I have been collecting music from films and television for a number of years now, in that time film scoring has gone through a few changes and also I have seen certain “fashions” in the way in which movies have been scored, i.e. song scores, synthesized scores, no scores at all, jazz, etc etc, and then with the emergence of STAR WARS we seemed to go full circle and return to the romance, the drama and the full symphonic approach that had been so successful during the Golden age of cinema and echoed the musical prowess of Korngold, Steiner, Waxman, Rozsa etc. Many say that film music nowadays is not as good or as original as say music from the 1940,s through to the late 1960,s but I am of the opinion that this is true of just a small percentage of film music that is being composed or produced in the 21st Century, there are a great number of younger composers that are writing amazingly thematic soundtracks and have the ability to support, enhance and give life to films with the delicate and also at times robust way in which they utilize musical colours, sounds and textures to fill in the blank canvas behind the actors or scenarios on screen that adds the emotion and the dramatic content or at least underlines it and brings forth a wonderful and enriching glow from each and every project. Film scoring has in recent years moved into a new area, the video game, again many hard and fast collectors of film music will argue this is not a film score, BUT the game is in essence a film, so is not the music that is scored to it a film score? In the past five years or so music in games has become more than just a happy and irritating little backing track, composers such as Winifred Phillips, Lorne Balfe, Hans Zimmer, John Debney and their like have stepped into this extension of the film scoring arena and created solid scores that ooze excitement, drama and of course emotion. The music from CASTLEVANIA LORDS OF SHADOW,and composer Oscar Ajuro are one such example of musical excellence in the games market, the Spanish composer has fashioned a highly thematic musical score, that is filled with fearsome and wildly atmospheric musical passages and also contains some mesmerizing and hauntingly beautiful pieces that purvey pure romance and raw emotion to the listener, plus at the same time accompany the at times riveting and energetic actions taking place on screen becoming part of the game and drawing the player into the dangers and delights of the world that they are involved with at that moment in time, offering them a triumphant musical support as they vanquish their enemies or conquer levels of the game.
The composer’s soundtrack is itself an addictive listen, each cue taking the listener to another level musically, with its pulsating and rhythmic percussive backgrounds that are thrown headlong at pace by strings that themselves are punctuated by growling and foreboding brass. The score also has a more synthetic side to the proceedings by this I mean that the composer fuses by synthetic with symphonic elements and does this seamlessly creating some highly tense and urgent sounding passages that add a number of adrenaline pumping levels to the score sending the unrelenting and incessant power house of a soundtrack through the roof. The composer also provides the game with a more intimate and tender musical accompaniment, with a number of luxuriously emotive pieces, Track number six, DESCENT TO THE CASTLES DUNGEONS, is performed by rich sounding strings and then by a particularly heartrending violin solo, which soon returns the lush theme to the string section who rise to the occasion and give it a Williams-esque work out before return it to the lilting sound of the solo violin. Then we are treated to Track number eight, DRACULA’S THEME, which is a slow and simple piano piece at the outset, but it soon builds and moves up a level into a majestic sounding piece for choir and strings and although short lived it certainly ticks all the boxes and grabs ones attention. There is also the proud and almost patriotic sounding track number fourteen, CASTLEVANIA which is filled to overflowing with strident musical statements performed by brave sounding brass and booming percussion which are both underlined and laced with noble edged strings and Latin sounding chants. But the order of the day here is a relentless but at the same time gloriously thematic soundtrack which is epic, romantic, emotive and above all powerful and richly dark with a touch of apprehension and foreboding, the perfect combination for an entertaining and breathtaking listen. Recommended without reservation.