Game Music, Reviews

Yamaoka's Final Work With Konami? Silent Hill: Shattered Memories Soundtrack (Review)

Yamaoka’s Final Work With Konami? Silent Hill: Shattered Memories Soundtrack (Review)

December 14, 2009 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook Yamaoka’s Final Work With Konami? Silent Hill: Shattered Memories Soundtrack (Review)on Twitter

OSV was quick to confirm the recent rumors that Akira Yamaoka was leaving Konami. Akira Yamaoka isn’t just the composer for the Silent Hill series, he’s also a producer and creative lead. With Yamaoka gone, will Konami choose to keep making Silent Hill titles, or is this the end?

And, whether they choose to proceed with Silent Hill or not, is Yamaoka done writing for Konami? Or will he “pull an Uematsu” and do contracted work with his ex-employer?

We’ll leave the speculation to you (and we’re happy to hear it!). But in the case that this is a clean and final break between Yamaoka and Konami, we’d like to present to you our thoughts on Yamaoka’s final work on the Silent Hill series (a remake of the original title).

After the jump, check out our review of the Silent Hill: Shattered Memories Soundtrack.

This 21-track soundtrack came as a preorder bonus for the North American Wii version of Shattered Memories. It opens with the most creepy and unsettling cover imaginable of “Always On My Mind” (popularized by Elvis, Willie Nelson, and many others with each passing decade). This particular cover is performed by Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, the same singer found on nearly every Silent Hill installment. She appears elsewhere on this soundtrack (four times total), including track 2 “When You’re Gone.” Her performance here is on par, and the effects put on the track make her voice sound as haunting as ever.

The Shattered Memories soundtrack is a fair amalgam of newly-composed tracks and updated arrangements from the original PlayStation title. Only the most ardent Silent Hill and/or Akira Yamaoka fans will be able to discern what’s old from what’s new. In that sense, there is a very strong flow to the soundtrack. There are melodically appealing tracks like “Creeping Distress,” and then there are underwear-soiling fright fests like “Hostility” and “Raw Shock.” Even in the scariest pieces, however, Yamaoka tends to prefer maintaining a sense of rhythm instead of allowing rubato drones taking over the pacing of the piece.

McGlynn’s performance on the final two tracks, “Acceptance” and “Hell Frozen Rain,” cut all the extra effects and instead demonstrate her raw prowess. The lyrics aren’t too impressive, but the vocal performance on both songs have indeed left a lasting impression on this listener. “Hell Frozen Rain” is like a pop-rock song that you could expect to hear on Guitar Hero or Rock Band. Fairly mainstream in style, but with Yamaoka’s backup work, it’s a pretty cool sound.

Also, in-advance props go to anyone who attempts to mash up “Hell Frozen Rain” with Chocolate Rain. That would put a permanent smile on my face.

I think, whether you’ve followed Yamaoka or not, you know what to expect on Shattered Memories. It’s a good soundtrack, but probably not Yamaoka’s greatest work. I cannot help but wonder if he went into this project already frustrated and ready to leave, and that prevented him from improving his craft even further. That doesn’t mean fans won’t enjoy the album. Far from it. I know I enjoyed the soundtrack. But if anyone thought “this will be Yamaoka’s best work ever!!”, sorry to burst your bubble.

I cannot wait to see where Yamaoka takes his talents next. Will he keep doing game music, or become strictly a solo artist? In any case, we wish him well, and we hope that, whatever the struggles were between him and Konami, he can fondly remember “finishing” his work with them via the Silent Hill: Shattered Memories Soundtrack.

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