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*NO* Castlevania 2 "For Blood Is Eternity"

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Hi dear judges, here's a new one for you -- I might send a few since it's been a while! :)


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  • Name of game(s) arranged: Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (NES)
  • Name of arrangement: For Blood is Eternity
  • Name of individual song(s) arranged: Bloody Tears
    • Comments: This remix was produced for Halloween 2019 during the Pixel Mixers monthly contest. As it may have surprised no one, I love Castlevania, but I never took the time to arrange some of the more iconic themes from the early games, and especially Bloody Tears, which was already covered by everyone and their mother. Orchestral arrangements of this piece already exist here and there, and I wanted to make something more original. I decided to slow it down to be able to bring every out every little detail you can hear. I focused on trying to create an epic and somewhat sad atmosphere which feats the narrative of the game: Simon Belmont, now cursed after defeating Dracula, has to resurrect his worst enemy to lift the deadly spell. That kind of plot is inspiring and trying to bring it out through music is more than a challenge. Hopefully a challenge listeners will enjoy.
Hope this is all good :) Have a nice weekend!

Edited by Rexy
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  • Liontamer changed the title to 2020/02/15 - Castlevania II "For Blood Is Eternity"

Soundscape was cluttered, which really stuck out as the track built at :24 and :36 with more parts adding in.

Yeah, I'm not sure what's going on, but :48 when the melody came in, the lack of clarity here was just jumping off the page. The timing of the parts also felt somewhat robotic/rigid, but it's serviceable and works more with a Gothic-inspired style like this.

The abrupt volume drop at 1:48 was jarring and made no sense. I like that you're trying to have dynamic contrast there, but you need to even out the levels some; the loudest parts need to be pulled back, and this quiet section should be a little bit louder.

Nice arrangement stuff at 2:00 (though again, the rise in volume was abrupt); I liked the role of the vox supporting this, as well as the genteel piano afterward at 2:24, with a nice transition back to the organ at 2:35. Even if the levels need to be adjusted, I was digging your dynamic contrast ideas, Alex.

Track became flooded again at 3:00, and then just a ball of mud at 3:12. 3:24 went to the verse again and aspired to get more intense for the finish, but the mixing was just a wall of mud until the close with the solo piano at 3:48.

Oof. Really didn't like the final grandiose section at 4:00; really stiff timing that exposed the samples. The drums had a weird sound to them as well. It just didn't sound like something you'd hear from live instruments. I think you could end the track with the quiet piano and it would sound like a satisfying resolution.

I apologize for not being able to articulate my issues better, but I'm sure the musician Js can hone in on what you need to do. Others may make a case that the timing was too rigid, and it's a valid point, but I think the overall sample quality and tone of things was reasonably good enough.

Drastically clean up the soundscape, and make sure the volume doesn't jump up and down as drastically, and this would be solid. IMO, you don't need to touch the arrangement.

NO (resubmit)

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  • Liontamer changed the title to 2020/02/15 - (1N) Castlevania 2 "For Blood Is Eternity"

Initially, soundscape builds up nicely over the first minute. The quieter piano section at 2:00 was a nice change in tone, though the transition to it was a little odd. The section leading up to and beyond 3:24 does seem too crowded for your master bus, with a bit of crunch coming through. I can see what Larry is raising here - there are a lot of layers that build on top of each other over time which is dropping overall clarity. Levels should be eased off a bit in the busy sections to let the track breathe more, perhaps even consider dropping some layers if they're unneeded. The arrangement otherwise progresses ok. I think this really needs another mixing pass to clean up your levels a bit, but it's not that far off.


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You're not wrong with "Bloody Tears" getting various approaches, so I can understand why you went for a more subdued direction.  Echoing what Larry and Jive had already said, the arrangement structure checks out - three textural variations, with the bookends at full strength and the middle one at 2:00 taking a quieter direction.  Despite the stiff timings across your parts, the choices of velocities and articulations are solid, though I would've wanted the string lead at 0:47 to have a faster attack so it could cut through the mix more.

The mixdown also leaves much to be desired.  While I appreciate the idea of dynamic contrast, it's an issue when the louder parts hit the limiter's... well, limit - partially forming a sausage at the bookends.  And then there's the softer part from 1:48, and as Larry pointed out, that section is quieter than it needs to be.  A quieter mixdown with less limiter hugging would harm the middle section more - so it'll make more sense to go over the layers, and see if any could get removed so other parts can push through.  Only then can you consider the idea of master automation to bring the dynamics that pinch closer together.

It's not a bad effort, Alex, and I'm in favor of your arrangement ideas.  The orchestration isn't a dealbreaker, but the squashed mixing is.  It'll be nice to hear another version with a mixing and mastering revision.

NO (resubmit)

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  • Rexy changed the title to *NO* Castlevania 2 "For Blood Is Eternity"
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