Motoi Sakuraba
Dark Souls Soundtrack


3.5
great

Review

by CaliggyJack USER (87 Reviews)
March 14th, 2019 | 55 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The dark abyss, by Motoi Sakuraba.

Motoi Sakuraba is a well known name in the Japanese Game Industry. The man has one of the largest compositions list in video games. The man has composed music from well known series like Tales of..., Star Ocean, Valkyrie Profile, and even the Super Smash Bros. series. The man get's around. Of course, in the year of our lord 2019, Sakuraba's main claim to fame is his work in the highly acclaimed soundtrack for Dark Souls. It isn't hard to see why, the original Dark Souls contains a myriad of ambient works that both amplify and mimic the dark gothic atmosphere of the game itself. Unlike most games, Dark Souls does not have a continuously playing soundtrack. Instead, songs play at certain specific moments in the game, from bosses to cutscenes, and even areas themselves.

When trying to portray the fierceness of the bosses within the game, Sakuraba pulls out all the stops. Taurus Demon uses a cacophony of operatic moaning as violin's and trumpets blast with earnest speed in order to signify danger. These same techniques are replicated in Bell Gargoyle but are done at a much slower pace along with significant overdubbing. Like the soundtrack to FromSoftware's previous RPG Demon's Souls, the songs within the Dark Souls soundtrack utilize a heavy array of operatic moaning that is broken up in pieces to maintain an almost ritualistic atmosphere.

Of course that was Sakuraba's mistake when composing the soundtrack to this game. In an effort to mimic the intensity and horror of Demon's Souls, he failed to both accurately replicate the past soundtrack and build a unique soundtrack all on his own. That isn't to say there aren't tracks that set themselves apart from it's predecessors. Pinwheel uses a slow violin and flute with meshed organs to build a sense of dread in the listener. Gwynevere, Princess of Sunlight uses a beautiful crescendo with a fantastic organ piece and Ornstein and Smough mixes multiple instruments together to build a universal sound through meshing. Then there are forgettable tracks like Ceaseless Discharge and Centipede Demon two tracks that use the same broken operatic moaning and trumpet playing that numerous tracks have already done and better. Dark Sun Gwyndolin has a beautiful pace but also feels eerily similar to "Fool's Idol" from Demon's Souls. The worst offender is Overture a track that attempts to build an epic, grandiose composition only to falter by using the same techniques as those found in Ornstein and Smough but faster.

Sakuraba's biggest strength lies in his ability to portray emotion within his music. By far one of the best tracks within the soundtrack is Dark Souls a slow building song that has dense percussion and a slow building opera that then evolves into a full-blown chorus, only to fade back again. Tracks like Knight Artorias and Gwyn, Lord of Cinder use slow but simple piano and opera pieces to build an emotional template for the characters used in the tracks themselves. The best track, of course, goes to the brilliant Firelink Shrine. The track uses a continuous violin with a soft piano tapping that is then amplified by a harp that pops in an out at random intervals.

The soundtrack to Dark Souls is both a beautiful testament to the talent and creativity of Motoi Sakuraba, and an unfortunate case of attempting to replicate something that cannot be replicated. When Sakuraba is attempting to mimic popular aspects of the Demon's Souls soundtrack, he falters. However, when Motoi is building his own atmosphere; that is when the album shines. The soundtrack to Dark Souls is both beautiful and dreary, a symbol of death encroaching on all that once was beautiful and serene. From bells to harps to violins; the album plays almost like funeral music. As if we are witnessing the burial of something precious, unable to comprehend the beauty of our dearly departed until they were dead.



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3.9
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Comments:Add a Comment 
DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
March 14th 2019


15648 Comments


Good review, bud, pos. I love the souls games and their soundtracks, but I’ve never actually sat down and listened to one on its own.

Digging: Chelsea Wolfe - Birth of Violence

CaliggyJack
March 14th 2019


2832 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sakuraba released all three albums for streaming on Google Play Music. If you got 10$ I do recommend listening to em.

SteakByrnes
March 14th 2019


15729 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

One of my favorite OSTs ever

Digging: Speech Patterns - Without a Sound

CaliggyJack
March 14th 2019


2832 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

YOU DIED

WatchItExplode
March 14th 2019


7098 Comments


Been feeling an urge to do a DS1 run through lately. Maybe this weekend.

CaliggyJack
March 14th 2019


2832 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I always keep the trilogy downloaded in case I get the sudden urge to play. And that happens a lot lol

TheNotrap
March 14th 2019


11819 Comments


Nice review.

I lost track of video games since Pac-Man.

Digging: Vitriol (USA) - To Bathe From the Throat of Cowardice

samwise2000
March 14th 2019


539 Comments


All of the soulsborne games have spectacular soundtracks, hyped for Sekiro

Zig
March 14th 2019


1850 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Love this game!

Digging: Jordi Savall - Les Voix Humaines

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
March 14th 2019


16651 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Props for reviewing this!



Best. Game. Ever.

Digging: Kayo Dot - Blasphemy

zaruyache
March 14th 2019


21309 Comments


sekiro hype

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
March 14th 2019


16651 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The fact that Sekiro doesn't have customization or online is a bit disappointing but anyway, it's gonna be great.

WatchItExplode
March 14th 2019


7098 Comments


But it did allow them to refine the gameplay experience they wanted the player to have.

CaliggyJack
March 14th 2019


2832 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The issue I suppose was everybody expected Sekiro to be the next-evolution in the SoulsBorne series, but in fact it's just a reimagining of Tenchu.

zaruyache
March 14th 2019


21309 Comments


no everything gotta have the level of RPG depth as dark souls. It has spider-man grappling hooks and actual stealth, which will hopefully be rly great. Lack of stealthing in dark souls always kinda bugged me.

WatchItExplode
March 14th 2019


7098 Comments


I've been suffering from some serious Souls' fatigue over the past few years and still am to some extent. I feel like the whole genre needs a sabbatical.

CaliggyJack
March 14th 2019


2832 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Really I can't get enough of it.



I've played through DeS, DS, DS2, DS3, BB, Nioh, LotS, Surge, SINNER, and even Death's Gambit. And I can still not get enough.

0xME
March 14th 2019


445 Comments


How can you reference his other works and not include his masterpiece (Golden Sun OST)
jk, good review!

Digging: Amenra - Mass VI

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
March 14th 2019


16651 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I'm gonna miss invasions and crazy builds but don't get me wrong, Sekiro is gonna be GOTY.

CaliggyJack
March 15th 2019


2832 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nah mate DMC5 has already won goty ain't no game goin top that shit.



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