Akira YamaokaSilent Hill Original Soundtrack
Grade
A
 
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Creepy, dark, industrial and largely ambient, the original Silent Hill soundtrack is by and large the base upon with further soundtracks in the series are created. While later albums have featured more mainstream tracks, most shows signs and elements of the audio created by Akira Yamaoka for the original videogame.

While the music does offer an infusion of "folkiness", especially with the wavering Mandolin of the opening title track, a lot of the core of the music is lulling soundscapes and synthesized industrial beats. Screaming tones and uneasy pitches continual assault the listener, making the experience a bit uncomfortable at times. Rarely has such an offering of music created such a palatable sense of unease on it's own.

After opening with the all-too-familiar Silent Hill, the soundtrack rolls about with various short soundscapes. A lot of the tracks on this soundtrack clock in below the two minute mark, but still manage to drive their theme home. All starts slow but pulses to life near the end. Until Death is loud, abrasive and intense with it's pulsing tones and metal on metal beats. Over begins slowly until it roars into the high pitched wailing and grinding repetitive beat. This kind of slow-build pattern is found throughout a lot of the tracks, such as For All and the aforementioned All.

Even with a lot of the dissonant tones that push a sense of panic and urgency, there are a lot of low-toned tracks that just float along until their end. The likes of Rising Sun, Follow The Leader, Hear Nothing and Heaven Give Me Say all work to balance the flow of the album. These songs may not stand out among the more brutal offerings, but work as a nice segue to keep the whole album from being overbearing.

Killed By Death is one of many tracks that are creepy all on their own, just by the haunting delivery of the music. A number of the tracks feature a repeated metal on metal beat, like Die, which pounds at you fast and hard, but still retains a catchy beat. This is also found, even if to a lesser degree in Dead End. Don't Cry is built of different tones but runs along the same thematic concept.

As you can tell by the comments in the review, this soundtrack really does break down into a couple sets of tracks, but on the whole works wonders, especially alongside the actual content. There are still tracks that buck the trend, like the overpowering Half Day and Ain't Gonna Run, which attack you from the open.

Towards the end, you run into Not Tomorrow, an acoustic guitar piece that lulls you into a false sense of security. Why would I say that? Well, because Not Tomorrow 2 follows up with some of the creepiest tones possible. And then, there's My Heaven, a dissonant, unnerving experience that grates at the nerves.

The last few tracks are probably the most casual friendly as they feel more like traditional instrumental. Tears Of... is a somber acoustic track (with electronic drums and synths) that works nicely as a bridge between the darkness the proceeded and the ending tracks. Killing Time is a swagger-heavy track and She is a rock/acoustic hybrid that was obviously fun for Akira Yamaoka to play.

For fans of the game series, this album is a must own. It establishes so much groundwork that one can not ignore it. If you enjoy soundscapes or dark ambient industrial, then the experience offered here is quite excellent. Good luck locating a copy.

- - Kinderfeld

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