So, those Dracula Tribute albums (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) that came out this month -- has anyone given them a listen yet? I gave the techno rock-savvy Volume 1 a spin, and I like it well enough. There are more arrangements that work than not, and while the ones that do aren't exactly envelope pushers, they prove to be a fun listen overall.
Tsukasa Masuko's Vampire Killer is a clean, easy listen, but I never thought we'd ever have to tolerate such cheesily integrated dialogue outside of Ornell Jones and Joey McCoy from Dracula Perfect Selection. I was really looking forward to TECHNOuchi's Bloody Tears, but came away sorely disappointed. I like the musical idea in place, but the original melody deviates so heavily as to render it completely unrecognizable. It's also much too long in length for its own good.
Things take a turn for the better with Takuya Hanaoka's solid blend of synth and guitar work in Cross My Heart, which is a far more faithful interpretation of its original source. Next up is Motoi Sakuraba's organ-heavy Beginning; it's generally inoffensive, but I'm not digging the deep, bassy sound engineering.
Clock Work gets a deserving kickass arrangement from Aki Hata. Great guitar foundation, but it's the fast and lively violin/piano keyboard solo ensemble midway that really puts this one on the map. Denji Sano's arrangement of Simon's Theme plays it safe, almost to the point of being rote in its straight-up techno suit.
In what may be my most favorite track, Manabu Namiki delivers a confident and hypnotizing offering with Calling From Heaven. That music box interlude midway is particularly stunning. Yousuke Yasui goes with an unexpected but refreshing change of pace with Divine Bloodlines, a charming 8 bit/FM Synth-like take on the awesome Rondo of Blood piece.
Masafumi Takada brings the funk with Slash, serving up some crunchy yummy electronica. The grungy textures sound terrific, and like Bloody Tears, this one takes a lot of liberties with the melody, but thankfully finds its footing midway through. Which brings us to Yoshitaka Hirota's The Wolf Revealed, which bears a similar arrangement flavor to Takada's. Cornell's theme from Castlevania Judgment was decent if not entirely memorable, but Hirota makes it ten fold more interesting here. The reined back tempo better accentuates the melody, and the electronic overlays are a lot of fun.
Mitsuhiro Kaneda plays up Dance of Illusions' meaty, aggressive strings for all its worth, while Tenpai Sato practically smothers Voyager with huge, sweeping choir voice performances. Finally, MANYO's New Messiah brings on the cool with a tasty blend of swift tempo and violin. That guitar solo at 2:16 is freaken INCREDIBLE.
Next up: Volume 2!