Editor’s Notes: Minuet of Dawn = Aria of Sorrow US. Cross of the Blue Moon = Dawn of Sorrow US. 2-25 “BIGINNING” typo is printed on the soundtrack as such and is not our typo.
I was pleasantly surprised when I heard that Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow and Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow would be released in a two-disc set. If it weren’t for Aria of Sorrow, I would have lost all hope in Michiru Yamane by now. The music in recent console Castlevania games (namely Lament of Innocence) has taken a huge dive lately. However, the Gameboy Advance games have had stellar music from the get-go, and with the series’ recent move to the Nintendo DS, Michiru Yamane shows no signs of slowing down. Simply put, this is some of the best handheld music around.
The first disc covers the soundtrack to the Gameboy Advance game, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow. I felt that AoS had the best music out of the GBA trio due to the increased sound quality. Songs such as “Prologue” and “Underground Reservoir” are creepy and foreboding, yet melodic, typical of a Castlevania soundtrack. Then, you have your traditional corridor themes such as “Castle Corridor” and “Clock Tower,” which are so catchy that you start tapping your toes instantly. They’re filled with electric guitar, a heavy bass, and dark strings, which, despite coming from a Gameboy Advance soundcard, sound pretty good. In fact, most of the instruments are of good quality; they’re not quite as stunning as Riviera: The Promised Land’s instruments, but they get the job done, and it’s easy to forget that you’re listening to Gameboy Advance music. With the exception of a few filler tracks, this is a worthy first disc.
And it only gets better.
The real meat of this collection is the second disc, which covers the recently released Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow for the Nintendo DS. The sound quality is infinitely better and the soundtrack is brighter compared to the dark, broody themes of AoS. This is best heard in “Dracula’s Tears,” which is a jazzy dungeon theme that is a new direction for the series. There are also other jazz influences in songs such as “Platinum Moonlight,” which has jazz chords. In contrast, there are also the traditional Castlevania themes, such as “Bloody Tears” and “Vampire Killer,” which sound just as great as ever. I especially like the instrumentation on “Vampire Killer.” I also enjoyed “After the Battle,” which is a calm, serene peace that is as catchy as it is beautiful. Almost every song on this disc is worth listening to and is unique in its own way.
I attribute Dawn of Sorrow’s success to its team of composers. Whereas Aria of Sorrow was written by only Michiru Yamane and Masashiko Kimura, Dawn of Sorrow features two new composers, which would explain the soundtrack’s slightly brighter and jazzier tone. This is a great team, and I’d love to see them tackle the next Castlevania title. Even better, I wouldn’t mind seeing them make a transition to help out with the next console Castlevania game.
Overall, this album is worth the money. Both of these soundtracks are previously unreleased, and if you’re a Castlevania fan, then you have an obligation to buy this while it’s still available. As with any Castlevania album, there are a few filler tracks, but if you’ve been following Castlevania music for the last fifteen years, then that shouldn’t be a surprise. I’m giving it a 9 out of 10.