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Akumajo Dracula The Stolen Seal Original Soundtrack :: Review by Mac_Tear

Akumajo Dracula The Stolen Seal Original Soundtrack Album Title: Akumajo Dracula The Stolen Seal Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Konami Style
Catalog No.: Promotional
Release Date: October 23, 2008
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Akumajo Dracula: The Stolen Seal (aka Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia) marks the third installment in the Castlevania series for the Nintendo DS after 2005's Dawn of Sorrow and 2006's Portrait of Ruin. Veteran Michiru Yamane returns once again to score the newest entry with a little assistance of Yasuhiro Ichihashi, known for his arrangements for Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles for PSP. So let's check out the secret of Ecclesia...


The soundtrack starts with "An Empty Tome", one of the few tracks which also went on the promotional CD released a few days before this score. Michiru Yamane returns her electronic-orchestral style from Lament of Innocence and creates an effective theme for the opening sequence. While the string melody is the catchy draw, the fast-paced percussion helps to bring some movement into the piece. Definitely one of the more effective opening themes in the series. After two slow and atmospheric orchestral themes for the title and select screens, we come to the prologue theme "Ecclesia". It starts with some minor piano notes together with electronic bass effects. Towards the middle, a church organ leads into the second section, which contains notes from "Vampire Killer", one of some famous Castlevania themes from the past. The arrangement is well done with strings and waltz-like piano chords. "A Prologue" introduces us to the gameplay in an similar style to its predecessors with electronic, rock, and classical influences. It's a simple piece, but the melody is quite catchy.

Time to move forward to the most important thing of these 2D platformers: the area themes. In Order of Ecclesia, these themes are done in an diverse and satisfying ways as always. The first stage theme is one of the most important themes from the series' because it introduces the gamer into the gameplay. "Chapel Hidden in Smoke" does an good job with this, but it's easily surpassed by other tracks like "Invitation into a Crazed Moon" or "Ruined Castle Corridor". It's also one of many tracks which reminds me heavy of Dawn of Sorrow with its playful instrumentation and arrangement. "A Clashing of Waves" is one of the more interesting tracks with extraordinary use of percussion and synth arpeggios. The pulsing bass line works well together with the drums and the distorted guitar in the background is also a welcome addition. "Hard Won Nobility" does also an good job with its similar percussion line and excellent string and harpsichord arpeggios. "Jaws of a Scorched Earth" and "Emerald Mist" are two bouncy themes with some jazz influences; however, they're two of the more weaker tracks from this score and not very interesting outside of the game.

One of the most developed themes is definitely "Rhapsody of the Forsaken". The string and piano lines are fantastic here and the fast-paced percussion is nicely used as well. Michiru Yamane shows that she is still able to compose excellent stage themes for the series. The gothic atmosphere returns with "Unholy Vespers", a catchy little tune with spooky choir, steady percussion, and the use of church organ and harp arpeggios in the second half. It works extremelly well during the context of the game and is for sure one of the better creations thus far. "Wandering the Crystal Blue" takes a more soft and atmospheric approach with a dreamy melody performed by piano and strings. After all those dramatic and energetic pieces it's nice to have such an chillout piece within, which also works well inside the game. "Edge of the Sky", also one piece from the earlier sampler, returns to the familiar Baroque style with its harpsichord and string passages. The only thing which disturbs me is the bass line, which can be annoying after quite a while. "Tragedy's Pulse" recalls some memories from Portrait of Ruin with its low-key percussion and bouncy bass line. The dissonant synth melodies sound a bit confusing at the first listen, but they manage to build up the need atmosphere for the scenery.

So now we've made it into the lair of the devil, the a musical suite is intrdocued with "An Empty Tome", an arranged version of the same named opening theme. It is more straightforward, upbeat, and jazz influenced compared to the deep and dramatic original. The track manages to build up a sense of confrontation and destiny quite well. However I prefer other themes more than this, for example "Ebony Wings". I really like the fast-paced aura of thiis one with its use of organ and electric guitars. It's one of those tracks which immediately calls the name "Castlevania" in your mind. Not an original masterpiece, but enjoyable on its own. The following track is an remix of the "Tower of Dolls" theme from Castlevania Chronicles. I wonder why they picked out a piece which already has four incarnations from the original score. Stilll, this one is nicely done. The melody is quite catchy and the swinging arrangement is refreshing. However, I wished they chosed a stronger theme from the series like in the previous DS episodes. The spooky and atmospheric "Gate to the Underworld" reminds me a bit of Castlevania 64's "Stairway to the Clouds" and "The Colossus". As the last area theme, it is a disappointment right away. It's so ordinarily constructed and features several motifs Yamane has used so often before. Not even the melody is attractive here.

Now let's take a look at the battle themes from this episode. The boss battle themes are more or less a little dissapointment with a few exceptions. "Symphony of Battle" takes, like the name suggests, an orchestral route with a lot of crisis and heroic motifs. It's an new direction away from the rock and gothic stuff and I'm glad they chosed this path with this one for more variety. "Dissonant Courage" is our typical rock-inspired theme with fast-paced percussion, strings, and electric guitars in the background and "Sorrow's Distortion" features an interesting rhythm together with cool synth and guitar elements. It's one of my favorite themes from this score. "Lament to the Master" sounds like an low-key version of Curse of Darkness' boss themes for me, but instead of rock synth and rock organ are used here. The absolutely falldown is definitely "Chamber of Ruin" with its weird mix of electronic, rock, and orchestral elements. It's good to see that they tried to make something new, but Motoi Sakuraba can handle the rock organ definitely better than this one. It sounds too goofy for my taste, especially when its used against important enemies, such as Death. The last battle theme "Order of the Demon", also one of the tracks from the promotional CD, is a typical frantic theme with crisis elements. As I said earlier, this type of theme isn't one of Michiru Yamane's strong points; it sounds too clichéd and hectic for my taste.

The remaining tracks are mostly used for events or various game settings. These tracks aren't one of the best points of Yamane either, but most of them work well in the context of the game. "Waltz of the Evening Moon" features a soft and gentle melody with addition of some acoustic elements later while "Fantasia of Beautiful Dreams" does a good job painting the world map in the second half after your last destination has appeared. The shop theme "Armory Arabesque" is also a nicely balanced composition with several classical and baroque elements. "Enterprising Mercantilism" is Dawn of Sorrow's shop music with slightly changed melody. I really like the title by the way. "Requiem of Star-Crossed Nights" is a lyrical piece similar to Yamane's usual ending themes. The part when the main theme appears around the two minute mark is well done. "Lone Challenger" is also a favorite of mine from the soundtrack. It's so energetic and adrenaline pumping with its frantic use of percussion and synth pads. Listeners should recall "Scarlett Battle Soul" from Dawn of Sorrow with this piece, as the arrangement is identical.

Finally we have "RIDDLE", a bonus arrangement from Castlevania III. I really like this remix with its retro styled melody and various rock elements. A little unexpected, but a new addition to the soundtrack. A bunch of arranged tracks from Order of Ecclesia have also been added at the end of the score. Six tracks, one of them could be heard on the earlier sampler. The arrangements are done very well, but most of them are straightforward and similar to the originals. My favorites are "An Empty Tome", where the string and rock elements really comes to life, "Wandering the Crystal Blue" from the promotional CD, and "Rhapsody of the Forsaken" with its excellent string melody and piano chords. Also the final battle theme appears more attractive here compared to the original.


Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia's soundtrack is a somewhat worthy successor of the series' musical legacy. Michiru Yamane does a solid job with her contributions once again. The stage themes are the soundtrack's best additions like always and I like the diversity here. There is traditional gothic rock with "Ebony Wings", catchy and almost playful themes like "Chapel Hidden in Some" or "Unholy Vespers", more groovy and jazz oriented pieces such as "Emerald Mist", and low-key atmospheric ones with "Wandering the Crystal Blue". Definitely a step forward from the sometimes similar sounding themes in Portrait of Ruin or Dawn of Sorrow. The soundtrack isn't always original or memorable and, like in every Castlevania score, has its strong and weak points. In my opinion Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia is a mixture between the two previous DS episodes, but with sometimes enhanced quality. I personally woudn't define this soundtrack as the best from the DS triology, because I liked Portrait of Ruin in some way more than this one, but it's a solid album with a nice selection of good tunes and even some additional arrangements at the end. Sadly, this soundtrack was only available as bonus via pre-ordering the limited edition of the game in Japan. But if you have the chance, it's worthy to check out!

Overall Score: 7/10