One of the most interesting and perhaps misunderstood releases of the decade, "Biohazard Symphony: Opus 91" is one of those rare items that is junk to some listeners but pure gold to others. I got the CD, which is composed and conducted by Mamoru Samuragouchi, for two reasons. First, it had the word "symphony" in its title, and I needed a good symphonic fix. A distant second was that since it was Biohazard, I figured I'd get a good mixture of thrills, with symphonic goodness to boot. It seemed experimental, so I was skeptical, but I decided to give it a try. A year or so later, I'm really glad I did.
But not at first. The compositions are curious, frenetic, and unmelodic in terms of their presentation, although there is a kind of overall gothic influence in the tracks. From the best I can tell, "Piano Sonata Bio Hazard", a piano solo that is 10 minutes long, really doesn't have that much repetition... it's so odd to listen too, I can't even begin to explain it. Rarely is the same piece of music heard in a song more than once, or even among the 38 songs on the CD. Many of the tracks are just snippets, between 30 seconds and a minute and a half long. Those tracks aren't really that effective in terms of ability to set mood, but taken on their own they are nice little pieces of music that seem like they would fit like a glove into any Biohazard game.
The longer tracks are the real treasures of the CD. With a bevy of unconventional sounds, such as lightning strikes and modified violin screeches, Biohazard Symphony is shocking to the senses. The overall dark and foreboding essence conjured up by Samuragouchi is better than any horror picture score I've heard. With frequent and violent-sounding shifts in tempo (especially in Tempest) you are lulled into a false sense of tranquility and security; then it is completely destroyed in a scream of instruments and fast-paced music - as if, literally, all hell is breaking loose in your CD player, and it's trying to claw its way out through your speakers. I am not kidding. The opening song is a gothic, Frankenstein/Dracula-sounding piece with bell towers ringing and organs blazing. Think of "Toccata in Fugue", only a lot scarier.
This dissuaded me from listening much further to the CD, and it sat on my shelf for quite a long time until I decided to give it another chance. I let my ears really listen and feel along with the aura and moods that the musical pieces were trying to evoke, and I was sucked in.
It's all just weird. The track listing is in a combination of Italian and Japanese. Even the packaging is a weird double-CD flip case, with the other disc being a small mini-CD with sound effects, game music, and character dialogue directly from the game.
If you like horror music, I'm guessing you'll like Biohazard Symphony a lot. I'm afraid that for many people this will be either a hit-or-miss CD, depending on your likes. Give it a chance to work its way into your mind and you'll love it. If you're a fan of music with gothic themes, I would suggest this intriguing piece that truly has to be heard to be believed.