Ever since "Silent Hill" was released, it has been a cult game; maybe not as big a success as series like Final Fantasy or Resident Evil, but the game has its loyal supporters. I think that it has a lot to do with not only the game play or the extreme, disturbing scenery, but also the music.
The music for Silent Hill, composed by Akira Yamaoka, is not exactly mainstream VG music. The composer strived to create an atmosphere that would fit the game like a glove. Therefore the Silent Hill OST is very different from other "survival horror" music. There are no grand orchestral themes (like in Resident Evil), and there is no use of strings or piano, or other "conventional" horror sounds as most people know them from movies and games. Instead Mr. Yamaoka uses two genres of music that are far more capable of producing fear: industrial and dark ambient.
There are also some "normal" tracks. These are played during the intro movie and the various endings, and are, as many people already have noticed, very similar in style to Angelo Badalamenti's excellent music for the TV series "Twin Peaks". The instrumentation is simple: guitar, bass and drums; but it still manages to create a feeling of upcoming danger and anxious anticipation.
When I say "dark ambient" I don't mean the strings and piano-segments of Psycho or Resident Evil. The ambience of Silent Hill is, with only a few exceptions, entirely electronic. Sometimes the music can sound like a small humming noise, like a faraway breeze. Other times it can sound like someone sharpening two butcher knives against each other, or an entire hive of bees buzzing, or someone breathing, etc. It is very hard to explain, especially to someone used to more "common" game music, because to many people this doesn't even sound like "music" at all. The only other VGM soundtrack I can compare it to is the "Parasite Eve 2 OST", but Silent Hill is much better made and scarier. One second it can be a low buzzing, and the next second it is a thundering wall of industrial noise that has a far more disturbing effect than any symphony. It may sound awkward, but the CD is structured so that it tells the tale of Silent Hill - tracks flow into each other very naturally. The Silent Hill OST is probably the most graphic soundtrack I have ever heard. It captures the mood of the game very well, and you just can't stop your inner eye from forming (often disturbing) pictures. Being a fan of the Industrial scene for a very long time, I can say that tracks like "Over", "Ain't Gonna Run" and the final boss theme "My Heaven" are among the best pieces of music I've heard in the genre. But the very best must surely be track 14, "Don't Cry". Words escape me when I try to explain the intensity and powerful malice of this track - it just *has* to be heard to be believed!
There is also a track that is significantly different than the others: "Esperandote". This is the track that plays during the credit roll when you get the worst possible ending. It is an Argentinean tango with vocals! This is something really different, and even though it is very well made, it really doesn't fit in and creates a disruption in the flow towards the end of the CD. It's nothing major, though. This soundtrack has one big problem that you will probably notice if you listen to it after finishing the game. The song that plays during the final scene with Lisa (yes, that great, sad song!) is missing! It starts on track 35, but then it fades away after just a few seconds! This was a big disappointment for me (and surely for many others), who really wanted to hear this song, and it is the only bad point of this CD.
In conclusion I would like to say that this soundtrack, despite the fact that one great song is missing, is a true masterpiece. You should avoid this CD only if your musical horizons are narrow, and you can't take original (or scary) music, or if you really hated the game. Those of you that can appreciate unconventional music, or just want variation from the normal Japanese VG music, should give this awesome soundtrack a chance. I can promise you that if it's horror music you're after - this is it. Resident Evil and other horror games have very good music, but if we're talking about scary music, nothing even comes close to the darkness of Silent Hill. And if you, like me, even like this genre of music and listen to it often then there is no question - get the Silent Hill OST now!