Gario

*NO* Castlevania: Symphony of the Night 'The Son of Dracula' *PROJECT*

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ReMixer: mikedm92

Real Name: Michael Markie
Email: 
UserID: 33294
 
Game: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Name of Arrangement: The Son of Dracula
Name of songs arranged: Dracula's Castle (and a lead from The Tragic Prince)
 
Comments: It truly is a magical experience the first time you march through the first halls in Symphony of the Night, destroying every creature in sight as the Dracula's Castle theme plays. There are few things that evoke more nostalgia than this moment. I tried to balance the elegance of strings with the bad ass might of a heavy metal band to capture the spirit of this game, and that was no small task. Getting a 40 piece orchestra to play nice with distorted metal chugging guitars is pretty tricky! The game's OST is also fairly progressive genre wise, and I wanted to bring that out with a prog metal style lead, which is actually a wavetable synth that I ran through a real guitar amp head and cabinet which I then mic'd and recorded. By running that synth through the same set up I put my rhythm guitars through, they were able to gel really nicely with each other right out of the gate.
Edited by Liontamer
closed decision

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Great sources, powerful arrangement (if a bit short). While a hair conservative, there's considerable effort to expand it at key moments and build the track up far more effectively than the source ever did.

It's not perfect, though. The mixing is a little off for a considerable portion of the track. The beginning buries the guitar part for no noticeable reason, and the lead at 0:35 gets pushed behind the rhythm guitar and bass. It's not a deal breaking issue (as the parts are still pretty easy to hear - you never lose the leads completely), but it's still a bit distracting.

Some of the notes clash in this. At 0:56 the bass clashes with the lead for half a phrase - it really called for a note a half-tone higher than what's in the bass that drops down to the note that plays there. At 1:32 there's a passing note in the melody that's a half step too high - not a big deal since it's a decorative note, but still something I feel should be pointed out.

It's a close call, but I think it's passable. The mixing isn't ideal, the arrangement is pretty short overall and there are a few missed notes, but the production polish can't be ignored on this one, and the arrangement is pretty powerful throughout. I dig it.

YES

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This is neat because I just finally got to playing through SOTN after years of it sitting in my backlog. I will say that this is pretty close for me. Gario's crits area really solid here, and I'm finding that the balance is the biggest thing I have issue with. The opening has the guitar buried, and at :35 the synth feels like it's being buried a bit behind the rest of the arrangement. Overall the arrangement itself is pretty fun, and I enjoyed the second half the best with the slight rhythmic change on the original. The ending is also super abrupt, like it was cut off too early.

I think I'm just behind the fence here, but I'm curious what the rest of the judges think. For now it's a 

NO (resubmit) from me. Good luck!

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Well, this will be a short vote for me: solid arrangement, faulty production.  Deia is right that the balance is off here, with the initial section burying the guitars, 0:38 burying the strings behind the drums and guitars, and 1:38 sounding a bit confusing from the mixing standpoint, as the staccato strings sound oddly compressed while the guitar comes in but doesn't sound very clear either.  The next section around 2:12 has the rhythm guitars overpowering the rest of the mix except the drums.  

I think this is in need of a second mix pass.  I feel like the track's balance issues could be coming from the mastering overcompressing things and doing these odd balance changes between sections.  I'm reading -9/-8 rms in the busiest sections which tells me that even if this doesn't solve all the issues, relaxing the overall compression will do lots of good to this track.

NO (resubmit)

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The guitar performance of the "Tragic Prince" line from :02-:21 was off-key in spots (i.e. :09-:12, :19-:22) AND was buried under the vox and strings; can't say any of that mixing made sense, nor did the abrupt transition at :28 (which I can live with).

Pretty rough synth string articulations starting at :35, though the part's under the guitar chugs and more like a synth sound than organic strings, so it's not awful, just not ideal. Gario's right about the off-key stuff at :56, though it was in and out quickly, so not a big deal.

Pretty structurally conservative take on this theme as you hear it transition to the next section of the theme at 1:05, though it's certainly personalized some with this more intense instrumentation that includes some new additive writing (mostly from the drums). It nonetheless felt paint-by-numbers in how straightforward and similar the melody, tempo, and structure were.

Vox stuff brought in at 1:36 added some good depth, although they were pretty muddy up until around 1:59; the vox placement, while still muddy, sounded more appropriately placed when it was quieter during the 2:22-2:36 section going to the finish. When the other Js mention overcompression, the vox suffered as a part of that, and you ended up having some extended sections within such a brief track where the soundscape's too cluttered.

Small detail, but at 2:38 for the close, it's weird having the soundscape sound full and spacious, then all of a sudden all of the parts drop out, and you're left with just the guitar for a second sounding super duper dry and upfront; make sure your soundscape is consistent.

Whereas just addressing the crowding/overcompression would swing the other NOs, I'd personally like to hear more melodic interpretation somewhere, because the melodic treatment was very straightforward; any variations or personalizations there besides the genre adaptation would help this stand apart more from the original, though the other aspects of arrangement did put this well in the right direction. Good stuff so far, Michael; if this doesn't make it as is, definitely don't be discouraged, as this has great potential. I'd love this on OCR in some form.

NO (resubmit)

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The strings, choir and guitar lead mush together a little too much in the opening bars, and the tone isn't that pleasing. The main theme afterwards is very solid. Most sequenced parts are very mechanical, although a lead synth takes the place of the strings which makes this rigid sequencing more acceptable. The guitar works well, with some tight chugging. The build up from 1:45 does get a bit full at times and is somewhat cloudy. Things close out relatively quickly after this point with layers added until we're presented with an abrupt ending (which I found a bit disappointing). The arrangement wasn't overly varied but I thought it was decent enough given the length.

I'm not as concerned about the compression use here - I was expecting to hear a lot of issues with the compressor clamping down hard but I didn't really feel like there was a point where it truly broke the track. Normally hearing wavering cymbals would be a dead giveaway but that wasn't really present here, and the snare and bass were relatively easy to hear through most of the mix. I do agree overall however that more clarity would benefit the track and it would benefit from less compression to remove that subtle pump. I also thing further use of wider panning and EQ tweaks on some backing parts would be beneficial in keeping things separated. This one was close for me.

NO

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