-influenced approach of earlier Castlevania titles, Michiru Yamane took the series in a much deeper and richer direction for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (aka Akumajo Dracula X: Nocturne in the Moonlight). This new approach was facilitated by the possibilities offered by the PlayStation's technology and the 3D action-adventure gameplay. Her resultant score was a very important part of the game and excellently complemented the depicted struggle of Alucard and Dracula. Its soundtrack release is largely delightful too.


Michiru Yamane immediately reflects her darker intentions for the series with "Metamorphosis No. 1". Blending melancholic string motifs and gothic choral chants, it is certainly a chilling accompaniment to the opening cinematic. The bombastic orchestration of series' mainstay "Illusionary Dance", the desperate romantic stylings of "Nocturne in the Moonlight", and eerie a capella chorus of "Prayer" only immerse listeners further into the experience. Such compositions were incredible for the PlayStation with their expressive qualities and classical finesse. Though they have been surpassed with even more elaborate tracks in recent years, they still impress with their direct writing and creative inspiration.

Among the more satisfying tracks on the soundtrack are those that emulate classical greats. For instance, "Dance of Pearls" puts a neo-classical twist on the waltz format with its contrasts of romantic piano phrases and thick orchestral passages. The elements are all synthesised here, but are extremely expressive due to their elegant treatment and convincing synthesis. "Wood Carving Partita" is inspired by the dance suites of J.S. Bach, blending intricate harpsichord writing with expressive synthetic orchestration, while "Requiem for the Gods" has an awe-inspiring effect in the game with its celestial chorus and organ passages. In both cases, it is clear that Yamane's extensive studies of Bach have come in useful for game scoring.

That said, the upbeat pop influence of the series is maintained in some central themes during the soundtrack. "Dracula's Castle" is an elating way to introduce the central location of the game, combining infectious synth and guitar leads with Akira Yamaoka's expert drum programming. This is how Castlevania rock should sound. "Marble Gallery" casts a spell on listeners with its infectious synthesizer licks, while "Crystal Teardrops" manages to entertain despite its ambient focus thanks to funky rhythms and classic references. In another example of evocative underscoring, "Rainbow Cemetery" takes gamers to a new dimension with its colourful piano clusters and electronic beats.

Prior to the score's climax, Yamane portrays the heroic nature and melancholic feelings of Alucard with "Young Nobleman of Sadness". This track is one of the series' best rock anthems, managing to simultaneously represent something while being downright catchy and compelling. After a series of dark cinematic cues, some of which reprise the opening themes, Yamane represents the final battle effectively with "Final Toccata"; this is slow-building invention that gradually incorporates choral, orchestral, and rock components in an understated yet chilling way. Unfortunately, the conclusion is soured by the ending theme "I am the Wind", a clichéd and meaningless ballad by Rika Muranaka that was fortunately removed from the game's PSP adaptation.


Overall, the music for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night deserves the praise it receives. Almost all the pieces on the soundtrack are memorable, emotional, and fitting, and are stylised in such a diverse and sophisticated way. The compositions here aren't as elaborate as Castlevania: Curse of Darkness or as ambitious as Castlevania: Lament of Innocence. However, they do provide an effective balance between the new and old Castlevania sounds and are highly accessible. This soundtrack is a must-have for fans of Michiru Yamane's Castlevania sound.

Overall Score: 9/10