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Akumajo Dracula Curse of Darkness Original Soundtrack :: Review by Mac_Tear

Akumajo Dracula Curse of Darkness Original Soundtrack Album Title: Akumajo Dracula Curse of Darkness Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Konami Digital Entertainment
Catalog No.: GFCA-34/5
Release Date: November 30, 2005
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


Released two years after Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, Castlevania: Curse of Darkness was set in the year 1476, three years after the story of 1988's Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse. Michiru Yamane was again responsible for the musical score and delivered a huge number of creative and unique compositions. After she was sometimes criticised for not using electric guitars and rock elements in Lament of Innocence, Yamane went back to the roots with this score and returns the traditional rock and synth style among other interesting variations. More about this in my personal track-by-track review here. Enjoy.

Track-by-Track Reviews

Disc One

1) Prologue of Fate

"Prologue of Fate" opens the soundtrack in a short but splendid way. Actually used for the Demo Movie, this climactic piece introduces us to one of the major themes which can be heard also later on the soundtrack. The melody is fantastic; it describes the feeling of fate in a effective way and the percussion use also demonstrates confrontation. Sadly, the piece is rather short, so there is not much more to say. (8/10)

2) Blue Serenade

After the horrifying "Cursed Memories" from Lament of Innocence, Michiru Yamane choses a more elegant and haunting theme for the game's beginning. The music is provided by harpsichord and a female chorus, which delivers a classic baroque atmosphere; very fitting, nicely developed, and absolutely pleasant. (8/10)

3) Prologue ~Endless Sorrow~

The story theme is this time more melodic than its ancestors. Woodwinds, strings, and violin are used in the first section to deliver a depressed and melancholy atmosphere. In the middle of the track this feeling changes into something more mysterious and epic with the use of choir, percussion, and brass until the track ends again on a sorrowful note. It works excellently during the game. An extended version of this can be found later on the soundtrack as a bonus track by the way. (8/10)

4) Flattery With the Secret Arts

There are many more cutscene tracks in this score than in Lament of Innocence, because of the overall more extensive story. All of these themes are excellent, but are designated for the use in the game specifically, so are not quite intended for listening pleasure on the album. "Flattery With the Secret Arts" is the theme which accompanies the first meeting of Hector, the hero, and his adversary Isaac at the beginning of the game. The atmosphere is gloomy and suspense-packed. Very fitting. (7/10)

5) Abandoned Castle ~The Curse of Darkness~

Michiru Yamane is back again and more dynamic and energetic than ever with this stunning piece for the first stage. The atmosphere is typical Castlevania with gothic and rock-based instrumentation such as electric guitars, fast percussion, synth melodies, strings, and organ and fits the heinous scenery perfectly. After she had renounced this kind from the Lament of Innocence score, Yamane now lives up with her traditional style once again and shows that she has matured a lot during the years of composing since her first Castlevania project Bloodlines in 1994. It was also the first track she composed when Konami came up with the concept of the game and it shows clearly that she was full of energy and ideas. Excellent job. (10/10)

6) Devil Forging

Another cutscene track which is used during a scene where Hector finds his first Innocent Devil and a mysterious man named Zead appears. Only a male synth voice is used in different harmonies to portray an atmosphere of mystery. It's a bit dull and not as effective as other themes of this kind. (4/10)

7) Encounter With the Innocent Devil

"Encounter With the Innocent Devil" is used as background music for Devil Forging rooms where the Innocent Devils can be found. As the rooms themselves look strange, the theme also sounds very odd and mysterious. It's one of those ambient tracks mainly provided by sound effects and dissonant harmonies Yamane used also in Lament of Innocence. It shouldn't have been put on the soundtrack in my opinion. (5/10)

8) Followers of Darkness -The First-

Enemies are blocking the way and this battle theme accompanies Hector's fight against them. The style is very similar to "Abandoned Castle ~The Curse of Darkness~" with gothic and rock elements, only more fast-paced and dramatic. The strings are used excellently here as is the percussion. The electric guitars are mostly heard in the background as additional instrumentation and so are not as intrusive as in the first stage. This isn't a problem because the track is full of power and adrenaline even without them. (9/10)

9) Baljhet Mountains

"Baljhet Mountains" is another one of the masterpieces Yamane has created for this score. After the remarkable introduction, which sounds like traditional Indian or Libyan music with deep violins and male chanting, the rhythmic percussion sets in together with a pulsing string line, harp arpeggios, and a catchy and playful melody provided by some kind of clavi instrument. In the second part of the melody an woodwind joins and the strings take over to a more dramatic and lush ending. Thereafter the male chanting from the beginning returns in a little interlude together with tribal bongos until the theme loops. It sounds like Yamane had a lot of fun while composing this tune. It works also excellently during the context of the game for the adventurous journey through the wide mountain range. Some people find this kind of track too cheerful to fit into the dark story of Hector's travelling, but that's exactly what is fun about it. It's a memorable and very well-developed piece and I'm glad that Michiru Yamane came up with something so fresh. (10/10)

10) Encounter with a Certain Witch

A surprisingly good cutscene track used when Hector first meets Julia in the mountains. After the rather ominous string ensemble introduction the piece gets more lighthearted and lush in the second section with the first soft variation of Julia's Theme later heard in its full version. An absolutely beautiful track that works nicely inside the story. (8/10)

11) Followers of Darkness -The Second-

The first of the two main boss battle themes. Instead of composing one theme for each boss like in Lament of Innocence, Michiru Yamane choses this time to focus more on two themes. This theme is similar to the "Followers of Darkness -The First-" theme only a bit slower and less effective. The percussion can get repetitive after a while and, in some respects, the energy is missing here. I prefer the first version more than this. (8/10)

12) Sarabande of Healing

This theme is used in Julia's shop and serves as her character theme as well. "Sarabande of Healing" features a beautiful and calm melody with pleasant instrumentation such as harp, bells, strings, and violin in the second part. Even if the track is a bit simple it's just so warm and aesthetic. I think this theme focuses mainly on Julia's soft and innocent nature and her fate instead of the image of the witch which she actually is. Very nice. (8/10)

13) A Man Who Knows Too Much

After the rather mysterious woodwind introduction the track gets more dramatic with the use of strings, percussion, and brass in the middle towards the end. This is used when Hector meets Saint Germain the first time. Again, it works excellently during the scene. (7/10)

14) Garibaldi Courtyard

"Garibaldi Courtyard" is also one of those little gems from this soundtrack. Starting off with on a eerie note with sound effects, soon a church bell together with ordinary bells and harp sets in to perform a mystic introduction. Afterwards, cool percussion in form of claps and hi-hats start up and woodwinds and strings perform the main melody, which varies between ominous and lighthearted. A charming and interesting way of illustrating the path to an enormous temple. (8/10)

15) Legendary Belmondo

The fight against Trevor Belmont is underlaid with this epic theme in traditional Castlevania rock style. It begins in a similar way to the third "Followers of Darkness", but develops into a more foreboding piece with fast-paced percussion, strings, and electric guitar goodness by Atsushi Sato. The theme is packed with adrenaline and tension. Around 1:15, there is a really nice interlude with choir to demonstrate the cruelty, egotism, and strength of the Vampire Hunter. Definitely one of the best battle tracks from this score. (9/10)

16) The Man Who Destroyed Dracula

Hector has no chance against the power of Trevor Belmont and loses against him. The piece illustrates the depressing and tense situation quite well. Is he a friend or a foe? (6/10)

17) Garibaldi Temple

The typical stained glass stage is back again and with it a traditional baroque and classical theme by Michiru Yamane. While "Blue Serenade" was a little pretaste of this kind of theme, "Garibaldi Temple" develops into a masterpiece of classical music. It reminds me of "Wood Carving Partitia" from Symphony of the Night because of the similar style and instrumentation, but this theme is more glorious and epic. From the baroque harpsichord passages over the woodwinds to the use of strings and choir, Yamane manipulates the track so excellently and beautifully that is is hard not to like it. (10/10)

18) A Mysterious Warning

It is a mystery to me why they packed such a track on the soundtrack. Well, it's a complete score, but this is just a 15 second jingle of sound effects used during an cutscene. (5/10)

19) Mortvia Aqueduct

After a rather ominous introduction, we are presented with another of those playful and catchy area themes from this score. "Mortvia Aqueduct" has a brilliant piano melody which is underlined with strings, brass, and frenzied percussion along the way. The atmosphere goes from mysterious over to adventurous, yet with a slight epic touch around 1:14 or 1:57. So you love being close the water, Ms. Yamane, hm? Well, this piece shows that she had fun while composing again and that's an excellent sign. (9/10)

20) Mortvia Fountain

This piece is an very interesting composition. It's one of those themes which recall lots of memories from Symphony of the Night soundtrack as well as other soundtracks, such as Suikoden IV. The beginning and the part around 1:20 reminds me heavy of "Lost Painting" from Symphony of the Night, while the section from 0:48 shows huge similarities of "Hidden Offense and Defense" from the Suikoden IV score. As for the track itself, it's very pleasant, atmospheric, and catchy. The touch of ethnicity here is also fantastic. (9/10)

21) Followers of Darkness -The Third-

In the final version of the "Followers of Darkness" trilogy, the electric guitars get more prominent here together with percussion, synth bass, and light strings in the background. They portray an atmosphere of tension and drama, but sadly it's again missing the power and adrenaline the first version had. So there is nothing new here and Yamane only made the theme worse and more repetitive. (7/10)

22) Scarlet Fine

A small jingle of piano and strings used as the game over theme. (5/10)

23) Proboscis Fairy

Uhm... yeah... wait, is this Castlevania, or did I switch the game? No... it is. Did Michiru Yamane take too long a party then? Those were my first thoughts when I first listened to this track, then I saw that this little jingle was composed by voice editor Yuka Watanabe. The piece is separated into three parts. The first begins with a very happy-go-lucky tone featuring a jazzy and dancin' atmosphere until the music suddenly fades down and a more fast and bizarre section is played. Thereafter the first part is reused and ends with a big cheer. It's a nice slapstick piece, but totally inappropriate in context and too short. I'm not one of those people who can actually applaud this. (6/10)

24) Pumpkin's Holiday

I wonder what the sound crew did that day... Obviously Yamane was infected with craziness as was a person named Teshigawara. Yeah, the infamous humming pumpkin is back from Lament of Innocence and performs again a weird melody I can't identify until he drowns forever in the vast bottom of the sea. Haha... Oh my goodness. A doctor, please, for Michiru. (5/10)

25) Those Who Desire the Resurrection

One of those climactic cutscene themes we've come to expect. From the foreboding string section at the beginning to the action part at the end, it's quite effective in the game. (6/10)

26) The Forest of Jigramunt

"The Forest of Jigramunt" is another excellent area theme from Yamane. It opens with tribal bongo percussion and surrounding glockenspiel effects until the beat kicks in together with strings. This leads into the main melody which is performed by an string ensemble and harpsichord in the background. This theme features a slower tempo than other area themes and the atmosphere is more gloomy, lonely, and epic with the different sections and development of the strings. Around the two minute mark the instruments make a little interlude, after which a horn accompanies the melody in the background. Overall, a wonderful nice way to portray a person inside a large and silent wood full of monsters. (9/10)

27) The Cave of Jigramunt

Even if this track can't match with the previous one, it is still acceptable way to portray a cavern. In some way it reminds me of "Rainbow Cemetery" from Symphony of the Night, but this track is a little better developed. After the gloomy introduction a bell motif together with pumping percussion sets in, which develops slowly towards the end of the track. Some weird sound effects and choir samples follow while strings and woodwinds show up later. Overall, I'm not a big fan of this track given it's quite repetitive. However, it fits again to the scenery of the game. (8/10)

28) Cordova Town

With "Cordova Town", Michiru Yamane returns to her progressive rock style and creates a stunning piece for for an abandoned town with no human beings. Acoustic guitar and hi-hats lead us into the track and the music slowly builds with different additions such as percussion, synth lines, and electric guitars. Around the 0:40 mark, the main melody enters on unusual synth and the traditional "Vampire Killer" theme even makes a short four note appearance at 0:55. There are even some notes from Bloodline's first stage theme "Reincarnated Soul" if you listen carefully from 1:42. All in all, an excellent and fun theme. (10/10)

29) Waltz of the Lazy Chair Room

Yuka Watanabe makes her second contribution to the soundtrack with her theme for the chair room. This is used in a little slapstick game during the main story where you can collect various chairs through your walkthrough. The theme itself is quite fun to listen to, even if it sounds 100% out of place, like the place itself. It sounds like a merry-go-round carnival tune with its use of accordion, rock organ, and glockenspiel to create a weird but pleasant atmosphere. Violin and harpsichord later add a bit of baroque and classical feeling to the piece. The melodies are fine and the arrangement is pleasant done, so why not listen to it? A nice bonus track. (8/10)

Disc Two

1) Young Nobleman of Madness

The second disc opens with a bang with this exciting battle theme. While the title is similar to one track from Symphony of the Night, namely "Young Nobleman of Sadness", the overall style is also nearly identical with heavy use of electric guitars, strings, percussion, and some of the voice samples from "The Cave of Jigramund". The track gets straight to the point with gorgeous use of guitars and strings until the "Prologue of Fate" theme from the beginning of the soundtrack enters around the one minute mark to portray a fight between two fateful characters. Overall, I'm impressed with this track. Yamane demonstrates once again her ability to create some excellent rock tunes. What an opener! (9/10)

2) The Sibling's Sad Destiny

While this theme also accompanys a cutscene, it is one of the more developed tracks of this kind. It starts of with some depressed strings and woodwinds, after which an oboe performs a variation of the next track, "Eneomaos Machine Tower", together with harp. It delivers the sad atmosphere which was needed during the game. (7/10)

3) Eneomaos Machine Tower

Well well, the traditional clock tower is this time renamed into machine tower. Its theme, however, is traditional and excellently done. The piano is used as the main instrument here while typical orchestration and fast percussion accompanies it. The track opens with deep piano chords, while a clock is ticking in the background. The strings and percussion enter slowly and builds up together with woodwinds until the main melody starts at 0:30. There is an excellent dramatic section around 1:23 and further development when the strings take over. The interlude at 2:25 until 2:48 before the track starts again is also very nicely done. Enormous, beautiful, and multifaceted, I have never heard a more beautiful clock tower theme before in any Castlevania game. (9/10)

4) The One Who Manipulates Time -First Part-

Just a short powerful tune which nicely leads into the following theme. (4/10)

5) The Visitor in the Silk Hat

For this special boss theme Yamane chose the orchestral and action-packed route. As this is one of the more heroic and dramatic themes, it represents the personality of Saint Germain and his mysterious powers very well. It starts on a dramatic orchestral note, then the piece builds up into a nice percussive section with heroic melodies performed by strings, horns, and woodwinds. Even if it is a bit short, it's definitely one of the strongest battle themes around here in my opinion and one of the more creative and well developed ones too. (9/10)

6) The One Who Manipulates Time -Last Part-

Another short track and just a reprise of the second part from "The One Who Knows Too Much" from the first disc. (5/10)

7) Catacombs of Grief and Sadness

From this piece onwards, the mood gets more serious and anxious to portray the impending showdown. This, however, is just a few scary sound effects of the experimental kind previously featured on the Lament of Innocence soundtrack. Totally skippable. (3/10)

8) Legion and Nuculais

"Legion and Nuculais" is the theme for an optional boss and features an orchestral style similar to the fifth track. While the beat is this time more straightforward, the melody develops slowly and builds up until the one minute mark, where woodwinds perform a rather playful section together with the strings. The piece is a bit too lighthearted if you consider what this boss is, but all and all it's an enjoyable piece. (8/10)

9) Aiolon Ruins

As I said earlier, the atmosphere gets more serious from now on towards the finale and this one adds to this pacing. However, this piece indicates that Yamane is running out of ideas in my opinion, because the theme is rather a medley than an original track. After an eerie introduction, a woodwind melody sets in performing a melody similar to the playful "Dance Hall" from Aria of Sorrow. Around the one minute mark, the "Melancholy Joachim" motif from Lament of Innocence makes a lush but inappropriate appearance. The medley closes with an variation of the "Garibaldi Courtyard" theme. As for the overall development, it clearly lacks and the atmosphere is a bit dull. Clearly, this area theme is one of the weaker and more uninspired contributions from the score. (7/10)

10) Aiolon Cave Temple

Yamane makes a second attempt at conquering Aiolon with this theme and luckily she offers something better than the first version. While the piece starts a bit repetitively with steady use of percussion, bells, and woodwinds to create a rather mysterious aura, the piece develops nicely towards the one minute mark and there are some nice build-ups and interludes subsequently. It still lacks the impact of earlier themes, but it's tolerable. (8/10)

11) Isaac vs Ralph

Exactly the same theme as "Devil Forging" from the first disc only with a different title. A definite filler track. (4/10)

12) The Power of a Hunter

A very short theme with some percussion and strings, which adds absolutely nothing to the atmosphere and overall score. (4/10)

13) Infinite Corridor

"Infinite Corridor" is a very strange and dissonant sounding theme packed with eerie effects like choir passages, bell arpeggios, high pitched strings, and some percussive effects. It builds up an appropriately anxious and tense atmosphere, but overall simply lacks on memorability and development. (6/10)

14) Reviving Dracula's Castle

A bit more interesting here. A church organ and strings are used in the first section to portray the rising of Dracula's Castle from the raged sea. The second part features a more ambient nature with hi-hat and strings until woodwinds and piano set in at the one minute mark to lead the theme out in a mysterious way. One of the more fitting themes. (7/10)

15) Julia's Advice

Another cutscene track. It begins with timpani and strings performing a sorrowful melody until some woodwinds set in around 0:47 and add a feeling of beauty and tragedy to the piece. Even if it's short, the track is quite strong and effective. (7/10)

16) Dracula's Castle

So finally we reached the last stage of our journey. When I first listened to this score I was hoping for a remix of Symphony of the Night's "Dracula's Castle", but sadly this isn't the case here. Instead she created another rock-based area theme, which alternates between more mellow sections with harp arpeggios and strings and more action-packed guitar-drived parts towards the middle of the track. It's quite well-balanced, but the overall theme lacks the memorability and enthusiasm of previous tracks. (8/10)

17) Confrontation -The First-

A reprise of the second part from "Reviving Dracula's Castle" with an additional climactic ending. (6/10)

18) Confrontation -The Second-

Michiru Yamane creates a stunning atmosphere with this track. The strings develop excellently during the theme and the choir is simply amazingly used, from the dramatic build up at the beginning to the climactic lead out. The harsh piano chords at the end are also a nice addition to the track. I find the harp in the middle is a bit out of context. Even if it rather unmelodic, it builds up the perfect atmosphere which is needed for that scene. (7/10)

19) The Dark Holy Man

Zead is no holy man, like Yamane said, and his boss theme proofs that she's right. It is the ultimate climactic battle theme from this soundtrack and she doesn't hold back to demonstrate the dramatic and fearful aura of the boss, from the powerful string and brass passages to the harsh piano chords and the excellent use of percussion. The track is also highly reminiscent to some orchestral tracks from Symphony of the Night, for example "Cursed Sanctuary" or "Death Ballad". In any case, it's a very effective track. (8/10)

20) Dracula -The First-

"Dracula -The First-" uses the same style as "Confrontation -The Second-", though it is a bit shorter and more dramatic. It fits the scene quite well, but the strings in the second part sound catastrophic. (7/10)

21) A Toccata into Blood Soaked Darkness

So we've finally reached the traditional battle with Lord Dracula in his throne room. Like in Lament of Innocence, Michiru Yamane doesn't use "Dance of Illusions" as the basis and instead creates a new theme, incidentally one of the most popular pieces from this score. Starting off with some minor organ notes and crashs, the melody transforms into a slow building theme reminiscent of the classic "Bloody Tears" while sinister strings, a choir, and some electronic effects join in the background. Around 1:08 the fast-paced beat kicks in and the organ performs a dramatic passage until some brass notes appear around 1:45 to add power to the overall glorious atmosphere. All in all, it's a solid battle theme with beautiful melodies and instrumentation. However, the percussion line could be varied a bit more and the organ line in the background can get a little bit repetitive after a while. Still, it's definitely one of the highlights. (9/10)

22) Metamorphosis to the Black Abyss of Death

The last battle with a transformed Dracula is accompanied by this frantic theme, where Michiru Yamane uses typical crisis elements like strings, percussion, and woodwinds. Instead of relying on a melody like in the previous track, the focus here is mainly on provided a tense and action-packed atmosphere: everything or nothing. It's also nice to see that Yamane reuses woodwind notes around 0:24 from Dawn of Sorrow's final battle theme "Piercing Battle Fury". It works excellently, but is one of the less enjoyable battle themes from the score. (7/10)

23) Dracula -The Second-

The first section features some notes from "Eneomous Machine Tower" together with light percussion. Afterwards, some weird electronic effects appear and the piece stops for a while until the second section begins with mellow strings and woodwinds. One of those typical tracks that only work in-game. (7/10)

24) Epilogue ~A Time of Hope and Resolution~

The track starts with a variation of Julia's Theme heard in "Encounter with a Certain Witch" with soft harp and strings until the strings perform a more serious passage and woodwinds join to give an peaceful atmosphere. It fits the scene quite well, but it's rather short. (7/10)

25) True To Your Dreams

Like in Symphony of the Night, Michiru Yamane chosed to use an vocal theme for the staff credits. "True To Your Dreams" is an soft and cheesy ballad arranged by Michiru Yamane herself and sung by tenor singer Russell Watson. Yamane's arrangement is perfectly fitting and harmonises excellently with the vocals of Watson, which are quite beautiful at the beginning. However, in the second half when he gets more powerful and stretches his tenor range, his voice reminds me a bit of Kermit the Frog. He shouldn't be compared to star tenor singers, but for this theme he's quite good. This theme is definitely a matter of personal taste. I personally don't like it that much, but for it's acceptable for the game. (7/10)

26) Endless Sorrow ~Long ver.~

As the title suggests, this is an extended arrangement of "Prologue ~Endless Sorrow~" from the beginning of the score. The introduction is a bit different with more use of violin and harp, but the part thereafter is identical to the original. Around the 1:08 mark, the theme gets a little interlude with violin, harp, flute, and percussion, and the piece subsequently ends with a slightly improved variation. Well, I don't quite understand the meaning of this, because it's never been used in the game itself and the newly added sections are not that overwhelming either. (8/10)

27) Narcissistic Reflection ~From Eneomaos Machine Tower~

"Eneomaos Machine Tower" must have been one of Yamane's favorite tracks as it even gets a bonus arrangement. While the original version was a melodious action theme, this "Narcissistic Reflection" is slower and more majestic. It features some added percussion and orchestration as well as new parts within. I like the interlude from 2:08 when it builds up little by little with the use of piano. It ends on an pleasant note that makes you to want even more of this. The arrangement of top notch and it closes the soundtrack on a very positive and charming note. (9/10)


Castlevania: Curse of Darkness features a nice repertoire of new tracks composed by Michiru Yamane and shows that she has retained her ability to produce exciting and fitting themes. The traditional rock style of the series finally returns after its absence from Lament of Innocence, but in some tracks there is a clear lack of emotion with the use of the electric guitar, even though most tracks are enjoyable. The stage themes are splendid and well composed whereas the battle themes are sometimes lacking the right impact, especially the two boss themes. There is a huge amount of cutscene-related music within the score, which are all well done, but work almost only in the context of the game. If they weren't used in this score so much, I would have given it a higher rating. Yuka Watanabe's two contributions are somewhat totally out of place, but serve to colour the gameplay. There aren't any remixes of classic themes from the series as well, such as "Bloody Tears", "Vampire Killer", or "Dance of Illusions", which is quite a shame. All in all, it is a bit away from being the best score in the series, but is still a worthy enhancement to Castlevania's musical legacy.

Overall Score: 7/10