Silent Hill 3 Original Soundtracks
Silent Hill 3 Original Soundtracks
Konami Music Entertainment
December 18, 2002
Buy at CDJapan
When I had the opportunity to review a Silent Hill album, I immediately thought it would be a fun challenge. All of the Silent Hill albums produce, in my opinion, the most natural sounding rock arrangements found in most game scores, while still bringing a delicate, artistic touch to the atmospheric work required to give the suspenseful events of the game their unique edge. The balance on this album builds on what began with Silent Hill 2, and expands it to include vocal work of two different types (which I’ll talk more about later). Together, these pieces come together to create a score that is truly unique, where the music becomes a real commanding force of the game, both while playing it, and in the view of the general public. In other words, the score identifies the game as being part of the Silent Hill series, not the other way around. In this review, I’ll be looking at some of the tracks which really stand out, and which help to bring the score its own unique edge. However, I will exclude the atmospheric tracks from my review, simply because (to me at least) they all sound the same — creepy, yet suspenseful, with low bass sounds and eerie instrumental rifts; perfect for their placement within the game, but difficult to elaborate on through writing.
Let’s start with two tracks which really bring something different to the score, which you don’t see very often. “Float Up from Dream” and “Sun” is two tracks which give epic (pseudo-biblical?) accounts of fear and sorrow through spoken word. “Float Up from Dream” acts somewhat like a prologue, foretelling the possible futures of the game’s protagonists. Among the spoken words, are synthesizer chords which help to create the necessary mood of foreboding. “Sun” on the other hand, is a direct spoken line, detailing the emergence of a female God into the world, as well as her death. The track is only accompanied by light synthesizer in the background, which never becomes strong enough to drown out the spoken passages. This is a good thing, as part of what makes this track so interesting is the choice for the vocals. Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, one of two vocalists in the Silent Hill series, offers her low, soothing voice, which is what really defines these tracks. A higher voice, or a voice with an accent, may not have been able to pull it off as effectively.
Now, I’d like to turn to the rock pieces I spoke of in my introduction. Many of the rock pieces in the score for Silent Hill 3 involve a standard rock ensemble: drum kit, electric guitar, and bass. However, these instruments are combined with synthesizers to give atmospheric pieces a beat, and to provide a driving force for each track. “Please Love Me… Once More” demonstrates this nicely. The track features synthesizer whole notes, which provide a hint of a melody, while a jazz guitar offers a recurring melodic pattern. The drum kit in this track in particular provides enough of a beat to push the track, without becoming overpowering. Slight syncopated rhythms in the snares also help to create the illusion of movement. “Dance with Night Wind” expands on this, with the introduction of piano melodic segments, which are supported by synthesizers. Violins also help to create a flow, which is further enhanced by the syncopated drum kit. The kit is what really makes this track stand out, because again, it isn’t overpowering. It supports the melodic segments throughout the rest of the track, and provides the necessary push that otherwise, if it wasn’t included, would make the track repetitive and dull. “Walk on Vanity Ruins” builds on this track, by focusing on piano to provide the melody. The sweeping strings are accompanied by a house drum rhythm, which perhaps isn’t the best choice for the track, but still provides an interesting variety to the score as a whole. McGlynn’s spoken vocals also permeate the later half of the track, speaking of conflict and death.
On that subject, it’s time to look at the tracks which really make the Silent Hill series unique: the vocal pieces. Perhaps one of the most identifiable tracks of the Silent Hill series (besides “Laura’s Theme”), “You’re Not Here” comes out strong with guitars blazing. Perhaps not the traditional rock sound, the track encompasses all of the instrumental styling found throughout the rest of the album, combining a strong drum kit rhythm, a prominent guitar counter melody, and soaring lyrics (even if they don’t necessarily make sense in the context of the game). McGlynn’s voice comes out strong during the chorus, while backing off during the verses, matching the instrumentation perfectly. Perhaps the mote interesting use of this song was not in the game itself, but within the movie version of ‘Silent Hill.’ “You’re Not Here” played during the credits of the movie, matching the scenes perfectly as the camera moved its way through the catacombs of the deserted city. In the game, the song doesn’t have as interesting a back-drop: during the opening, it plays with random cut-together scenes from the game. A different version of “You’re Not Here” can be seen in the game DDR Extreme, where the song is accompanied by a full motion video capture of the game’s main character, Heather, singing the song.
“Letter – From the Lost Days” is another prominent vocal piece which also appeared in the movie version of Silent Hill. In contrast, it’s a very slow piece, with light synthesizers and a brush drum kit to add a little beat. McGlynn’s voice is washed out while she speaks of meeting her future self, and the troubles that await her in life. In the game, this piece is very appropriate, as it creates a back-drop to Heather’s past. As she recalls her family’s history in Silent Hill, there’s a real sense of grief in Heather deciding to return to her hometown; a sadness which matches the song perfectly. “I Want Love” provides a mix between these two tracks, with a heavy electronic beat in addition to a brush drum kit. While this particular arrangement of “I Want Love” isn’t my favorite, since it becomes slightly repetitive and a lot of the melody in the lyrics is lost, it still has the correct mood to match it’s placement in the game. “I Want Love (Studio Mix)” is an upbeat version of this track, and more closely matches “You’re Not Here” in style. It accompanied a special promotional video clip for the game. This version really showcases McGlynn’s vocal talents, as it allows her to break into a hard rock vocal range — complete with voice straining and long held notes. This is by far my favorite of all the Silent Hill vocal tracks.
Finally, we come to an arrangement of the opening theme from the first game in the series, “Hometown”. I find it to be a… confusing track. The vocals are provided by Joe Romersa, whose vocal style resembles that found in heavy metal/screamy rock bands. The theme itself doesn’t necessarily demand this over-dramatic vocal style though, and so the track sounds out of place with the rest of the album.
Overall, the Silent Hill 3 score is impressive. The tracks work perfectly with their surroundings, and most importantly they make sense. They have the correct sound without betraying the mood and atmosphere of the game, and they make use of a rock ensemble without creating a style that otherwise would be found in the popular music scene. The vocal work of Mary Elizabeth McGlynn especially produces some of the best and most natural sounding vocal work seen in games to date. The only down-side to this album is the variety. Yes, there is a great set of rock tracks, but in a way they all sound the same — some type of beat, with synthesizers. But, for the most part, this can be overlooked. It’s a great album, and deserves any and all praise.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Andre Marentette. Last modified on January 17, 2016.