Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow - Mirror of Fate Original Game Soundtrack
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Original soundtrack to the 2013 game composed by Oscar Araujo and performed by the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra. "Oscar has composed an epic, sweeping score filled with melancholy and tragedy. For this game, we decided to move away from revisiting old tunes and do something that fit our vision of the game. Oscar's work has garnered a whole new generation of fans and won many plaudits and awards. The success of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow gave us the confidence to keep moving forward with this new direction and not keep looking back to the past."-Dave Cox (Castlevania Lords of Shadow's Producer)
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Whether by consequence of the Mirror of Fate game’s different playability or other influences like track arrangement, the score has more of a stage-by-stage feel combined with Araujo’s other Castlevania work, rather than the embodiment of a “journey” seemingly implied with the original Lords of Shadow. In cases where the music wasn’t as succinct, effective, or enthralling, a weaker album would result, but that isn’t the situation here in terms of the compositions themselves. Mirror of Fate alternates, nay, almost takes turns between tracks of beauty and tracks of action and suspense. However, such flipping back-and-forth doesn’t detract from the overall experience.
Sequences of aural beauty include those at the beginning, “Mirror of Fate Main Theme” and “Gabriel’s Farewell,” where the former presents undulating strings awash in gothic keyboard melody and the latter, albeit with a tinge more melancholy and feeling of yearn, remind of the wondrous scenes of Lords of Shadow like “Labyrinth Entrance” and “Waterfalls of Agharta.” Other area-specific tracks display similar magnificence, like “Ballroom,” whose emotive sound returns the ear to the album’s beginning, “Library,” whose gorgeous string melodies are covered with a light frost of gongs and horns, “Carousel,” which brings to mind Nobuo Uematsu’s work on Lost Odyssey, and most notably one of the album’s highlights, “Theatre.” Therein, gentle string picking is soon joined by flutes and meandering string growth along with motes of piano, before building to a crescendo with Araujo’s near-trademark choral chanting excellence. If there was a spiritual successor to Lords of Shadow’s aforementioned “Waterfalls of Agharta,” Mirror of Fate’s “Theatre” is definitely it. Were it longer, later track “Games Room” might also be in the same vein.
On the side of action-oriented tracks, Mirror of Fate takes some of the thematic material from Lords of Shadow, tweaks it a bit structurally, and reintroduces it with some interesting reflections. Take “Night Watchmen,” for example, where an ascending string melody lends gravitas to driving, folky, harrowing chops, accentuated all the while by scratchy percussion and later, male choral chanting. “Necromancer” has a darker spin, driven by oppressive, heavy piano laying the groundwork for similar male chanting and spiraling forays of horn and woodwind instrumentation. “Succubus” takes us along a different direction, hearkening back to the boss battle setpieces of Lords of Shadow (namely “The Swamp Troll” and “The Ice Titan”) as well as Castlevania: Lament of Innocence’s “Anti-Soul Mysteries Lab,” with its underlying current of soprano vocals bestowing a threatening grandeur that excites on a vehicle of tumult. “Reaver” reestablishes that excitement later, aurally checking “The Warg” from Lords of Shadow while breeding its own unnerving choral chanting, before giving way to a coalescence of synth and organ. It’s with final track “Final Fight” where the beautiful and suspenseful meld together, beginning similar to “Necromancer” before culminating in a string, percussion, and choral assembly that almost perfectly encapsulates the Lords of Shadow and Mirror of Fate amalgam of sound Araujo may or may not have intended.
Castlevania fans are very lucky of late, with proper commercial and CD releases of the last three game outings being issued. Mirror of Fate, though an overlooked game title by some, has a score by Oscar Araujo that’s just as polished and wonderful as Lords of Shadow and Lords of Shadow 2. While the alternating motifs of the album’s tracks initially give one pause, Mirror of Fate’s cohesion is in its pure strength of composition and ability to engage the listener through arresting certainty. Mirror of Fate should be grabbed up posthaste by Castlevania fans and again displays the brilliance of composer Oscar Araujo.
Sadly though, I noticed a number of tracks missing on this CD, including several pieces that were my favorites in the game itself. Maybe they were on the previous soundtrack for Lords of Shadow, maybe not. That's a major detractor for me because every beautiful piece of music in the game is worth enjoying on a single soundtrack.
If you like Mirror of Fate or the Lords of Shadow games, then this is a must. If you're more of a classic Castlevania fan, take a chance with this soundtrack. You may be pleasantly surprised.