The Throne of Blood
International Title
 Throne of Blood
Music By: Masaru Sato
Record Label: Toho Music
Running Time: 67:03 Discs: 1
Release: November 2001 CD Number: AK-0003
Anthony Romero
First, thanks goes to Jessica Stan for sending this in for review!

Soundtracks are an interesting hobby. Most people collect them because it adds a sense of imagery to the music, a sometimes visceral experience tied to the movie it came from. This is why people's favorite soundtracks come for their favorite movies, as the two become so tightly linked. This isn't always the case as sometimes a really good soundtrack is saddled to a lacking production and rises above, case in point Super Atragon (1995). Naturally, the inverse is also true, where a phenomenal production is paired with an under whelming soundtrack... case in point, Throne of Blood.

This complete score, sold as part of the Film Music of Akira Kurosawa the Complete Edition 1 box set and by itself, is an early one done by maestro Masaru Sato. Undoubtedly, Sato is one of Toho's most refined composers, but it took him awhile to get there. This movie was released just two years after the composer's esteemed mentor, Fumio Hayasaka, had passed away. Sato was still trying to find his footing, and would ultimately pave a path much different than his teacher. He started to find that footing the next year, producing not great but more engaging scores for H-Man (1958) and The Hidden Fortress (1958) with a slight hint of the big band flavor he would be known for.

His score for Throne of Blood is similar to his other earlier 1950's work, having a more traditional Japanese approach with sharp flute notes and chanting. Its biggest fault is that, frankly, its a very boring score when removed from the movie. The Macbeth inspired film is rarely placed amongst Kurosawa's top three movies, but is still one of the greatest Japanese productions ever filmed. The soundtrack is often more like a dramatic play in its approach, subtle and faint. Outside of the shrill flute playing, its pretty shadowy and doesn't draw much attention to itself. This means it doesn't really heighten or detract from the movie in anyway, but as a standalone experience its very lacking. The exceptions are "Riding Fast", "Chaotic Position" and the oddly upbeat "The Northern Castle" which aren't so much great tracks but ones that feel like modern day film themes and actually demand some attention when removed from the movie. The rest of the themes, however, feel like a vacant landscape.

Now this 2001 release by Toho Music is an early example of their inconsistent approaches, something that was on full display for the Godzilla Perfect Collection releases. This CD mixes in unused tracks alongside ones used in the production, while also has the original and film versions of "Conception" placed back-to-back. While this approach is not "wrong", Toho Music will on other releases place these in the bonus tracks area. That factor aside, the disc has the full score with several bonus tracks tagged at the end too. Like the score itself, these aren't particularly noteworthy, but the completeness of the presentation is appreciated.

Overall, this release of the film's score by Toho Music is about as complete as you are going to get, but the soundtrack itself is just better suited as part of the movie and not removed from it.
Rating: Star Rating
  1. Titles
  2. War Drum
  3. Bright Light
  4. Riding Fast
  5. Old Woman of the Straw Hut (Unused)
  6. The Spirit Vanishes
  7. Ancient Battlefield
  8. Wandering in the Fog
  9. Bonfire
  10. Eerie Coincidence
  11. The Northern Castle
  12. Hunting Ground
  13. Provocation ~ The Forbidden Room
  14. Victim of Delusions
  15. Ruling Power at Stake
  16. A Feeling of Sadness and Gloom
  17. Maddening Dance
  18. Chaotic Position
  19. A Line of Great Lords at the Funeral
  20. Taketori Enters the Castle
  21. Conception (Original Version)
  22. Conception (Film Version)
  23. Returning to the Spirit (Unused)
  24. Phantom Warrior
  25. The Large Army Comes
  26. The Great Army I
  27. Smiling Taketori (Unused)
  28. The Great Army II
  29. Omen
  30. The Moving Forest of Spider's Web I
  31. The Moving Forest of Spider's Web II
  32. The Great Army III
  33. Ending

    Bonus Tracks
  34. Titles (Gong in Reverse)
  35. Titles (Gong)
  36. The Spirit Vanishes (Raw Source 1)
  37. The Spirit Vanishes (Raw Source 1)
  38. Wandering in the Fog (Strings)
  39. Wandering in the Fog (Bass Strings)
  40. Wandering in the Fog (Rhythmic)
  41. A Line of Great Lords at the Funeral (No Drums Dubbing)
  42. A Line of Great Lords at the Funeral (Rhythmic)
  43. The Moving Forest of Spider's Web I (Reverse)
  44. Titles (Alternate)
  45. Riding Fast (Alternate)