Tomorrow sees the release of Konami’s eighth entry into the Silent Hill series, Silent Hill: Downpour. For the past seven entries, fans have enjoyed the terrifying tones of Akira Yamaoka. However, the shock that everyone felt when it was announced that he would not be returning to compose this entry was felt far and wide. Upon the announcement that Dexter composer Daniel Licht was stepping in, there was a tentative sigh of release. After all, here was a man who had worked in horror for years, tackling Hellraiser, Children of the Corn, and many other beloved entries. But does the Silent Hill: Downpour OST do this series justice, especially after everything that Yamaoka has done?
Disclosure: My love of Silent Hill knows no bounds. Seriously, it’s kinda insane. Aside from the play novel and the Japanese-exclusive mobile games, I’ve played every single Silent Hill title out there. So know that this review comes from someone who has devoted a hell of a lot of time to the series and the music.
Alright, I’m going to state for the record that, from the very beginning, I believed in Daniel Licht. It’s like when Heath Ledger was announced as the Joker. A ton of people scoffed but I trusted in Christopher Nolan and believed in his vision. Same thing here. That feeling also might’ve been due in part to my belief that Yamaoka had been doing this long enough and that a new voice could very well be a good thing.
Licht comes at this soundtrack with a much more cinematic feel than Yamaoka ever did. The tracks each feel like they are aimed at telling the story of a specific scene rather than be the identifying music of a location. Even the track names lend credence to this idea, with examples such as Railcar Ride, Basement Fight, or Bus To Nowhere.
Licht has also created a more organic form of creepiness with the Downpour OST. Sure, there are still incredibly eerie and atmospheric industrial tones that shriek and moan, almost as though an abandoned factory came to life. But there are also a great deal of stringed instruments and percussion that lend a rich, natural, and perhaps most importantly, organic depth.
An element that is supposed to be incredibly important in Downpour is that of rain and water. Therefore, this album should be able to reflect those feelings and that imagery, right? Well, it does just that. Something about this album makes me feel like it will be the perfect accompaniment to a thunderstorm, the sound of rain pattering against my window, thunder rumbling in the distance.
Perhaps my only complaint about this soundtrack is that it doesn’t pull at my heart as much as the Silent Hill 2 OST did or terrify me as much as the Silent Hill 1 OST. But let’s be realistic here, shall we? The Silent Hill 1 OST was basically a track of ambient noise with very little in the way of melody. And as for Silent Hill 2? I just have so many memories associated with that title that Licht was never going to be able to measure up to my nostalgia. Nor did I expect him to.
The Final Word: Licht has created a soundtrack that is definitely Silent Hill in tone and yet undeniably different than the works of Yamaoka. With nods to all the elements that make a Silent Hill soundtrack memorable, Licht has proven he has everything that it takes to create an immersive aural experience that us survival horror fans so lovingly crave with the Silent Hill: Downpour OST.
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