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Castlevania Curse of Darkness Music Sampler :: Review by Jared

Castlevania Curse of Darkness Music Sampler (US / Europe) Album Title: Castlevania Curse of Darkness Music Sampler (US / Europe)
Record Label: Konami of America; Konami of Europe
Catalog No.: Promotional
Release Date: October 2005 (US); February 16, 2006 (Europe)
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Michiru Yamane, the beloved composer of many Castlevania games, returns to score Curse of Darkness. Yamane is known for her impeccable skill as a composer; unlike most gaming composers, nearly every track she writes is inspired and just as worthy as the last.

The Curse of Darkness sampler is a perfect example; the album contains 17 tracks, and nearly every one of them is inspired and entertaining. For this score, Yamane often blends classical and baroque elements with electronica and rock, and she does so to a marvelous effect that adds a lot of style and edge to her already wonderful compositions.


There are only a few tracks that are dull on this album. These include "The Siblings' Sad Destiny," "The Man Who Destroyed Dracula - Part 2," "The Power of A Hunter - Part 2," and "Dracula - Part 1." These seem to be cinematic tracks, consisting mostly of ambience. It is also worth noting that these are all around a minute long or shorter; as such, I'm sure they serve their purpose wonderfully in-game, though on the soundtrack they are a bit dull compared to the other themes.

The rest of this album is jaw-dropping. Things start of with "Abandoned Castle - The Curse of Darkness." This track is a fusion of many different styles, but it is wonderfully driving with the tense strings and electronica beat running in the background for the synth melody to lie on top. Area themes are wonderfully inspired on this album, and also diverse. Of particular interest is "Garibaldi Temple," which seems reminiscent of her Symphony of the Night offerings. The theme is composed with a baroque instrumentation, and the use of a harpsichord gives a lot of movement and interest to the piece. The orchestral parts are wonderful as well, but the harpsichord is what really keeps this track interesting.

"Eneomaos Machine Tower" is a good example of combining electronica with classical. A piano is featured, with orchestral accompaniment in the background. Under all of this is a rather typical drum and bass loop, but it doesn't hurt the piece in anyway. Similar to the harpsichord in "Garibaldi," it actually gives the theme an adventurous and moving feel that is perfect for this style of gameplay.

The battle themes are even more inspired than the area themes. The first to show its face is "Followers of Darkness - The First." The percussive beats and active bass line set the rest of the track up nicely. The strings are the real prize in this track, however; they are constantly playing furious runs in a wonderful unison sound that just shines with tension and movement. "Followers of Darkness - The Third" is similarly tense, though it utilizes more rock elements than the "The First". It features a lot of distortion guitar rhythms, but the driving strings also appear in this track, as well as some furious guitar melodies.

"A Toccata into Blood-Soaked Darkness," besides having one of the coolest names in the world, is also one of the most dynamic final battle themes ever composed. A pipe organ sets things off with heavy chords, and then goes into a toccata that makes one think immediately of Bach. Soon, driving strings join in, as well as gorgeous choir chords and a tense backbeat. This track features strings similarly to both of the "Followers of Darkness" tracks, but beyond that the organ and entire orchestral accompaniment creates one of the most beautifully tense atmospheres ever heard on a video game soundtrack. This is one of the few battle themes that actually can move and evoke emotions in the listener. It's that good.


These are just a few highlight tracks of the album, but it features many more inspired compositions from Yamane. Most of the pieces are around 4-5 minutes long and each one has a ton of interesting and inspired material. This sampler is a great look into the full Curse of Darkness soundtrack, as well as being a great showcase of some of the best work Yamane has yet put out.

The only issue, and it is very minor, is the appearance of the cinematic tracks; they are all short and generally not very interesting though work well as ambience. Other than that, this is a wonderful album chock-full of brilliant music.

Overall Score: 9/10