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Akumajo Dracula The Stolen Seal Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Akumajo Dracula The Stolen Seal Original Soundtrack Album Title: Akumajo Dracula The Stolen Seal Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Konami Style
Catalog No.: Promotional
Release Date: October 23, 2008
Purchase: Buy at eBay


In 2008, Michiru Yamane made one final Castlevania soundtrack before departing Konami, her workplace of 20 years. This was for Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, the third and final DS score in the series. For this title, she offered a slightly more upbeat and electrifying approach to the series under the guidance of sound director Yasuhiro Ichihashi. However, she also found some time to reflect on her time on the series too. The soundtrack was released with a handful of bonus arrangements on a surprisingly bulky two disc set.


The opening theme for Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, "An Empty Tome", transitions from a moody orchestral passage into a beat-heavy rock-orchestral anthem. While it's a little on the short side, it reflects that Michiru Yamane is back on full form and an action-packed adventure lies ahead. This track is later arranged at the start of the second disc in a straightforward electro-gothic style. The first stage theme "Chapel Hidden in Smoke" takes a slightly different direction to Yamane's equivalents on previous portable scores, more strongly influenced than pop rather than rock stylings. The first section features quite an uplifting tone, yet sounds a little too desperate in its melodic approach, while the development section has a more tragic and reflective mood. "Rhapsody of the Forsaken" likewise is a delightful stage theme that combines the series' upbeat melodies with easygoing electronic beats.

Yamane's deviations from the series' established style results in a number of experimental compositions during the course of the soundtrack. One of the most enjoyable of these is "Wandering the Crystal Blue", an ethereal electro-acoustic piece that illuminates the stage it is used in. Yamane's more personal touches, for example the romantic piano work or the occasional gothic progressions, ensure the track still fits the series quite well. "Edge of the Sky" and, one of the contributions by Yasuhiro Ichihashi, "Emerald Mist" also hybridise the series' characteristic lyricism with more exotic and easygoing stylings. Few people would have expected to hear calypso rhythms in a Castlevania score, but here they are and the result will split opinions. Even more explicitly gothic creations such as "Unholy Vespers" or the arrangement of "Tower of Dolls" have an upbeat electronic edge.

Series' veterans will be relieved to know that the various battle themes are closed in style to other scores in the series. Ichihashi puts the electric guitars on overdrive for "Sorrow's Distortion" and "Ebony Wings", both of which are likely to win over fans with their extravagant if hackneyed 80s rock influence. "Symphony of Battle" and the climactic "Order of the Demon" meanwhile are quite reminiscent of the boss battle themes of Castlevania: Lament of Innocence with their modernist orchestration and marching rhythms. There are also some more personal moments in the soundtrack too, such as "Fantasia of Beautiful Dreams", "Cantus Motetten", and "Waltz of the Evening Moon", although a few event themes are rather drab. Absolutely the best of these is "Requiem of Star-Crossed Nights", a romantic chamber piece that reflects Yamane's bittersweet feelings about leaving the series and excitement for the future.

The soundtrack ends with six bonus arrangements of favourites from the full soundtrack. The track selection is solid and the arrangements are effective, though most tracks adhere quite closely to the original. A highlight is "Wandering the Crystal Blue", which has a more expressive effect than before with its blend of elegant chamber performances and understated electronic beats. "Order of the Demon" also sounds bigger and better than before with its bolder orchestration and choral additions here. Perhaps an unused prototype, it's clear Yamane intended even greater things for this score but felt somewhat limited by the DS' hardware limitations. That said, it's a pity that these arrangements don't develop into fully-fledged art pieces and instead just loop like the originals.


Overall, Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia's soundtrack is a solid addition to the series. It's not quite as emotional or memorable as other scores in the series, though most of the compositions are effective and enjoyable. While listeners will be split on the new direction, the more upbeat and contemporary approach here is somewhat refreshing after the occasionally tired sound of previous portable scores. Given its slightly deviant quality, most would be advised to sample the score first, ideally by playing the game. Those that like the results should enjoyable the originals and arrangements featured across the two disc set.

Overall Score: 7/10