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Akumajo Dracula X :: Review by Chris

Akumajo Dracula X Album Title: Akumajo Dracula X
Record Label: King Records
Catalog No.: KICA-7622/3
Release Date: November 3, 1993
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Akumajo Dracula X is a compilation of the soundtracks for two of the series' soundtracks in its transitionary era, the TurboGrafx-16's Castlevania: Rondo of Blood and the Genesis' Castlevania: Bloodlines. Both soundtracks were created by different composers and technology, so have rather contrasting sounds, but are quite satisfying when packaged together.


The first disc of the soundtrack release is dedicated to the music of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (aka Akumajo Dracula X: Rondo of Blood). The first stage theme "Bloodlines" has gone on to become one of the most famous tracks in the series, and for good reason. The upbeat guitar melodies and pop beats certainly ensure a fun accompaniment to the game and are elating on a stand-alone basis too. The team also offer some arrangements of past series' favourites, including one of the most exciting arrangements of "Vampire Killer" and an overly emphatic rendition of "Beginning". All three tracks are pretty trashy in their construction, compared to the more mature soundtracks that followed it. However, they certainly charm in the melodic department and stay faithful to the series' roots.

While an upbeat rocking tone runs through the Castlevania: Rondo of Blood soundtrack, there is a quite a variety nevertheless. "Cross a Fear", for instance, is a synthpop track that manages to add a darken the mood of the second stage while getting feet tapping with its funky beat; it's hard not to love the exuberant keyboard solos from the 0:44 mark. "Cemetery" is an equally dark funk experiment, but is let down by its slightly premature loop. "Painting of the Ghost Ship" and "Op. 13", on the other hand, seem inspired by disco artists and are a novel addition to the franchise; while these tracks sound dubious in the game, they will please many on a stand-alone basis. "Den" meanwhile is an interesting if jagged fusion of the early stage themes for the penultimate stage, peppered with touches of "Vampire Killer".

The soundtrack is rounded off by some solid creations. The influential boss theme "Dancing in Phantasmic Hell" makes the most of the TurboGrafx-16's technological capacity with its booming modernist orchestration, while "Illusionary Dance" is a suitably dark depiction of Dracula with its gothic organ work and has become a series' mainstay. While the ending themes are pretty generic affairs, the unused track "Cross Your Heart" is actually a very enjoyable rock-orchestral arrangement, based on a lesser-known track from Haunted Castle. While this bonus is welcome, note that this soundtrack is not technically incomplete and omits a number of tracks exclusive to the Akumajo Dracula X Chronicle Original Soundtrack. The most notable of these is "Former Room", while the others are just short event themes or unremarkable fanfares that most can live without.

The second disc of the soundtrack release is dedicated to Michiru Yamane's debut on the series, Castlevania: Bloodlines (aka Vampire Killer). She immediately reflects her tendency towards moody classically-oriented music with the themes for the title and opening themes. Both tracks are much more mature than the music in past titles of the series. She elaborates further on these developments in "The Sinking Old Sanctuary", with its beautiful lead and mystical soundscaping, and "The Discolored Wall", a highly dissonant piece channeling influences from expressionist composers. Both tracks are accomplished compositions from a musical perspective and reflect Yamane's extensive classical training. While still limited technologically, they bring the most out of the Genesis' limited sound chips.

That said, Michiru Yamane often stays faithful to the more upbeat pop-influenced sound of earlier soundtracks in the soundtrack. The first stage theme, "Reincarnated Soul", manages to be catchy in an unconventional way with its ascending melodies and jagged rhythms. "Iron-Blue Intention" meanwhile is an effective fusion of the series' classic sound with Yamane's more classical touches. Yamane also revives several other staples from the Castlevania series for this title, including "Bloody Tears", "Vampire Killer", and "Theme of Simon", for certain parts of the game. While the arrangements are quite straightforward, they retain the character and melodiousness of the originals on the Genesis' sound chip. The latter, in particular, has a motivating effect prior to the final boss.

Moving towards the climax, "The Prayer of a Tragic Queen" is an elegant invention written for harpsichord and "Calling from Heaven" is a conflicted anthem suitable for the final stages. The boss themes on the soundtrack, "Messenger from Devil", "The Six Servants of the Devil", and "The Vampire's Stomach", are suitably intense and frenetic. However, they are too dissonant and repetitive to be worthy of stand-alone listening. Thankfully, the ending theme "Requiem for the Nameless Victims" immerses listeners throughout its multifaceted development. An elegant ballad written in triple metre, it is an early example of Yamane's capacity to inspire bittersweet emotions with her compositions.

The album concludes with four arrangements of music from the X68000's Akumajo Dracula. Perhaps the biggest highlight is "Theme of Simon", which receives one of its most robust and rocking arrangements to date. "Moon Fight" is also an effective arrangement of the battle theme, though isn't as impressive as Sota Fujimori's interpretation for its PlayStation remake. "Mother Earth" is somewhat carried by the original's material, but it is sufficiently good to still impress consumers. These tracks are somewhat misplaced on this album, but are still a welcome bonus.


Overall, the album Akumajo Dracula X has a lot to offer. The Castlevania: Rondo of Blood soundtrack features some of the series' most accessible and entertaining tracks, while the Castlevania: Bloodlines soundtrack is a turning point in the series' history. Both soundtracks have their share of weaker tracks and are somewhat hampered by their synthesis, though they are largely impressive achievements. The Bloodlines soundtrack is a must-have for Michiru Yamane's fans, in particular, and is only available on this package and the series' box set.

Overall Score: 8/10