Following the commercial and critical success of Devil May Cry, Capcom decided to commemorate the music for the game in a novel way. The Devil May Cry Sound DVD Book - The Sacred Heart contains a region 2 DVD featuring 22 full-length audio tracks set to a video that tells the story of the game. It was also accompanied by 48 page booklet with illustrations and liner notes. To my knowledge, this is the first visual soundtrack ever released for a video game and it inspired similar releases for the subsequent two games in the series. It wasn't until two years later than the soundtrack was subject to a complete conventional album release. Does this selection do the game and its music justice?
The DVD opens with Sparda's theme "Devil Sunday". In a pleasant surprise, it's actually the impressively intricate organ-based "Cathedral" theme, not the short opening theme. The video features occasional lines of text documenting the story of Sparda in English language and gothic font. It initially shows Dante plays with his swords and guns and later features scenes exploring the castle from the game, adding to the epic feel of the music and text. "Public Enemy" takes the DVD straight to the heart of the action with a mixture of hard electric guitar rhythms and dazzling electronic melodies. The video of this one is especially enjoyable since it introduces early enemies like Marionettes, Sin Scissors, and Beelzebubs in conjunction with scenes of action in the locations they're introduced. More formidable enemies like Shadow and Death Scissors are introduced in conjunction with the wild and menacing synth glissandi of "Psycho Siren". It isn't until the sixth track — the timeless classic "Lock & Load" — that later enemies such as Blades and Fetishes are introduced.
A lot of the remainder of the DVD is dedicated to documenting the various enemy encounters of the game. The grungy riffs and unpredictable breakbeats of Phantom's "Red-Hot Juice" fit with the elaborately edited video. The use of text and images in Nelo Angelo's "Ultra Violet" is particularly powerful. The music is great too, fusing organ passages, choir interludes, techno beats, and gritty bass in an energetic and catchy way. The portrayal of Griffon dazzles with a mixture of gliding synth, pink rays, and flashing lights, though is seriously not recommended for epileptics. One of the few stage themes to make it, "Karnival" is presented with the dark images of Dante's return to the castle. It incorporates a mixture of 'tribal meets militaristic' percussion, high-pitched marcato strings, and horror sound and voice effects are incorporated. It leads effectively into the encounter with Nightmare, underscored by repeating rock-techno motifs interspersed with occasional synth frills and eerie underworld chants. Surreal videos subsequently accompany the tribal-influenced underworld themes "Evil Vacuum" and "Anarchy in the U.W" as the story approaches its climax.
Reflective videos accompany the soft melody presented on piano and music box in "Eva's Theme" and "Pillow Talk". These themes will be very emotional for those who were endeared by the personal side of the game's storyline. The culmination of the DVD is the final battle theme "Legendary Battle". The music recapitulates the gothic main theme in combination with furious electronic beats, distorted rock, and underworld cries. The video focuses on presenting Mundus as the ultimate foe, but eventually shows him being defeated by Dante. The DVD surprisingly documents the somewhat trivial escape from the underworld with three relatively short themes. The staff roll theme "Seeds of Love" features an elated instrumental rock piece and a vocal arrangement of "Trish's Theme" accompanied by a video projection of preceding events. Though they feel superfluous in their audio and visual presentation, the technofied Sparda battle themes "Super Public Enemy" and "S" are featured as bonus tracks. Finally, Dante's battle theme from Devil May Cry 2 accompanies a preview of the action from the then-upcoming game. It's difficult to tell that the game would end up sucking. Capcom likes its surprises!
As a hardcore fan of both Devil May Cry and its soundtrack, it was delightful to see its music presented in such a novel form and to relive the experience of the game with tastefully done videos. Given the soundtrack contains quite a lot of event themes and experimental material, there was definite demand for a 'best of' alternative. This release in many ways provides this by including some of the best action and emotional themes in the score. However, the bias towards the ending and bonus themes at the sacrifice of some of the wonderful stage themes means the compilation isn't as wholesome as it could have been. The videos are supplementary to the music but often nice to watch along to and basically well done. Overall, a pleasant collector's item for fans of the game or a solid 'best of' compilation for casual fans of the series' music. If you're able to handle region 2 DVDs, this is a satisfying purchase.