Game Music

Soundtrack of the Month 04/2009: Akumajo Dracula X ~Nocturne in the Moonlight~ Original Game Soundtrack

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Another one that I’ve been dying to do. This is a popular soundtrack, ranking only second as the most collected album on the VGMdb, and with good cause. This game put Castlevania back on the map after its disappointing Nintendo 64 adventures, and also made composer Michiru Yamane a household name… at least for game music fans.

Rock, ambient, electronic, and even jazz, it’s all here, and it still sounds amazing. It’s been awhile since I’ve listened to it, and I’d almost forgotten just how good it is. I don’t think anyone will deny that the Akumajo Dracula X ~Noctrune in the Moonlight~ Original Game Soundtrack deserves to be featured as April’s soundtrack of the month.

Read about this gem of the game music world after the jump.

You’ll likely blow through the first few tracks, but things really get going with fan-favorite “Dracula Castle” with its evolving atmospheres and wailing electric guitars. This was one of the first times that Castlevania fans were finally able to enjoy the music in CD quality, and I think we were all excited to hear this rock track so early in the game. It definitely sets the bar high, but trust me, the rest of the album doesn’t disappoint.

“Marble Corridor” brings a funky “gaminess” with electronic elements and an instantly catchy melody, while the sweet vocals of “Nocturne” offer a little break from the darkness of Transylvania (I recommend Tim’s arrangement of this track from Bad Dudes & Friends Castleviana: Symphony of the Night – Resurrection album). “Wood-Carved Partita” is an amazing Baroque track that sounds right at home within Dracula’s castle. I wish there was more of this on the album! Oh, harpsichord, how I love thee!

Two of my favorite tracks that have been on my “sleep” CDs for ages are “Requiem of the Gods” and “Lost Painting,” the second of which has become somewhat of a renowned track. Both have an amazing sense of atmosphere, taking on more of a somber mood as opposed to beating the “dark” atmosphere over the head. This “scary” approach is reserved for “Path of the Departed” with its haunting piano melody and droning pads. Sound effects of various creatures are added and somehow manage to avoid sounding overdone.

Jumping into some electronica, “Rainbow Cemetery” features a groovy bassline and a descending string progression. There are playful arpeggios that dance around the brass stabs, creating a really cool effect. Another style enters with the jazzy “Awakened Soul,” another favorite of mine. A lovely acoustic guitar melody is layered over acoustic guitar chords that have an ethnic flair. This makes for a wonderful musical accompaniment to an interesting location in the game.

I guess I can’t get away without mentioning “I am the Wind,” which is a topic in itself. I remember how much I pretended to hate this song, but it was always my guilty pleasure. Cynthia Harrell provides the most disgustingly cheesy vocals you’ve ever heard, and the song has absolutely no place in the world of Castlevania… but I like it anyway. Smooth progression, some amazing harmonies, and a catchy melody. Actually, I think Dale likes this stuff, and I’m sure he was never afraid to come out and say it.

Yeah, so I was able to touch on all of my favorite tracks, here, but there isn’t a single track on this album that I’d have to skip. It’s all good. It comes highly recommended to the few of you out there who don’t already own it. Not only did Symphony of the Night reinvent Castlevania, but it also had one of the series’ best soundtracks! Grab the soundtrack at Play Asia. Oh, and while you’re at it, pop the game disc into your CD player for an awesome treat… another guilty pleasure of mine!

What are some other tracks that I left out that you think deserve a mention? Have you been a fan of Michiru Yamane’s works after Symphony of the Night?

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