Silent Hill 3 Original Soundtracks
Silent Hill 3 Original Soundtracks
Konami Music Entertainment
December 18, 2002
Buy at CDJapan
Silent Hill 3, the series’ second game on the PlayStation 2, was the first game in the series with a female protagonist. Its plot is directly tied to the first game as a sequel, dealing with the town’s resident cult once again. Akira Yamaoka retained his position as sound producer and composer, but took on the role of producer as well. The game was well-received, but some criticism was voiced regarding the lack of changes to the gameplay. In music, however, it underwent the series’ biggest change to that point: the addition of vocals.
Aside from Muranaka’s song for the first game, “Esperandote”, the series had featured no songs until this score, and aside from a few samples, no vocals of any kind. Silent Hill 3‘s score opens with an a capella vocalise from Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (who was credited as Melissa Williamson on the original release), which sets the tone for the music to follow. The voice takes on a prominent role throughout, in contrast to the previous scores; in addition to the McGlynn songs, of which there are three (plus the aforementioned vocalise and an alternate version), Joe Romersa sings the ending, “Hometown”. The voice actress for the game’s character Claudia, a fanatical cultist, recites some of her lines and other bits from the game between, and at times during, certain tracks. Furthermore, the bonus track at the end, remixed by a Swedish band called Interlace, features vocals as well. Clearly, the soundtrack has an entirely different focus from its predecessors.
The first of the album’s McGlynn songs, “You’re Not Here”, immediately follows the opening vocalise, “Lost Carol”. The song follows an odd ABCA structure, fading out on solo guitar and vocal interjections over the chords of the initial A section. It feels a little imbalanced. As per Yamaoka’s usual, the guitars echo heavily and vibraphone supplements the texture. More traditionally structured, “Letter – from the Lost Days” is a trip-hop song, sung from the perspective of a girl writing to her future self. The majorty of the vocal is put through a filter, as if it were on the other end of a telephone line. “I Want Love”, the other McGlynn song, is presented in two very different versions. The one in the middle of the soundtrack, is overdubbed with electronic elements and a drum loop, while the longer “Studio Mix” is in a straight rock style. McGlynn sings with passion throughout all of the songs, even if the lyrics are at times awkwardly written.
The rest of the score is structured in discrete pieces, as opposed to the merged tracks of the first two games. These are also more individually developed than before, with clearer harmonic progression, so less of the score is “ambient” as such. “Sickness unto Foolish Death” opens with a distant rumbling. A lo-fi drum loop starts up, then an electric piano melody. A sampled flute joins in before the rhythm is replaced with staccato string chords and acoustic guitar. Just as everything returns, the harmony takes a sudden turn to the major before closing in a clear cadence in the minor. The flute closes out quietly over the remnants of the jumping bassline.
“Maternal Heart” develops slowly out of an electronic rhythm track that is disturbed by synth chords in a different key, which then give way to a texture dominated by synth choir and voice. At the end, it is reversed, and the synth jabs reappear. “Rain of Brass Petals” repeats an ostinato bass and piano chords with a sitar-like instrument playing melody. Later, strings take over the primary role, and instead of simply repeating the sitar’s material, they provide new material that brings the track to a close.
There is more traditionally ambient music as well. The slowly moving chords comprising “Float up from Dream” never settle down into a clearly defined key, and the echoing synth of “Memory of the Waters” is slightly out of step with its underlying rhythm. “Prayer”, the most immediately frightening track on the disc, is a collage of gutteral chanting, odd choral interjections, screeching, and scraping that begins and ends suddenly. The synth chords in the background of “Sun” are used simply as background for the recitation of the cult’s creation myth. Finally, the restless falling lines of “Uneternal Sleep” seem as if they would turn into melodies if not for the harsh melange of scrapes and moans surrounding them.
The ending song, “Hometown”, is an adaptation of the first game’s opening theme, “Silent Hill”, emphasizing its trip-hop rhythm. Romersa’s performance feels ill-matched to the music, but perfectly suited to its strange lyrics. It’s more odd than terrible though, unlike the bonus track “Rain of Brass Petals – Three Voices Edit”, the lyrics and vocals of which seem ripped out of the worst of gothic metal. The remix destroys the original’s balance, adding distortion and emphasizing the rhythm more than necessary.
Silent Hill 3 marked another milestone in the series, introducing the vocal talents of Mary Elizabeth McGlynn. She has continued to be the voice of the series in future installments, and indeed has continued to work with Yamaoka even since he has left Konami. The soundtrack doesn’t have the same continuous quality of its predecessors, nor the subtle dramatic arc of 2, but the music is of good quality nonetheless, and it took the series in a new direction. Just as the game did with its female protagonist, the soundtrack brought a new perspective to the series, developing its musical style further.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Ben Schweitzer. Last modified on August 1, 2012.