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Castlevania – Lament of Innocence – “House of Sacred Remains” (Michru Yamane)

October 24, 2010

Castlevania – Lament of Innocence is one of the best soundtracks in the series. Michiru Yamane combines a wide range of musical styles in her games, from hard rock to dance to baroque, and often mixes them in the same song (“Resonance of Malevolent Souls” even used a digeridoo!). Lament of Innocence in many ways exemplifies this technique. Haunting baroque pieces such as “Ghostly Theater”, the strikingly haunting “House of Sacred Remains” and the jazzy battle themes such as “Traces of Malevolent Souls” are several of the outstanding pieces. It’s little wonder then that AOL Radio scored this the number oneCastlevania soundtrack andis definitely worth picking up off of iTunes if you haven’t already. My pick for the best track is a cross between “House of Sacred Remains” and “Ghostly Theater”, but I’ll go with the former for its unique approach (and more gothic fitting for the Halloween season).

“House of Sacred Remains” opens with a stark organ solo, a 26 second intro with a single, mournful organ that plays the track’s foundation melody of 21 notes. By doing so, Yamane firmly establishes the mood and setting of the piece – a giant abandoned cathedral that has been profaned by the undead, a stark, empty house of worship where the echoes of mass have long since been forgotten. The leaps between notes seem initially shocking and foreign, but quickly become the foundation of the piece. After this opening, the piece transitions into the main section, a choral segment that seems disembodied from human voice with its tremulous, hollow singing, electronica percussion and sonar echoes forming the base line of the melody. At the end of this section, the organ is again added to the mix as it moves to a masterful piano segment (1:36). Here, we have a sense of walking through the abandoned cathedral, finding secrets and exploring the mystery and decadent splendor of the place, even in decay – ribbed vaults rising to the ceiling, gothic tracery and overturned pews. At the end of the section, the organ returns again for a tremendous finale with some heavy drumwork (2:36), slowly building in intensity and finally adding the choral section. The piece loops at 3:08 for what is a truly astonishing opening to what for many is the first main level of the game.

Michiru Yamane arranged the album in the Castlevania Original Soundtrack – a title that is ill-named considering how Castlevania has always been the name of the series in the US. The piece “Christmas Carol ~From House of Sacred Remains” is a unique take on the theme, transforming it from a grim, somber chamber to a field of bright snow with an opening dominated by female choir and delicate triangle percussion. Past this, the overpowering male soloist takes over in place of the organ and the track transitions into and electronic dance that culminates in an organ finale. It’s an incredible roller-coaster, though ultimately one that lacks the core mastery present in the original work.

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