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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate
by Oscar Araujo

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate

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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate (Soundtrack) by Oscar Araujo
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate (Soundtrack) by Oscar Araujo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate (Soundtrack) by Oscar Araujo

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate
Composed by Oscar Araujo
Sumthing Else Music Works (2013)

Rating: 7/10

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“It is truly saddening to think that OSCAR ARAUJO’S score for LORDS OF SHADOW is unlikely to find itself celebrated to the same extent as many other iconic, but arguably inferior video game scores.”

A Sample of Talent
Review by Edmund Meinerts

 

Keeping video game sequels straight has always been a bit of a challenge (is it really MODERN WARFARE 3 or just CALL OF DUTY 372055?) so it’s no surprise that between 2010’s CASTLEVANIA: LORDS OF SHADOW and its forthcoming, officially numbered sequel comes 2013’s MIRROR OF FATE, a spinoff of sorts for the Nintendo 3DS (although it has since spread to other consoles as well). Providing the music for the reboot of this classic game series is a virtual unknown, OSCAR ARAUJO – hopefully, this will be a gateway to more work for the immensely talented Spanish composer. His first entry into the franchise (recently given the deluxe 2-CD treatment) was a blistering orchestral and choral endeavor of massive scope, very much in the vein of HOWARD SHORE’s music for the Middle-earth universe, and is among the most impressive scores ever put to a video game. Expectations are therefore high to see what his continuing involvement with the franchise will bring.

Unfortunately, MIRROR OF FATE fails to reach the high bar set by LORDS OF SHADOW, for reasons that become immediately apparent upon playing the album’s first cue. Due presumably to the much lower budget allocated to 3DS games, the deep organic environment of the first score has been replaced by samples and mockups, making the entire score sound like a demo. And it’s a real shame, because the composition itself is no less strong than its predecessor on paper; given a proper orchestral rendering, this could have been a worthy follow-up. As things stand, your enjoyment of this score will hinge entirely on to what degree you are able to look past those cheap-sounding samples and appreciate the music itself.

Synth mockups tend to fare a lot better when performing rhythmic, action-based pieces. When forced into slower, more drawn-out notes, the cheap sound becomes more obvious. Don’t, therefore, expect a convincing reprise of the emotional grandeur heard in cues like “Castle Hall,” “Laura’s Mercy” and “Love Lost” from LORDS OF SHADOW; the equivalents for MIRROR OF FATE’s cinematics, such as “Gabriel’s Farewell” (2), “Ballroom” (6), “Library” (8) and “Trevor’s Farewell” (13), though decent, are sadly underpowered in comparison. The main theme (1) suffers from a similar affliction, and is furthermore neither particularly memorable nor integrated into the score proper much. In fairness, the first score succeeded largely due to its sheer immensity rather than its thematic material, none of which seems to be reprised here, although there is a brief snippet of action music from “The Final Confrontation” in this score’s “Final Fight” (18) cue.

The in-game action material fares much better, picking up in “Prologue” (3) right where LORDS OF SHADOW left off with those familiar, relentlessly chugging bass strings driving everything along. ARAUJO seems to have placed a little more emphasis on percussion this time, a wise choice considering that instrumental group seems to suffer the least when sampled. “Night Watchman” (5) is a particularly good example of this, the almost loop-like drums pushing the music in a more modern direction that actually functions better in conjunction with the samples than when ARAUJO is merely trying to emulate the previous score. A pounding low-end piano in several cues is another clever budgetary alternative.

Fortunately, the balance between action and cinematics is weighted more heavily in favor of the former than the latter. ARAUJO does a good job of giving several of his action pieces their own unique characteristics, which helps the score at least partially avoid the “wall of sound” effect that plagues a lot of action-heavy video game scores. Examples of this include the precise, hypnotic, clock-like movement of “Theater” (10) and alluring, seductive female vocals of “Succubus” (9). Even the more standard action cues are engaging and welluctured, the final three standing out in particular.

The key to appreciating MIRROR OF FATE is getting over the initial shock and disappointment of not hearing the live orchestral performance that this music undoubtedly deserves. Once (and if) you get over that – and it is admittedly a major factor to get over – It’s surprising just how entertaining this score manages to be, a testament to how strong ARAUJO’s writing is for this franchise. The situation is reminiscent of KEVIN KLIESCH’s music for the 2011-2012 THUNDERCATS reboot, or the scores written by composers like FREDERIK WIEDMANN and CHRISTOPHER DRAKE for the innumerable DC animated films and series – other cases where powerful compositions manage to shine through despite low-budget renderings. Accept that this score was never going to truly rival LORDS OF SHADOW and you may find yourself pleasantly surprised, if not exactly overwhelmed. At the very least, it serves to hold us over until LORDS OF SHADOW 2 comes out.
 

Rating: 7/10


Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Mirror of Fate Main Theme 1:24  ***
2 Gabriel's Farewell 3:05  ***
3 Mirror of Fate Prologue 2:11  ****
4 Castle Arrival 2:31  ****
5 Night Watchman 4:04  *****
6 Ballroom 1:39  ***
7 Necromancer 4:48  ****
8 Library 1:40  ***
9 Succubus 4:41  *****
10 Theater 4:23  ****
11 Reaver 5:23  ****
12 Carousel 2:22  ***
13 Trevor's Farewell 1:43  ***
14 Executioner 3:55  ****
15 Games Room 1:34  ***
16 Lady of the Crypt 4:46  *****
17 Daemon Lord 5:12  *****
18 Final Fight 5:59  ****
  Total Running Time (approx) 62 minutes  

 

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