Castlevania Bloodlines – “Reincarnated Soul” (Michiru Yamane)March 28, 2010
Day three of Castlevania week is the longtime favorite “Reincarnated Soul” from Castlevania Bloodlines (known as Vampire Killer in Japan) for the Sega Genesis (1994). This was Michiru Yamane’s first soundtrack for the Castlevania series, and boy was it an amazing debut. Yamane perfectly captured the series’ feel and atmosphere, bringing back a few classic tunes but going full-out with an almost entirely original composition. The soundtrack, released in 1993 along with the Dracula X PCE soundtrack, has only recently been reprinted (in full) on the Castlevania Best Collections BOX – which is good considering how much a copy of the original album goes for. Bloodlines had a few other excellent tracks, including “The Sinking Old Sanctuary”, “Iron Blue Intention”, and “Calling from Heaven” as well as a wonderful arrangement of “Simon’s Theme”. While I’m not a big fan of the Genesis’ sound chip, I will say that Bloodlines stands as one of the best soundtracks for the system sound-wise. Oh yeah, I used the Japanese box art because it’s ten times cooler than the US version (even though Quincy Morris still looks like a fool).
“Reincarnated Soul” kind of resembles “Vampire Killer” in structure, beginning with an introductory jingle for entering the haunted castle that later gives way to the main melody. The bell-like piano and grating organ gives a nice sense of dilapidation and Halloween creepiness, illustrating danger and monster attacks. The drums in here have a wonderfully gothic feel, sounding like footsteps in the attic of a haunted mansion. The whole composition of the track feels remarkably similar in intent to “Vampire Killer”, which was meant as a catchy, active opening piece to establish a sense of creepiness and move the player into excitement. Because Michiru Yamane studied the composition of “Vampire Killer” and other early Castlevania pieces, it’s likely she therefore understood how the song composition and intent worked, making her debut Castlevania soundtrack perhaps a spiritual successor to Kuniyo Yamashita’s work, and likely a key to the soundtrack’s success. The title is, of course, a reference to Dracula’s constant resurrection.
Despite its popularity among Bloodlines fans, “Reincarnated Soul” has seen surprisingly few arrangements, the best of which is an absolutely astounding rock remix from Dracula Battle II (1995). Unlike other pieces in the Battle series, “Reincarnated Soul” is unique because it is a fairly straight-up arrangement of the original melody with a beginning, middle, and end – no loops to speak of. The track was also used as the Stage 1 theme for Castlevania Rebirth on the Wii Virtual Console – a surprise considering “Battle of the Holy” was actually a pretty good song. The sound effects and instrumentation in the game also seem inspired by Bloodlines, though the music feels more like it came from a 1988 Konami arcade machine, even including instruments from Kazuki Muraoka and Motoaki Furukawa’s Super Contra soundtrack (1988). Anyway, the album was recently released along with the BOX collection, though only through Konamistyle (lame!).