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Perfect Selection Dracula Battle :: Review by George

Perfect Selection Dracula Battle Album Title: Perfect Selection Dracula Battle
Record Label: King Records
Catalog No.: KICA-1145
Release Date: July 21, 1994
Purchase: Buy at eBay


If there is one thing to be said about Castlevania's music, it is how memorable and incredibly it is. That being said, most soundtracks of the franchise's installments were limited by the game's technology, so a lot of the series' themes were limited in their intensity. Fortunately, arranged albums exist so we can enjoy much of these wonderful themes in enhanced forms. While most of the official arranged albums have been mixed efforts, an exception is Perfect Selection Dracula Battle.

Before I introduce you to the music itself, just so you get a better idea, look at the album's cover for a minute: There's a crimson sky of death full of mighty thunders of destruction, a dark cross that holds the album's title that spells "Dracula", aka the lord of darkness himself, and "Battle", ensuring that there is going to take place some serious ass-kicking. On top of it, there's "Perfect Selection", which ensures that there is nothing else but a perfect selection of incredible tunes featured in the album. You can't get much more "Metal" than that! While it's over the top, it completely captures the essence and spirit of the music featured in this album.

Arranged and produced by Naoto Shibata along with a skilled set of performers, Perfect Selection Dracula Battle features some truly incredible hard rock and metal arrangements of classic Castlevania themes. So, without further wasting time, let's see why this is such an epic and rocking experience.


The album starts with a powerful and melodic arrangement of the now iconic theme "Beginning" from Castlevania III. After reprising the original intro with keyboards accompanied by hard-hitting drums, the electric guitars soon flow in and offer a fiery tornado of burning solos. Right from the start of the album, the listener is bombarded by Naoto Shibata's spectacular guitar work and phenomenal performance, pumping them up for what's to come next. While "Beginning" is not the best track of the album, is certainly is one of the best versions of the theme that I have heard, and manages to induce enough adrenaline to prepare the listener for what's to come.

I have always considered "Bloody Tears" the heart and soul of Castlevania's musical legacy, because no other theme like it captures the feelings of adventure, heroism, and darkness that characterize the franchise. The arrangement in this album manages to pay the right homage to the legendary theme, and goes sky-high with its intensity and complexity, exceeding any other arrangement of "Bloody Tears" in existence. Blasting with organ solos that reprise the now iconic gothic motif, the guitars soon kick in creating an intense, if slightly bittersweet, progressive gothic rock anthem. The arrangement progressively flows from complex keyboard solos to heartfelt guitar solos, keeping a great balance of entertainment and emotional involvement. This track is so damn good that it has transcended barriers between mainstream metal fans and video game music fans altogether.

Throughout the rest of the album, the formula is mostly the same: classic themes playing on keyboards or guitars, in conjunction powerful drumming and emphatic bass. Still, there is an abundance of variety regarding the way the arrangements are executed, so nothing sounds identical. For example, "Ripe Seeds" and "Slash" focus more on the keyboard and synth melodies, but are equally impressive due to their complex development and progression, and each one has a distinct personality. Omitting the gothic feeling completely, "Cross a Fear" is an awe-inspiring and heart-pumping power rock theme, or like I love saying, "It's music that's good for the soul". On the other hand, "Vampire Killer", while still being stylistically similar and well-executed, isn't particularly memorable like the rest of the album, but still has potential particularly for the awesome solos featured within.

"Requiem for the Nameless Victims" and "Calling from Heaven" take a much slower and calmer approach, giving a break from all the intense ride of the other themes. The former is a remarkable rock ballad that sounds surprisingly nostalgic and satisfactory, inspiring a sense of accomplishment. The latter is one of the best arrangements of the album, boasting some incredible guitar solos along with some beautiful organ accompaniment. Closing the album are "March of the Holy Man" and "Don't Wait Until Night". The former is a heroic power rock anthem, but doesn't quite live up to the rest of the other tracks due to its repetitive nature. Still, the guitar work is exquisite and totally worth checking out. The latter is an arrangement from the arcade game Haunted Castle, and manages to end the album in a high note with its amazing melodies and timeless solos.

Still, the album is not "perfect". It does have its fair share of flaws, particularly in terms of production. While the guitars sound phenomenal, certain instruments like the cymbals sound strangely synthetic. The drums and bass are authentic, but I can't help but feel that a better mastering could have been done during the production. While the synths and keyboards are generally very good, they sound slightly dated, so certain arrangements might loose their impact sometimes.


Nevertheless, Perfect Selection Dracula Battle is one of the most incredible and memorable game music albums in existence. Never before such complex and accomplished rock music was heard from video games before Naoto Shibata and his team decided to kick in. Using Castlevania's beautiful motifs to create accomplished but approachable progressive metal themes, along with a touch of neo-classical and the occasional gothic palette, this album has managed to impress both game music fans and those who enjoy the rock genre. It does have it's fair share of flaws, including its sometimes formulaic approach and inconsistent production. However, these do so little to detract from the overall awesomeness of the experience.

Overall Score: 9/10