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Dracula X: Rondo of Blood – “Bloodlines” (Konami Kukeiha Club)

March 29, 2010

“Bloodlines” is a pretty famous track. It’s gone through several names you might have heard: “Divine Bloodlines”, “Blood Relations between Heaven and Earth”… But it’s always the same track regardless of what you call it. I chose the more recognizable version. Now it’s hard for me to pick a favorite, but I think it’s a toss-up between the original Rondo of Blood version (1993) and the Dracula X Chronicles arrange by Masanori Akita (2008). I have to go with the original though, not only for the bass but also so I can add some new album art 🙂 Unfortunately, this version is pretty hard to find, but if you buy the Dracula X Chronicles soundtrack off iTunes for $9.99, you’ll get both versions for dirt cheap (plus, Chronicles had a much better recording than the original).

Dracula X: Rondo of Blood – “Bloodlines” (Konami Kukeiha Club)

“Bloodlines” beings with a very dramatic intro with heavy bass and a clean, hip guitar. The song itself is a rondo, a form of music where the notes of the main melody are repeated multiple times with slight variations. In this regard, “Bloodlines” really is the “Rondo of Blood”. The main melody also has a feel of loss and revenge – after all, the level takes place in Richter’s hometown, which has been ravaged by Dracula’s minions and now lies in flames. Richter is a man on a mission, and he’s not going to let Dracula get away with this. The instrumentation in the piece is great, particularly the combination of string plus organ to create a sense of the divine. The bass here is also really intense, so crank that subwoofer and let ‘er rip!

Though the track is arranged to end rather than fade, the downside to this soundtrack is that the composers were still pretty much thinking in terms of looped music. Why did they go with composing only a 1:30 loop when they could have made a three minute long piece? Add a little variation to the track for the second loop at least. “Vampire Killer” does this very well, but sadly, none of the other tracks did. Anyway, the album art for Rondo wasn’t that hot either – incredibly minimalist, it’s a rose that’s on fire (probably a reference to the Bloodlines soundtrack that is also on the album).

Oh yeah, if you’re wondering about the composer… Well, we don’t really know who it is. There were four people who did the soundtrack to Rondo, and none of them have ever been properly credited on an album. The composers are Akiropito, Jigokuguruma Nakamura, Sanoppi, and Mikio Saito (aka Metal Yuuki). Only Mikio Saito’s name is real. And good luck finding out who Jigokuguruma Nakamura is – Nakamura is pretty much the Japanese equivalent of ‘Smith’.

Dracula X Chronicles had a wonderful remix of this theme, “Divine Bloodlines“. In fact, I’d almost put the two neck-and-neck. Akita’s version has brand new instruments: a slick 70s guitar, bone-like drums, and a mean synth line. But I still like the guitar in Rondo better, so that was my pick. With some of the other tracks like “Vampire Killer”, the Rondo version was clearly superior. It’s a mixed bag, really.

“Bloodlines” appeared in several other games as well. Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin/Gallery of Labyrinth (2007) had a remix version as well, “Bloodlines Bequeathed” (in which John Morris earns the true powers of the Vampire Killer from Richter Belmont’s ghost) but it doesn’t sound that good on the DS. The track also integrated bits of “Strange Bloodlines” from Dracula X: Nocturne in the Moonlight (1997), which makes sense as this was the Richter Belmont fight theme.

There have been a few fan mixes of this too. Master Japanese doujin group Magical Trick Society’s “Relative of the Universe” from Akumajo Dracula -Odie et Amo- is a nice rock piece, though the drums don’t sound that great. My pick though goes to Dr Manhattan’s “Sudden Kiss” for the totally rockout intro. Some hair-raising vampire hissing plus heavy guitars makes for some serious vk action. It plays a little slow though in comparison with that awesome intro, but the guitar is first-rate.

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