Coming to you horribly later than the rest of my compatriots, I feel it still necessary to cast my vote on the VGM releases of 2015. So much came out last year that was notable that it’s hard to settle on any one thing. Fortunately, my fellow OSV writers have touched upon the best of things, so it’s a matter of following up on their fantastic lists with my own.
Game Soundtrack of the Year: Bloodborne
By: Ryan Amon, Tsukasa Saitoh, Cris Velasco, Yuka Kitamura, Michael Wandmacher, Nobuyoshi Suzuki
Just like Michael, I honestly can’t say enough great things about the soundtrack to Bloodborne. I went into the game completely new to the Souls games from FromSoftware, and despite a fair amount of frustration with getting used to the brutal gameplay, it’s since become one of my favorite games of the past few years and the soundtrack just accentuates that fact. Newcomer Ryan Amon along with the talents of Cris Velasco (Clive Barker’s Jericho), Tsukasa Saitoh (Armored Core 3) and other crafted a beautiful and haunting musical accompaniment to the Gothic horror of Bloodborne.
The chilling strings and powerfully eerie choir in so many of the pieces within the soundtrack just add so much to ramping up the anxiety of entering a new area for the first time and not knowing what horrors await you, or encountering of the game game’s several intimidating and vicious bosses. I remember when first fighting the Cleric Beast and hearing the sudden onset of the powerful choir that begins its theme just as the hulking monstrosity itself leapt from the spires of Cathedral Ward, and the entire scene made me freeze in awe at just how intense things had just gotten. It’s what I’d hoped a next-generation Castlevania had been in every aspect.
And “intense” is a great way of describing the entire musical ensemble of Bloodborne, as it’s not all doom and viciousness. One of my favorite pieces, “The First Hunter”, is so emotionally charged in its construction and the meaning behind it that I still get choked up a bit listening to it. The emotional power it carries is a huge testament to the entire sound team’s ability to craft heart-wrenching melodies amidst the gruesomeness of Yharnam’s downfall. Even if you’re not a Souls fan, I recommend picking this soundtrack up, along with the handful of tracks from “The Old Hunters” DLC, as nothing about it disappoints.
GSotY Runner Up: Crypt of the Necrodancer
By: Danny Baranowsky, Jules Conroy
I knew that Crypt of the Necrodancer was going to be a fun game, given its game mechanics and its revolving around rhythm. What I wasn’t completely prepared for was how much I was going to love the game’s entire soundtrack. I should have known better, given that it was Danny Baranowsky on task for crafting the game’s music, as his previous work on things like The Binding of Isaac didn’t disappoint. Crypt of the Necrodancer just proves how creative and diverse Danny B. can get, as the music is a fantastic assortment of smooth and chill beats along with fast-paced and intense chip melody.
Danny’s ability to keep the player on their toes with memorable beats just helps to cement every tunes into your head. Props for Jules Conroy, aka. FamilyJules7x for his arrangements on Danny’s tunes, both the handful in-game and with the Aria’s Ascent arrangement album. Both artists created a energetic menagerie of great beats that have managed to get stuck in my head time and time again.
Honorable Mention: Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows OST
By: Jake Kaufman, Jeff Ball
The soundtrack to Shovel Knight was one of favorite albums from last year, and thankfully Jake “Virt” Kaufman still has the creativity power of a bull with the extras he crafted for the Plague of Shadows DLC soundtrack. I can’t say much that wasn’t said about the original soundtrack because it’s more of the same brand of awesome composition Kaufman is known for, so I’ll let the music speak for itself. I can’t wait for more with the rest of the DLC.
Arrangement Album of the Year: Chris Huelsbeck: The Piano Collection
By: Chris Huelsbeck, Patrick Nevian
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Chris Huelsbeck’s works based on my growing up with an Amiga. So when he released his Piano Collection, I was excited. Featuring piano arrangements from his most well-known soundtracks including those from Turrican, Apidya, R-Type and more, the entire album is performed by pianist Patrick Nevian and started on Kickstarter before becoming the most popular piano album to date.
The arrangements of the chosen tracks are beautifully composed and performed by Nevian. I’m particularly fond of the arrangement of “The Great Bath” from Turrican 2 and may even like it slightly more than the version featured on the Turrican Soundtrack Anthology. Each track has something new to offer from its source material that contribute to their unique melodies and the album serves as as a loving testament to Huelsbeck’s legacy and gets my vote for my 2015 Arrangements Album of the Year.
Arrangement Album Runner Up: Prescription for Sleep: Game Music Lullabies II
By: GENTLE LOVE
The Prescription for Sleep albums have really taken off within the past year and a half and have obviously become a OSV favorite among our staff. When you think about it, it’s not a hard sell at all when you have Metal Gear Solid composer Norihiko Hibino creating soothing musical arrangements that I’m honestly afraid of playing while at work for fear they will encourage my lunch break to turn into extended nap time. (Break out my rug like in kindergarten.)
Prescription for Sleep Volume II was the album, out of the three released this year, that was my favorite. Having “Courage Under Fire” from Shovel Knight and “The Moon from Ducktails turned into delightfully subtle and simple compositions that can take me from frantic to chill in no time flat is a remarkable feat, and Hibino and musical partner in crime AYAKI more than deliver.Tags: 2015, Arrangements, Awards, Featured, Features, OSVOSTOTY, Soundtrack of the Year, Soundtracks