Sound — 8
Right off the bat, the soundtrack to 2008's Alone In The Dark (fifth in Atari's video game series) introduces to the hellish world of the game, but with a bit of a twist. This soundtrack, rather than being especially creepy or ambient (as compared to Deriviere's past work with the ObsCure series), the music here is very epic, drawing from the talents of the Grammy-winning Mystery of Bulgarian Voices Choir. Amazingly, the choir is the only live part of this whole soundtrack, with the music being entirely scored by computer and recorded with digitally sampled instruments. The finished project is still a powerful and driving masterpiece. Opening with "Prelude To An End", the Choir introduces the music with a haunting melody which forms the backbone for the rest of the album. From there, the structure builds on itself, bringing in light bells before adding a string orchestra and then creating an epic adrenaline rush with various horn sections. "Prelude... " continues into the main theme, "Edward Carnby", where the percussion really becomes the engine of the piece. Pulsing bass and fast-paced rim shots make for a very intense listen. For an instrumental album, there is great work done in exploring different emotions, from the heroism of "Who Am I?" to the tear-bringing lamentations of "Crying New York" and "The Choice", the super-sleuth interlude of "Central Dark" and the down-right creepiness of "The Humanz" and "The Fissure" (where the inhumanly deep horn lines just make your skin crawl). The closer, "End For A Prelude" is just plain epic, extending the themes of "Shto Li" and "Edward Carnby" into an incredible closer that picks up everything you've heard already and powers it through to the end.
Lyrics — 9
Being as the lyrics are entirely in Bulgarian, the lyrics are a bit of an enigma. The voices, however, are beautiful and evocative, with tone and timbre that fits the mood of each song they take part it (some pieces are entirely instrumental). The only translated lyrics I've been able to get my hands on are those of "Who Am I?" which is an astoundingly profound piece of poetry which fits the music wonderfully. The desperation and cadence of the music is set perfectly with the lyrics, and the punctuated chants of "Kato v san neprobuden" ("As if from a deep slumber") masterfully parallel Edward's character waking into the nightmare realm of a hellish New York City.
Overall Impression — 9
Easily one of the best video game soundtracks of 2008, Alone In The Dark, rather than coupling a scary game with a creepy soundtrack, breaks the mold of similar titles ("F.E.A.R.", "ObsCure", "Dead Space") by approaching a nightmare world with an adrenaline-fueled, courageous blend of orchestra and choral voices. For an expert ghost hunter like Edward Carnby, this is exactly what the soundtrack to one of his adventures should sound like.