Dracula New Classic is probably one of the most sought-after game music CDs in existence. It was released in Japan in not so large quantities about 10 years ago. The CD contains 12 different compositions from the early days of Castlevania, arranged in classical style. This period (culminating with the fantastic gothic music of Castlevania IV) is my favourite chapter of the CV music saga, and since I found a copy surprisingly cheap I decided to go for it.
Depending on what kind of music you're into, you can see this music in a different light. Many people prefer the hard rock of the "Dracula Battle" series. Personally, I prefer New Classic any day, because I feel that it captures the "pagan feel" (if you will) of Castlevania better. The music on this recording has caused a lot of confusion - is it synth or live performance? It's both, mixed together! Another possible turnoff, I know, but for me it works.
No, it more than works, it is indeed very good. Most of the music is played by classical instruments, but the parts that are synth are superb, and seamlessly integrated with the live music. And when you keep in mind that this was made in the early nineties, you can't help but to get impressed - the synth quality is very high. The fact that most of the music interpreted is originally 8-bit compositions help this process well, since the compositions are fairly simple there was more room for the arrangers to concentrate on blending the live and synth music together in a fine way.
As I said before, the original compositions are mostly from the classic 8-bit Castlevania games. There are many pieces from Castlevania 1, 2 and 3 for NES, one piece each from the first two Game Boy-games Castlevania Adventure 1 and 2, and one piece from the more complex SNES Castlevania 4. Even though the composition is simple, the melodies certainly are very good, as anyone that has played these games know. And with the kind of synth quality the music originally had, the difference here is SO much greater than arrange CDs for more recent game music. "Vampire Killer", "Heart Of Fire", "Out Of Time", "Evergreen", "Wicked Child" and "Bloody Tears" - all these classic tracks are just superbly performed. With the synth difference not being so immense, the Castlevania IV track "The Caves" didn't take hold of my attention so strongly as the other pieces, but it was still very good. I just wish that they would have picked more (or different) tracks from CV4 (like "Dracula's Theme", since it had such great music). The best track on the entire CD, however, is probably "Praying Hands" from Castlevania Adventure 2 for Game Boy. This track's great melody was originally very fast-paced, but the arrangement is very mellow while the great melody remains (reinforced), and the synth part is incredible. "Beginning" is probably the best track if we're talking arrangement. Its familiar melody is made very strong by the real instruments.
Of course not all of the tracks are so good. "Dwelling Of Doom" and "Monster Dance", two very good tracks from the NES Castlevania 2, are arranged pretty crappily. But overall this CD is very good, one of my all-time favourite arrange albums. Were this a normal CD I would leave you with this advice: "Very well worth the price!". But in this case it is "Well, if you really like Castlevania and find it relatively cheap (which in the case of this CD isn't cheap at all), you should get it." Otherwise, there are probably better things to spend your money on. But remember - the music is very good.