Akira YamaokaSilent Hill 4: The Room Original Soundtrack/Limited Soundtrack
Silent Hill 4: The Room Original Soundtrack
Silent Hill 4: The Room Limited Soundtrack
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When it comes to the soundtrack for Silent Hill 4, things get a bit difficult. First and foremost, there is an import soundtrack that's composed of two very unique discs. And, then there's the Limited Edition disc that came as a pre-order bonus in North America, which features some of the tracks, but a whole bunch of other stuff (more on that below). From a stylistic standpoint, Silent Hill 4 is a few steps in the same direction Silent Hill 3 was going, with more vocals and a heavier techno/house influence.

Disc one features the main soundtrack, opening with the rock song, Tender Sugar. Waverer follows with a lulling beat and droning tones. This is followed by the piano and scattered tones of Fortunate Sleep. Track four is the powerful Melancholy Requiem, composed of piano and string arrangements that hum to a looped beat. Confinement returns to the more heavy rock/industrial tone that is found in this soundtrack. The beat is infectious and driving. Drops of Silence with an almost bare offering of a pale beat and soft piano. The Suicidal Clock builds its lulling tones towards Silent Circus, an off-beat and dark track that's wonderful for establishing mood.

Traversing the Portals of Reality once again puts the electric guitar to the forefront, rolling on and on with its beat. The tone shifts back to the bass and beat of Into the Depths of Self Discovery. Cradle of Forest is a lot like Hometown from SH3 in that it's pretty iffy as a rock single, especially since the male vocals sound like a bad David Bowie imitation. This is followed by Resting Comfortably, a tone-fest that hearkens back to the first soundtrack. Nightmarish Waltz comes in right behind, leaving an eerie but well performed presence. Acting as a bookend, Pulsating Ambiance acts as yet another tone-oriented throwback to the first soundtrack.

Your Rain shifts the formula back to a vocals-oriented techno/rock single that works nicely, though it almost feels disconnected from some of the other darker tracks. As an odd pairing, The Last Mariachi comes right after, it's stark dissonance unsettling. Wounded Warsong throws the dark techno switch back on and provides a nice beat. This is followed by Underground Dawn - Never Come, Fever Chill and Remodeling, each techno/industrial pieces that provide unique voices. Room of Angel is the real strength of the soundtrack - a bold lyrical story not about the main character but about the villain sung by Mary Elizabeth McGlynn. It's an emotional and poignant song that draws the album's end to a great close. (Yeah, there's the bonus live track, Waiting For You - LIVE At Heaven's Night, but that doesn't count).

Disc two is an odd compilation of twelve tracks that feature spoken drama by Ichiryusai Teisui over Akira's music (largely from the game, but some of it sounds unreleased on any of the other discs). It's a shame that I don't understand Japanese or else I might get a better appreciation of the second disc. I can't tell if this is a dramatization of the game on disc or just some plain wackiness. It's provides an interesting listen, even if it's not presented in the more single oriented fashion of the first disc.

The Limited Soundtrack that came with the North American release features a lot of tracks from the import, including Room of Angel, Melancholy Requiem, Cradle Of Forest, Nightmarish Waltz, Tender Sugar, Your Rain, and a non-live version of Waiting for You. What this soundtrack offers new, though, is a number of unreleased tracks and a few too many remixes. I like remixes as much as the next guy, but, towards the end of the album, the tracks Waverer - Slide Mix and Your Rain - Rage Mix really start to deviate from what makes Silent Hill music so important to the games. This is not to say some of the remixes aren't good - I found Underground Dawn - EEE Mix and Tender Sugar - Empire Mix to be quite enjoyable.

Some of the unreleased tracks really flesh out the body of music from this more techno-heavy soundtrack. Sliced is a creepy soundscape that pulses with keyboard tones until it slides into Fortunate Sleep - Cat Scratchism Mix, one of the few remixes that really doesn't come across as a techno heavy remix. Mayheim I offers a powerfully addictive beat and acidic keyboards, followed by Sunrise, another return to the offbeat audio experience found in earlier soundtracks. Both Lifetime and Last Movie are simple soundscapes that work at setting a tone separate from the more mainstream tracks. Memories II is low in tone but features a scratchy beat.

On the whole, the soundtracks for Silent Hill 4 show a noticeable progression towards recognizable singles and voice tracks. The soundscapes and dark tone is still there, but it's been augmented with more up tempo beats and a wider variety of musical tones. If you have the opportunity to get only one, though, grab the import version as the Limited Soundtrack has a little too much filler and not enough of the actual soundtrack.

- - Kinderfeld

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