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Normand Corbeil – Heavy Rain OST Review

Heavy Rain, a game which polarises most gamers, is more an emotional interactive film experience than a gameplay game and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. This editor/blogger/internet nutter/enthusast for all things absoultely loved it. One of the things that really stood out to me was the evocative score that was composed by Normand Corbeil who then had it released as part of the special edition package of the game and now since as a standalone purchase. Equal parts understated and epic, the score is stunning and compulsive, especially if you’ve played the game as you’ll instantly be taken back to particular moments in the game.

Opening with “Ethan Mars’ Main Theme”, the score opens with a thick and heavy melody that parades itself like a hearse driving to the final burial. It’s slow reworking on the same phrase in different moods and levels of underlying despair is quite inspired as the strings effortlessly sweep into a blur of sound over your speakers. “Norman Jayden’s Main Theme” is more ominous with tense strings and a cold brass overture giving off a mementous if not entirely settled feel. The discordant piano feels more ambient horror. If anything, the track is full of burden in the way how everything feels very grand in scale and yet is played softly and deep throughout most of the filmic piece.

“Before the Storm” is a beautifully haunting piece. The use of solomn piano melodies in this score get against simple string arrangements is what makes it stand out for me. This has definate transitions from the string sections to the more tense harp arpeggios and tremblo string parts. It all comes together for a big round up finale. Similarly “Madison Paige’s Main Theme” is more delicate although no less foreboding. The score is quite underplayed most of the time but the rousing middle section of this movement particular had me effected. Much more like a film score than a game one, even by today’s score standards.

“Scott Shelby’s Main Theme” is the first with a percussive element to it and that makes it more processional and more authorative. It’s also a lot more brash and outspoken compared to the others reflective the character’s line of work. It moves through many different transitions but never really feels welcoming strangely and along with Jayden’s is very darkly mysterious and ambiguous. “Lauren Winter’s Main Theme” is possibly the warmest of all the themes with a harp mapping out the string movement with woodwind overtones, its about as close to a home theme as you’ll get on this soundtrack, although its more gratious and of a mourning than actually being welcome.

“Painful Memories” is one of my favourites, a short piano driven track that is as simple as it is stunningly effective. All the minors in it make it feel despairing, quizzical, mysterious and strangely majestical and enticing all at the same time. That shifts quickly to the all action “The Chase” which is full of orchestral bursts and lots of swirling percussion. The rising strings really pump the adreneline. “Redemption” returns to the dark despair of the earlier tracks with a thickly layered string piece which is very understated and comes across as a lament. A real grower.

“The Bulldozer” is a track of epic scale with the whole orchestra getting in on the act in the battle track it has fantastic tension and urgency without breaking out into a frenzy and could be used in any action sequence easily. There is a passage at the end that reminds me so much of the big climax to The Tower Inferno, its uncanny. “High Tension” does exactly what it says on the tin using its timpani’s to great effect and the brass really get the centre of attention here. “The Fight” continues this action segment with another powerhouse of how-to-make-a-dramatic-track-lesson-1 track, although it doesn’t catch me as quickly as some of the others here. “The Hold Up” is like a sibling of the previous track, the same structure and devices are used and so it feels like a natural continuation of the same song but more of everything thrown in. “Looking for Shaun” is more of the same but sped up and with more brass lunges than before “Countdown” finishes off the action section with more of the same without soundin like its treading over old ground. The wind section here gives it a slightly more eerier sound in places.

The closing track is “Last Breath” which is an absolute emotional rollercoaster. The echoing piano tinkering away on the high keys slowly joined by eerie strings juxtapose beauty and scary in one as the track frays into ambient auras and then returns to a heart wrenching subdued piano again for the close.

The soundtrack for Heavy Rain, regardless of what your opinion of the game is, is fantastic. While it helps (as with most soundtracks) to have played the game first, some of my musical friends adore the piano side of the score as standalone tracks (not realising they’re from a game). Normand has made a delicately grand score to a great game and I recommend both to everyone.

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