Devil May Cry 4 Original Soundtrack
Devil May Cry 4 Original Soundtrack
February 27, 2008
Buy at CDJapan
The Devil May Cry 4 Original Soundtrack is the latest for Capcom’s popular Devil May Cry series. Composed by a plethora of Capcom and T’s Music composers, whose works range from Resident Evil 4 to Sengoku Basara, it continues the trademark sound of combining electronica with both rock elements and orchestral elements. Does it live up to the music featured in the previous games? You’ll just have to read on to find out.
To open the review, as well as the game, “Out of Darkness” plays during the opening sequence of the game. Imagine, if you will, a vocal performance in a church, but at the same time, one of the protagonists, Nero, is running down the street slaying monsters left and right, as he rushes to make it to the church in time. Now that the tone is set, the song itself is quite stunning. Aubrey Ashburn does a fantastic job at exuding a very raw emotional power from her voice, in an almost operatic style. The accompaniment to her beautiful voice is, of course, a traditional string-led composition with some choral layering, adding an ethereal beauty to the instrumentation. Overall, this is an emotional opening and is, in my opinion, the best opening theme in the series, albeit an uncharacteristic one. Continuing on with the scenes, “Genocide” is the piece that really fuses together styles found on the soundtrack. Starting off, it’s a rather ambient piece of music consisting of some low string and choral work, it quickly evolves into an organ-led melody, befitting of the church scene depicted. As the scene intensifies, so does the music. The chorus becomes more epic and the hints of electronica can finally start to be heard. The instrumentation becomes lusher and as it starts to fade away towards the end, electronica mixed with the chorus and orchestration becomes the forefront. This is by far the most interesting portion of this track, but unfortunately, it doesn’t last too long. It’s a very fitting accompaniment to the cutscene it is portrayed in, and while it does lose a little bit out of context, it’s still quite nice.
Many of the game’s dungeon themes are extremely fitting for the game. For the most part, many of the area themes are very ambient in nature. As such, it’s really hard to appreciate many of these pieces on their own. Many of the themes focus on industrial sound effects in conjunction with low strings and none really stand out on their own. Fortunately, this translates extremely well when it comes to the games battle themes; as they fade out, the battle theme intensifies and all hell breaks loose. Many of the battle themes in the game feature a very industrial rock/electronica base. The regular battle theme for the new protagonist, Nero, is called “The Time Has Come.” When I first heard this on the special soundtrack, I was a bit put off by the vocals; however, I must say that as time passed and I played the game, I fell in love with them. The vocalist is almost grungy in style, and it works well with the rock and electronica base that plays underneath. Not to mention, the rhythm of the entire piece is rather exhilarating! The normal battle theme for Dante is “Lock and Load -Blackened Angel Mix-” and definitely takes a different approach than Nero’s battle theme. While the grungy vocal style is still kept intact, there is barely any rock influence at all in the piece given the nature of the original. It’s an exhilarating piece with heavy techno influences. Out of the two, I prefer Nero’s, but Dante’s is equally as entertaining.
However, the best battle themes are definitely reserved for those action packed boss battles. “Sworn Through Swords” plays when you first encounter Berial, a fire demon. It has a very grunge rock flavor to it, with only slight accents of electronica. The vocalist is rather grungy as well, more so than in Dante’s battle theme. It’s a slower, intense battle theme that gets the job done. The next battle I’ll mention is rather interesting one. It features two battle themes, one for when you encounter its tentacles and one for when you encounter the demon itself. “Temptation” is a very electronica heavy composition, full of organ cues and fantastic beats. There are also some harp sections and choral accents added to give a hint of mystery and, while it’s not the fastest piece around, it’s amazingly fitting as you fight these floating women in the snow. The demon itself is a giant frog and, when he appears, “Frozen Frog” begins to play. Like “Temptation” it’s a very exhilarating electronica piece, with a focus on industrial sounds. There are also sections of mystery, but as opposed to organic instruments, we are treated with amazing synth leads. The battle themes can’t possibly get any better, can they?
“Yes, yes they can” is definitely the answer to that question. “The Viper” is an amazing theme for a battle that takes place in the jungle. It’s a fantastic blend of organic instrumentation and electronica with an exhilarating rhythm. The beats are combined with organic instruments like the harpsichord and sound effects that sound like bird calls to create an immersive experience. The melody is a bit hard to discern, but if you listen close enough, you can appreciate the fusion of styles and what each element brings to the table. “Swipe of Sword” is another amazing battle theme. It’s a nice fusion of electronica and rock, with a bit of holy atmosphere due to the organ usage. Extremely intense, it paints a picture of two swordsmen dueling on a bridge. There isn’t much focus on melody, but does there need to be? Sure, there are melodic portions, but the raw power and energy from the track is more than enough to serve its purpose. It’s one of my favorites on the soundtrack. The last battle theme I’ll mention is “Science Will Never Die”. Probably my favorite battle theme on the soundtrack, while the pace is a bit slower than some of the other battle themes I mentioned, it makes up for it in atmosphere. It plays when battling a transformed scientist for the religious cult and thus it combines a variety of styles. While the focus on the piece is on electronica, the addition of rock and choral elements helps elaborate on the atmosphere of the entire piece. Intersperse these elements with futuristic synth leads and you have a rather “scientific” and “futuristic” sounding piece that, while lacking in intensity, makes up for with its overall mood. While there are a variety of other battle themes, I assure you they are all quite good. Some have a more orchestral focus, but there is always a fusion of styles heard within in each one.
So, lastly, I’ll mention the ending themes. “La Vita Nuova -Rebirth-” is a beautiful string, harp, and piano led piece. Featuring two important themes in the game, “Shall Never Surrender” and “Out of Darkness,” it really helps to tie the themes together. The majority of the theme is “Shall Never Surrender” and the vocal-less version is absolutely stunning with harp and crescendoing strings building up the inherent beauty of the piece. As that piece starts to fade, a solo piano is introduced and offers a brief acknowledgement of the “Out of Darkness” vocal theme. As the track starts to fade, electronica begins to build as it transitions to “Shall Never Surrender” seamlessly. Upon first listen, one might be confused as Nero’s “The Time Has Come” battle theme starts to play. For those who haven’t played the game, it’s because part of the ending is interactive and requires you to save the girl from impending monsters. The next portion of the piece is a small prayer like section featuring a male and female spoken word section. The accompanying instrumentation is an organ / synth melody of the “Shall Never Surrender” vocal theme, which it starts to play once the prayer is finished. This is the best portion of the piece, as the male vocalist does an outstanding job of portraying a plea to a loved one. As the piece builds, a female vocalist is introduced and the magical combination makes the track sound a whole lot better. The accompanying instrumentation is rather simple. Synth and strings are responsible for the majority of the piece and the subtle percussion gives a bit of a pop sound to it and really strengthens the performance. It’s a fantastic end to the game if you ask me!
The Devil May Cry 4 Original Soundtrack is a very good album. It features a variety of intense and atmospheric battle themes, such as “The Time Has Come” and “Science Will Never Die” but at the same time, it offers more peaceful themes such as “Out of Darkness” and “La Vita Nuova”. Unfortunately, the entire soundtrack isn’t easily accessible outside of the game. Most of the area themes are ambient in nature and, while extremely fitting in context and appreciable on close listening, are kind of boring outside of context. While there are many pieces I didn’t mention in my review, they are all worth a listen. If you are a fan of the Devil May Cry series music, I highly recommend this one. It’s a step above the Devil May Cry 3 Original Soundtrack for sure, and if you were disappointed with that one, you’ll probably enjoy this one as it is closer to the first two soundtracks in the series.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on August 1, 2012.