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Akira Yamaoka – “Silent Hill Homecoming OST” Review

Two soundtracks in the same year, Akira Yamaoka has been busy with the Silent Hill series, and this is the sixth in it. Each soundtrack has bought something new. The original gave us the noise, the second gave us melodies, the third vocal pieces and beats, the fourth purposefully poor production and discordant chords and zero swirling ambience. This time around the shift isn’t so noticeable but in a word, Silent Hill Homecoming is about sound loops.

However the soundtrack opens with “One More Soul to the Call”, the biggest rock anthem that has been a mainstay during the series and is once again performed excellently by Mary Elizabeth McGlynn. This takes the traditional Silent Hill theme chords and gives it a stick of TNT, lights it and runs for cover. It’s an uplifting and reassuring opener.

“Witchcraft” follows with its downplayed cold ambience and piano led melody. It’s suitably depressing and macabre even when the electronic percussion joins in and sets you in for another eerie jaunt.

“Mr Joy” is ominous and eluding at the same time. It’s the bass drum that constantly thuds along with the atonal backing that makes the rapping and main tune all the more unsettling. “Cold Blood”, along with the previous two remind me very much of the ambient/beat tracks from Silent Hill 2. The rising piano and the backing keyboards are really lifted up when the drums come in and takes the track to another level. “The Terminal Show” continues with the same damp mood with piano, keyboard and drum loops. They are minimal but very effective.

McGlynn is back for “Elle Theme”. This song is not rock at all and is more empty and sparse. It’s like taking the previous songs and arranging them into a vocal piece. The vocals are excellent and the layering effect on all Mary’s songs works perfectly – and the chorus is infectious.

“4 Pattern” is the first real noise piece on the soundtrack. Coupled with the initial bass drum, its nice to hear that general ambience pieces haven’t completely disappeared as its what Silent Hill has always been about. “Snow Flower” is a beautiful track in many ways with its reversed sounds over heavy percussion. Its also very bleak but there’s a certain innocence to it too. “Attitude #70” returns to the more abstract noise effects which continue to be a breath of fresh air and build up for “Regards” where percussion joins in along with bent radio samples for the best use of the abstract noises on the soundtrack.

“Total Invasion” is a tense track even if it doesn’t freak out. It’s percussion is heavy in the mix so the keyboard loops always sound like they are about to stop being nice and go run riot. “The Real Love” has plenty of discordant samples and loops playing around for an interesting piece as it builds up to its climax leaving “Voodoo Girl” to charm you with its weird drum samples which sound like the life’s been sucked out of them. It also sounds like a heartbeat gone wrong and that makes the track all the better.

“Living in Fear” is a stand out track for me as its one of the few that goes for it with its beats and detuned bass line. “Dreams of Leaving” too is a harsh track with all kinds of minor notes and chords for the ultimate strange/depressed effect and its also a track that never sits still with its arrangement.

“Who Knows” is all about the drums and piano inside echoes which back up a sample of woodwind and brass that is constantly repeated. This is the soundtracks “Wounded Warsong”, a song that repeats and just gets more intense the more you listen. It’s a sure-fire stand out.

“Slave 2 Death” is sparse but heavy with echoes and random notes being looped around which is still effective. “The Thing” interestingly has an almost 90’s pop track drum beat that sounds like its being played through a radio at the beginning. The track gradually builds on itself to provide the most slinky and hypnotic song on the soundtrack. “Dead Monks” rounds off the instrumental tracks in eerie fashion with high scat singing wrapped around some old skool Silent Hill ambient noises. It’s a crisp end.

Mary rejoins for “This Sacred Line”, the second and in my opinion stronger of the two rock vocal songs. This is because the chords are new and there’s a good build up to the rip roaring chorus and the guitar solo. The soundtrack closes with “Alex Theme” which is like Elle Theme in that is minimal – just beats, keyboards and lots of layered vocals. This song shows off Mary’s ability to completely own and carry off a song by herself and is possibly my favourite vocal piece since SH4.

After the slightly safe and not so eerie “Silent Hill Zero” soundtrack, this is absolutely a return to form. The vocal songs are fantastic, its great to hear some noise fests back in the mix and the general mood and simplicity all works. Another excellent soundtrack to the series which never falls below par and delivers.

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