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Peter Connelly – Tomb Raider: The Dark Angel Symphony Review

Breathing new life into old Tomb Raider themes.

Sounds like…

A lush orchestration of some of your favourite early Tomb Raider themes from the 90’s and early 2000’s.

The review

I have long loved the Tomb Raider series for many things and one of those key elements was the music. That original theme has long stuck in my head and as I still have the original games on PlayStation 1, I can pop the games in and enjoy the music as RedBook Audios. Peter Connelly scored the music for The Last Revelation, Chronicles and Angel of Darkness (4, 5 and 6 if we’re being lazy) as the series crossed over from PS1 to PS2. Following a long kickstarter process, key themes are given the full orchestra treatment with ‘The Dark Angel Symphony’.

The collection features 38 tracks from the three games and it runs in chronological order. It also kicks off with one of its starring moments, a reworked version of ‘The Last Revelation’ with Tina Guo guest performing. Her prowess and serenity balance out the huge chord sweeps of the main melody and its a lovely rendition. Aside from some remixes at the end of the album, this is really the only huge diversion from the original material. That can be viewed either as a positive or a negative but I personally felt that hearing all these songs in thick, luscious orchestrations was more than enough to keep me entertained.

Peter Connelly

Each soundtrack has its own feel too. ‘The Last Revelation’ is heavy on the Marimba and campy string stabs. This makes big bold tracks like ‘Jeep Thrills’ a delight to enjoy whilst ‘Remember the Amulet’ basks in new choir embellishments that thicken the melody to make each note feel planted. When we move onto ‘Chronicles’ we get the inclusion of jazzy guitars and an increase of brass. This game’s soundtrack didn’t gel with me originally as much as the previous releases and the same applies here. It is lovely to hear the jazzy orchestrations in full flow and the battle themes are strong. ‘The Guardian of Semerkhet’ is a particularly excellent arrangement as it showcases the complexity you would probably not have initially realised was there on paper. The closing track on the album is a vocal rendition of ‘She Will Live on Forever in our Hearts’ which evokes a suave lounge jazz theme way before Metal Gear Solid was Snake Eating. Peter Connelly has done a lot of sewing together of arrangements here as the original soundtrack was full of lots of smaller themes. Here, they are often woven together to create one full track.

By the time we hit ‘Angel of Darkness’, compositions are more intricate and freeflowing. Tomb Raider often makes me feel like the video game equivalent of a James Bond film. It is here where the drama and overwrought nature of some of the swells really shine and make that Bond connection. For instance, ‘The Angel of Darkness’ transitions from intrigue to action to quiet beauty effortlessly. It is the best rearrangement of the original theme to date. This section focuses a little heavily on action tracks which means that the renditions can feel overly chaotic so I find I enjoy the tracks individually over being a set.

Peter Connelly has worked wonders with the scope he had. As an added bonus, he has also gone back to the original files for the games and remastered them too. They are available separately or as a collection of four releases. I have to say, when playing the remastered versions, I was instantly transported back to how pure the melodies had to be in that era. For lovers of PS1/PS2 music that was MIDI-based, you’ll thoroughly enjoy these cleaner, more realistic MIDI samples. The only downside I can possibly give is that Nathan McCree composed the first three games and so obviously they are not included in this collection

Whilst this collection is very much ‘for the fans’, Peter Connelly and the team have worked wonders recreating subtle arrangements of the original soundtracks. The orchestrations are like a bold action adventure movie from 1997 and the remastered soundtracks are PS1 video game music heaven. This is thoroughly recommended. I wish that the same treatment could be given to the first three games too.

Recommended track: The Angel of Darkness

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Peter Connelly - The Dark Angel Symphony



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