Akumajo Dracula X Chronicle Original Soundtrack
|Composed by||Konami Kukeiha Club / Masanori Akita / Митиру Яманэ|
|Arranged by||Акихиро Хонда / Masanori Akita / Митиру Яманэ / Ясухиро Итихаси / Юити Цутия|
|Release type||Game Soundtrack - Official Release|
|Format||2 CD - 56 Tracks|
|Release date||November 08, 2007|
In bringing the legendary Japan-only PC Engine release of Akumajo Dracula X Rondo of Blood to the PSP as Akumajo Dracula X Chronicle, Konami significantly updated the game's presentation, adding 3D graphics and a rearranged soundtrack. The original soundtrack was the first in the series to feature CD quality audio and was one of the best sounding soundtracks in the series on release. The music was very good classic Castlevania material as well. The kumajo Dracula X Chronicle Original Soundtrack includes all of the PSP arrangements, the complete PC Engine soundtrack of Rondo of Blood (including the synthesized in-game tracks that were not released on the album Akumajo Dracula X), as well as a few bonus arrangements from both Symphony of the Night and Rondo of Blood.
This soundtrack is principally a sound upgrade the original Rondo of Blood soundtrack. Most of the arrangements stick fairly close to their original incarnations, adding perhaps an intro or an extended section, but mostly making changes through updated synths. For some tracks, these changes are very effective. "Ghost Ship Painting" is one track that sounds a lot better on the arranged disc than on the original. The track is still a bit melodically sparse, but the accompaniment does not sound as awkward as on the original track, and the colour of the new instruments sound very good. "Dreams of Triumph", Chronicle's version of Rondo of Blood's arrange of "Beginning", turns one of my greatest disappointments from the original soundtrack into one of the track's better arrangements. Credit a harder edge added by guitars and a much richer, thicker sound in the chording instruments that transform the sparse, overly pop-coloured original into a very enjoyable, straightforward, but powerful rock track.
"Vampire Killer" also benefits a great deal from the upgrade in the sounds. The opening fanfare sounds much more powerful than on the PC Engine soundtrack and arranger Yuichi Tsuchiya does a great job of using instrumentation to contrast the creepy, stealthy opening segment of the main melody with the more bombastic whip-flailing answer segment. Akihiro Honda's modernization of "Cross Fear" also works quite well. Despite an intro that doesn't have much to do with the remainder of the track, he does well to quiet the creeping ostinato from the original track and focusing on the track's melody and rhythmic backbone. The riff remains present, but does not distract from the principle action. He also does a great job of making his changes in texture both natural and effective. When adding many loud instruments into the mix to accentuate a dynamic swell or dramatic moment, the effect is always quite natural, yet still surprising.
While most of the arrangements are improvements, some do disappoint. The "Bloody Tears" arrangement, while it sounds very good, is actually briefer than the Rondo of Blood original that deserved to be expanded. "Cemetary", despite a great improvement on the original ostinato, has poor instrumentation in the melody, which leads to it sounding like it exists on a separate plane from the rest of the music. Tsuchiya's treatment of the track's B section is quite good, however. Masanori Akita's take on "Slash" is also a slight downgrade from the original. The drums are mixed too loudly and the harder edge of the original samples is abandoned in favour of a smoother take, which would not be horrible, if it did not mean that the melody was overpowered by the boisterous rhythm section. The arranger's take on the section which turns the B section back into the A section is also absent of the melodic material that made the original version of this musical moment work so well, instead relying only on it s average harmonies to get the job done. It still works, but it's not as involving.
Also disappointing are the album's take on the original game's sensational battle tracks. "Dance of Illusions" makes a decent transition, but the organ and brass samples that often carry the melody do not sound good, and in fact occasionally sound out of tune. However, Honda's compositional treatment of the middle segment of the piece is accomplished enough to forgive the sample issues. None of these tracks are destructions of the originals, but are also not as effective as them in my mind. The album's opening track "Requiem" is also not quite as effective as the original. The original, with a solo voice and a ton of reverb, is much creepier, and also much more beautiful than this choral version in octaves. It still works though.
There is one arrangement on the album that is truly awful though. That is "Tues Deus meus (in minibus tuis)", which sounds like it is trying to be an arrangement of "Dancing in Phantasmic Hell" with some "Vampire Killer" elements thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately the orchestration is using every instrument it has available at all points throughout the entire piece, which means the piece doesn't sound like it goes anywhere from start to finish. Worse still, there really does not seem to be any significant melodic material worth paying any attention. There are fragments here and there below the orchestral/choral screaming, but for the most part I think the listener is meant to find the grey coloured nearly unintelligible (thanks to over orchestration) material in the choir interesting, which I don't. I'll stick to "Dancing in Phantasmic Hell".
In addition to arranges directly from Rondo of Blood, Yasuhiro Ichihashi also adds three arranges not present on the original soundtrack. If there is anything to complain about these tracks, it is that they do not really sound like they belong. In contrast to the rest of the album, which is generally focused on dance pop and gothic orchestrations, Ichihashi brings us a dab of jazz. All three of his contributions down this vein, namely "LOADING", "Demon Seed", and "Moon Fight", are quite similar and worth your listening time, even if they do not quite fit with the rest of the album. His "Daybreak" is also a big improvement on "March of the Holy Man" as an ending credits piece. The only other track on actually a part of the Chronicle soundtrack that is not an updated version of a Rondo of Blood standard is Mikio Saito and Masanori Akita's original track "Red Dawn". It is an effective enough dark orchestral piece, but is nothing worth influencing your decision to buy or not buy this album.
Though this album is principally focused on the in game soundtrack of Akumajo Dracula X Chronicles, eight bonus arranges are also included on the album. Much like "Red Dawn", I would not purchase the soundtrack simply to get your hands on these tracks. "Beginning (Crystal ver.)" is decent, but if you've paid any attention to Konami over the last twenty years, you've probably heard an arrangement or five of "Beginning" that sound an awful lot like this one. Yuichi Tsuchiya's arrangement of "Cemetary" is a nice fusion of the track with jazz and four-on-the-floor dance music elements, and is the best arrangement of this theme that I've heard, even if it's a little shorter than I'd like. "Divine Bloodlines (Airwave ver.)" makes a nice rave out of "Divine Bloodlines", but I don't think is quite as good as the arrange that was actually used in Chronicles. The "Vampire Killer" arrange is just a mostly misguided dance version of the classic and would probably be more at home on the recently released Final Fantasy Remix album.
"Nocturne", arranged from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, is a painfully derivative pop song. The singer also seems to be devoted to investing as little of herself in the performance. The result is not totally unpleasant, but it makes me cringe anyway. "Serenade of Sympathy", another arrangement from Symphony of the Night, is a relatively enjoyable piano piece against a dance beat that is better than your average Castlevania ending theme. "Op. 13" is a fun, conservative take on the Rondo of Blood original and is a better listen than "Red Dawn", which took its place in the game. "Cavern of Dark Spawn" is an arrangement of "Den", but takes away every bit of the track that wasn't an NES melody, and replaces them with an organ and a characterless percussion track. This is not half the track that "Den" was, and not including in this game was a great decision, because it opened up a slot for Ichihashi's phenomenal arrange of "Moon Dance".
Overall, despite a few bad apples, the arrangements on this album are quite good and, with the exception of "Tues Deus meus (in minibus tuis)", those arrangements that disappoint only take a small step away from the originals while retaining most of what made the pieces special to begin with. The bonus arranges are generally a step below the quality of the core album, but most are still good, and as bonus content on a generally solid album, do not disappoint that much. Besides, if "Cross Your Heart" had also received a rearrange for this album, I'm sure I wouldn't even be making that statement. Really, I cannot imagine a much better buy for the fan of Rondo of Blood's soundtrack. You get a collection of good to great arrangements, in addition to the entire original soundtrack. Konami has made a really good product here, and for fans of the game, it's surely great.
The PSP's Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles was quite an exuberant game package. It principally featured a remake of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, though the original game and the classic Castlevania: Symphony of the Night were available as unlockable content. The Akumajo Dracula X Chronicle Original Soundtrack features music from both the original and remade versions of Dracula X, together with a number of bonus tracks.
The soundtrack release features the complete score to the original Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (aka Akumajo Dracula X: Rondo of Blood) on the second disc. 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 to resist 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. Unfortunately, the ending themes are pretty generic affairs, particularly "March of the Holy Man" with its overly bombastic orchestration. The soundtrack also features a number of tracks that weren't included in the original release of Akumajo Dracula X. The most notable of these is "Former Room", while the others are just short event themes or unremarkable fanfares. Most can live without these, though completists will be happy at least.
The first disc features the arranged version of the soundtrack for its remake on the PSP's Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles (aka Akumajo Dracula X Chronicle). For the most part, the arrangements are upgrades rather than transformations of the original, featuring more polished scoring and improved synthesis. This will be disappointing for those expecting a score as experimental as Castlevania Chronicles, though maintains the characteristic essence of the series quite well. Masanori Akita's interpretation of "Bloodlines", for instance, still retains its old-school rock emphasis with its peppy keyboard leads and electric guitar parts. It has a more polished and consistent sound than the original, allowing it to fit nicely into the first stage of the game without becoming overbearing.
For the most part, the arrangements on this soundtrack are carried by their original melodies. For example, "Cross a Fear" is glamourised with some Hollywood touches, but is mostly enjoyable for the infectious riffs and exuberant keyboard solos present in the original. Likewise "Bloody Tears" and "Vampire Killer" are pretty straightforward rock versions of the classic themes, but still inspire a smile thanks to their wonderful melodies. That said, this conservative approach to arrangement doesn't benefit the original's weaker tracks. For example, "Cemetery" once again lacks the desired elaborations during its development and sounds somewhat underwhelming in its synthesis, while "Slash" seems to jump between retro and modern stylings a little clumsily.
The remake soundtrack is thankfully coloured by a few more ambitious arrangements. Most notably, Akihiro Honda treats "Illusionary Dance" with an action-packed Hollywood-influenced orchestration, peppered with epic choral chants and intricate organ passages. Likewise, Yuichi Tsuchiya's decision to introduce a more acoustic palette on to "Painting of the Ghost Ship" pays off. The final score fits the imaginative visuals better while integrating smoothly with the rest of the soundtrack. Between these various arrangements, there are several brand new tracks. One of the most noteworthy is "Red Dawn", an elating blend of Hollywood bombast and gothic rock. Also of note are Yasuhiro Ichihashi's intimate piano and strings pieces used during the various demo scenes.
There is plenty of bonus content on the Akumajo Dracula X Chronicle Original Soundtrack. In addition to the in-game arrangements, the team behind the soundtrack offer several bonus renditions. The best of these is "Cemetary", since it at last elaborates on the sparing original, while offering some jazz improvisations and dance beats. "Beginning" and "Vampire Killer" are also quite audacious arrangements, but are not remarkable enough to stand up against some of the most popular versions of these staples out there, for example on Perfect Selection Dracula Battle. On the other disc, there are also some enjoyable anthemic rock versions of "Op. 13" and "Cross Your Heart" that nicely round off the package, the latter previously featuring on the Akumajo Dracula X album.
But that's not all! There is also some new music created for the package's adaptation of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (aka Akumajo Dracula X: Nocturne in the Moonlight). Michiru Yamane arranged "Nocturne" into a pleasant but derivative pop song for the title. In addition, she replaced the critically panned vocal theme "I Am the Wind" with an original composition entitled "Serenade of Sympathy" for the game's ending. It blends melancholic piano passages with pop-influenced beats to inspire a sense of relief, contemplation, and sadness. While it is hardly spectacular, it at least removes the biggest fault of the PlayStation version's score. The rest of the in-game score was a straight port of the PlayStation soundtrack, which is not included here.
Just like the game, the Akumajo Dracula X Chronicle Original Soundtrack has plenty to offer: a retro score, a remake score, and numerous bonuses. The original Castlevania: Rondo of Blood score is one of the series' most accessible and entertaining soundtracks. Its adaptation for the PSP preserves many of these characteristics while offering a number of enhancements in synth quality and contextual underscoring. However, the arrangements throughout the album are a little too conservative and generic to particularly impress. This package is recommended more for the amount it has to offer, rather than its creativity.
Tracks 01~25: Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles Original Version
Tracks 26~29: Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles Arrange Version
Tracks 01~22: Akumajo Dracula X: Rondo of Blood Original Version
Tracks 23~24: Castlevania Symphony of the Night New Arrange
Tracks 25~27: Extra Tracks
Masanori Akita DISC1-M4/9/10/13/15/19/20/22/24/25/26/28 Arrange, DISC1-M12 Compose/Arrange
Yuichi Tsuchiya DISC1-M5/8/11/27/29 Arrange
Akihiro Honda DISC1-M6/7/21 Arrange
Yasuhiro Ichihashi DISC1-M1/2/3/14/16/17/18/23 Arrange
Michiru Yamane DISC2-M23/24 Compose/Arrange
Lyrics: Masanori Ouchi DISC2-23
Dreams of Triumph
Ghost Ship Painting
Tues Deus meus (in manibus tuis）
Demo Scene 01
Demo Scene 03
Demo Scene 02
Dance of Illusions
Beginning (Crystal ver.)
Divine Bloodlines (Airwave ver.）