Wow, after three and a half years, we finally get to hear a new Silent Hill soundtrack!
I received it last Friday, and have been listening to it a lot the last week. It took a few listen-throughs to get in to, but now I love it. I'm always amazed at how Yamaoka keeps re-inventing the Silent Hill sound in each new release. Each of the soundtracks have their own distinct sound and the style keeps evolving constantly, while at the same time, the core atmosphere and feeling is instantly recognizable. It sounds like a contradiction, but its true. SH0 is no exception: the unique SH sound is there, but it sounds fresh and has new surprises to offer.
If I am to describe the SH0 OST, I have to say that what hit me the most was that its pretty mellow and laid-back when compared to the other soundtracks in the series. I feel the word "brooding" is fitting. With the exception of the vocal pieces, nothing really jumps at you, the flow of the album is very balanced (in other words, on the other side of the spectrum from the SH1 OST, with it's treacherous twists and turns). At first, it was a little disappointing, since there are not many tracks that instantly stick out and effortlessly grab your attention like on the earlier OSTs (I'm thinking of stuff like for example "True" from SH2, "Breeze - in monochrome night" from SH3, "Melancholy Requiem" from SH4, etc.). The quality and tempo is much more even-leveled in SH0, but that doesn't mean that its bad, it just feels a little different to listen to. And there are after all tracks that start to stand out after a while. My favourites so far are probably "Wrong Is Right", "Insecticide", "Battle Drums", and "Snowblind". There's only one VGM composer that creates stuff like this, and we all know who it is.
What was that...? Say something negative about the soundtrack? Grrr...! Well, let's see... Apart from the fact that the mellow-ness of the soundtrack results in the music lacking some of the punch present in the earlier soundtracks (I'm thinking mostly of the "in-your-face" bouncy loudness of SH3, but also the others), there is only one thing I can think of. I know I'm committing heresy by saying this, but here goes... Anyone else getting tired of the vocal themes in recent SH soundtracks? Don't get me wrong, I still think they're very good, but I can't help finding the formula growing a bit stale. For the last three SH soundtracks, we've had vocal themes with (mostly) the same singer, the same type of lyrics (some of which aren't that good, to be honest), done in mostly the same style. When the vocals were introduced in SH3, I loved the way they played their part in developing the sound, but when I listen to SH0, I really feel that this is the part of the audio tapestry that hasn't progressed or evolved very much. To put it bluntly: it feels like they're getting old. And am I the only one who has noticed that once the vocal themes (good as they are) moved in on the scene, the awesome, melodic, and by now legendary instrumental guitar pieces in the earlier games moved out? The soundtracks to SH1 and SH2 had awesome instrumental guitar-work, but how many compositions like "Theme of Laura" or "Tears Of... " have there been from SH3 and onwards? Basically only SH3's "End of Small Sanctuary". The guitar has been delegated to the secondary role of backing up McGlynn's vocals, with the result being that the guitar-work has become more passive and in the background (for example, SH4's "Tender Sugar" was a great song, but it's guitar is eclipsed by the vocals and can't compare with "Theme of Laura", not even near). I really miss hard-hitters like Laura and "Silent Hill" on the SH soundtracks these days, and seeing what a great guitarist Yamaoka is, there's really no reason why this should be. As much as I like McGlynn and her vocal contributions to the series' music, I'm gonna tell it straight: for SH5 OST, ditch her and play the guitar like in the good old days.
However, I know a lot of people like the vocals in the recent SH soundtracks, if you're one of them, you're in for more of the same. I personally can't stand "Shot Down In Flames" and "Blow Back" (only tracks I skip on the CD), but, even with all my criticism above considered, I do love "O.R.T." and "Hole In The Sky".
To summarize: it isn't as overpowering or instantly captivating as the earlier ones, but I'm still with Zane and the_miker on this one. Its another A-class work of art from Yamaoka, and if you like his earlier stuff, you need have no doubts in checking this one out. Am eagerly looking forward to the SH5 OST!