Ladies and gentlemen, we have arrived at the final stop on our Castlevania journey. What a long, interesting trip it’s been. After this, the clock tower is stopping, the coffins are being sealed and the castle will disappear into a solar eclipse until Netflix releases season two of the Castlevania animated series. The soundtrack to the Netflix Original Series is unique, but doesn’t exactly feel much like traditional Castlevania game music. Taken on its own, however, it is quite good and a worthy addition to any instrumental album library. Here are my impressions of the album, but this is by no means an in-depth analysis of the work.
To begin with, the main title reminds me of early Danny Elfman soundtrack work, with its overture of synth and strings generating an atmosphere of a horror film while establishing the overall musical aesthetic of the soundtrack.
“Wallachia 1455″ is some of the best New Retrowave I’ve heard in a while, at times sounding quite a bit like Wendy Carlos having a duet with GUNSHIP. The tune is dripping with synths and invokes a certain feeling of dread at just the right moments.
“Lisa of Lupu” is short and sweet, if once again synth-heavy. The melody is a bit drab and it seems to serve as a mere bookend to the previous two pieces. The next piece, “The True Science” is atmospheric and melodic, with its melody played on minimal piano and electronic sounds serving as a backdrop. At first eerie and peaceful, it slowly builds into a piano melody supported by strings.
“Vlad Searches for Lisa” is sad and wistful and is over much too quickly, segueing directly into the angry crescendo of tragedy that is “No More Do I Travel as a Man.” The music shifts from synth-heavy Retrowave style to more of a symphonic texture here. Next up is “There Are No Innocents,” which returns to the exotic synth sound with a driving hook and melody. At only 53 seconds, it’s over far too soon.
I love the atmosphere of dread and evil on the march in “Hordes Descend On Targoviste” and it blends seamlessly into “Murdenu Tavern,” a lighter and welcome departure from the horror theme. It’s your typical RPG town music, but is quite catchy, with a syncopated rhythm and minor accompaniment.
“Tavern Brawl” has that same sort of upbeat vibe to it, with frequent rests serving the on-screen action. “Bloody Gresit” is downright terrifying at times and truly invokes some of the best horror films the ’80s had to offer, especially if one imagines a ravaged town in the middle of a war with evil. “Bit of Dried Goat” and “Alley Fight” both follow suit, maintaining the atmosphere of the games with a completely different musical style. It is at this point in the album where I can hear a few bits of the Castlevania musical style, which is pretty cool.
“We Can’t Turn Away” feels rather poignant and unnerving, with the bells playing a dissonant melody, but it leads nicely into the tour de force “Trevor Fights the Cyclops,” one of my favorite tracks on the album. It simply rocks. (Get it?)
“War for the Soul of Our People,” “Twilight Descends” and “I’m Trevor Belmont” all sound great, but they do sort of blend into each other. “Trevor Fights the Mob” takes the theme from “Cyclops” and amplifies it to create an incredible boss fight feel.
“Let Me Kiss You” is a worthy follow-up, with its near-Gregorian chant background. This probably sounds the closest to what a player can expect playing the game in the series. I would’ve loved to hear “Bloody Tears” following this one. It’s creepy, atmospheric and deranged. The scene in the episode that corresponds to this song is disturbing and to watch the scene is to understand the title of the piece.
“I Fight for Myself” makes a triumphant stance as a battle theme, while “Night Hordes Besiege Gresit” amps the energy level up to 11.
“There’s an Army of Us” is downright terrifying, with its dissonant chord stabs and screeching. We get some throwbacks to Symphony of the Night’s soundtrack with “Trevor and Sypha in the Catacombs,” leading into the exquisite “Alucard Rises” and the raucous — and the closest thing the listener will find to a boss theme — “Trevor Fights Alucard.” The album wraps up with poignant, rolling credits of “Hunter, Scholar, Soldier.” Overall, the album is well done, despite its dissimilarity to the music of the games themselves.
If you’re interested in checking out our thoughts on the actual game music, check it out here, the Dungeons & Dragons connection here, our review of the series here and to see more of our retrospective on the series, get started with part one, here.
Castlevania: Journey Through the Years
- Castlevania – Journey Through the Years, Part 1: Dracula Rises
- Castlevania – Journey Through the Years, Part 2: A Dark Symphony
- Castlevania – Journey Through the Years, Part 3: Circle, Lament and Harmony
- Castlevania – Journey Through the Years, Part 4: Portraits of sorrow
- Castlevania – Journey Through the Years, Part 5: Dracula Rises No More
- Castlevania – Journey Through the Years, Part 6: Resurrection
- It’s a dead man’s party: the music of Castlevania