Akira Yamaoka
Silent Hill


5.0
classic

Review

by classic gemini USER (8 Reviews)
March 4th, 2017 | 25 replies


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: 3D sounds and a true otherworldly experience...

The year: 1999. the game: ‘Silent Hill’ for PS1. shitpants all across the globe hail it as a game-changer and to this day, almost 20 years later, a pioneer and a genre defining masterpiece. So, what makes the game work so god damn well? But more specifically, what makes main composer AND main sound designer (that’s a key aspect, don’t forget it) Akira Yamaoka’s music work so in-sync with the game? So much so that it’s practically impossible to talk about Silent Hill without talking about its music?

Well, two aspects come to mind:

First, the completely alien and experimental nature of the instrumentation. It is not only varied in textures, with all kinds of synths, ranging from soothing to piercing, and a wide and very well crafted range of percussion and samples (Yamaoka is a sampling genius, able to make hellish abhorrences from the most banal of sound snipets), but because of its focus on sensorial assault and abrassive nature, taking the player to borderline physical pain, takes itself a step above anything any other videogame soundtrack had ever tried to pull off before.

Second, it’s the spacial depth and environmental coherence this soundtrack so spontaneously masters.

Do you get that feeling sometimes, when you are listening to music, that the sounds coming out from the speakers aren’t actually coming out from the speakers? Like they are coming from somewhere else, a different place? And I don’t mean a different place in your house, dummy, I mean a different place in spacetime.

I know it sounds weird, but I’m also sure that’s happened before to some of you. That feeling is actually related to sonic depth perception. it’s music that constructs a 3D space. The fact that this is acomplished with few easy tricks as simple as volumen up/volumen down or that most tracks have stacked up layers of synths that give them that depth doesn’t for a second diminish its potency. It’s the key difference between the music being there and YOU being there. It not only sounds, but it MOVES. And, in Silent Hill, it also FOLLOWS. It’s the main difference between an experience that takes place behind a screen and one that engulfes you.

But this wouldn’t mean shit without the enviromental coherence. What I mean by this is the thing that’s made SH such a cornerstone, such a god damn classic. In Silent Hill, the true enemy isn’t the monsters. It’s not Dhalia or The Cult or even their ‘God’. The real enemy is the town itself, the single most evil entity in the game, and no one gets that more than Yamaoka.

That’s why it’s important to note that the man is not only the composer of the soundtrack, but also the main sound designer, because soundtrack in Silent Hill has an enphasis on SOUND. From the quieter and spacier synths of the fog world, to the lurkier and menacing ambient noises of the dark world and the full-on agression of the clanking pipes and persecutory percussion of the otherworld, it always feels like these sounds are comming from the town itself, that IT is producing them as it creeks and moans like a huge, formless monstrosity,always watching, always following, and that is absolutely terrifying. And absolutely genius.

That is also way many people don’t bring up this OST as much when discussing which one is the best one: The more emotional SH2? The more rock-oriented SH3? The more ambient and subtle SH4? The others that no one cares about? I think this happens because, in the way of actual ‘songs’, SH1 has very few ones. Yea the title track is probably the best opening track of the series, and songs like ‘Not Tomorrow’ and ‘Tears of…’ are good enough, but overall it’s probably the one soundtrack that it’s more inseparable from the actual act of playing the game. The sound of Harry’s footsteps on rusted metal, the dogs barking in the distance and the radio going nuts are all as much ‘soundtrack’ as the actual tracks themselves.

But because of its sheer physicality and its capacity to not only be a sonic representation of the horrors of Silent Hill, but actually be a key aspect in creating the virtual space the player needs to be fully immersed in the experience is that I still believe it to be the best one in the series and one of the best soundtracks ever, not only in videogames, but in any form of audio-visual entertainment.



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4.2
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A masterpiece used for its purpose, a little mundane left on its own....


Comments:Add a Comment 
rabidfish
March 4th 2017


5585 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Ok so I dunno if this counts as a 'review' per se... I view more like a think piece of sorts.



Anyways, I highly recommend anyone who hasn't played the game that go and play it. It's a masterpiece in more ways than one.



Also, if you can, get the Complete soundtrack version of this, it has more tracks and it's in sequence order, so it resembles how one would listen to the tracks as one plays the game. The oficial Konami release leaves pretty much to be desired.

Digging: Rooga - Back Da Fuck Up

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
March 4th 2017


17256 Comments


The most terrifying game of all times and a hell of a sountrack. Nice review rabid.

Digging: Common Holly - When I say to you Black Lightning

literallyzach
March 4th 2017


518 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Oh damn, I'm literally listening to the second game's soundtrack right now. Yamaoka slays, every one of his albums is immaculate. Sweet review

TheSpaceMan
March 4th 2017


12425 Comments


RE 1 >

rabidfish
March 4th 2017


5585 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Nah bro

TheSpaceMan
March 4th 2017


12425 Comments


Haha just poking the hornets nest, both great games

TheSpaceMan
March 4th 2017


12425 Comments


Silent Hill owes a lot to RE tho no doubt

rabidfish
March 4th 2017


5585 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

In what ways?



Truly asking here, I don't see much that connects both games except maybe health management?

TheSpaceMan
March 4th 2017


12425 Comments


That sorta game didn't exist before RE, silent hill built upon what it did 2 years prior

rabidfish
March 4th 2017


5585 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

well yea, of course, SH is basically a response to RE, but beyond that.

TheSpaceMan
March 4th 2017


12425 Comments


lol how can you say "but beyond that" if it's a complete response to it. It's entire existence is bc of RE

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
March 4th 2017


17256 Comments


Silent Hill is pretty different to Resident Evil. Gameplay, theme, etc. Silent Hill was waaay more scary.

rabidfish
March 4th 2017


5585 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yea, beyond being a predecesor... I mean, they are completely different games, so I thought you sugested there were more similiarities between the 2. Sorry if I misinterpreted.

FadedSun
March 4th 2017


2137 Comments


I prefer the Silent Hill 2 soundtrack for overall listening, but this OST is definitely more terrifying.

ConcubinaryCode
March 4th 2017


4947 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I used to listen to my heaven at night in my town when it was empty and it was pretty terrifying in its own right.



rabidfish
March 4th 2017


5585 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yea, foggy days in small towns are fucking terrifying after SH... As if small towns didn't suck enough.

TheSpaceMan
March 4th 2017


12425 Comments


No worries I didn't mean to come off in a negative way (: I agree Silent Hill is scarier

Zig
March 4th 2017


1893 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This soundtrack is amazing, although don't like the track She. Btw, the game is a classic.

Digging: Gustav Holst - The Planets, Op. 32

Gyromania
March 4th 2017


29104 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Actually don't care much for these silent Hill albums, except for silent Hill 2 which is a masterpiece

ConcubinaryCode
March 4th 2017


4947 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I actually think the silent hill 4 soundtrack is the best one. Homecoming is the worst.



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