By RecSpec 16 Comments
When I learned last night that Normand Corbeil, the composer of Heavy Rain, passed away after a five month battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 56. I was crushed. It’s weird, it’s not like I knew much about the guy. I thought I should write something, but hell, what do I know? I can’t write about all of his music, he did quite a bit of film scores before his work in Heavy Rain, but I don’t know much about those. Here’s what I do know,I know that Heavy Rain’s soundtrack was fantastic. And it’s a shame that Corbeil passed away so soon. He was working on the score for Beyond: Two Souls as well. This isn’t an obituary, I'm nowhere near qualified to do such a thing. This is a tribute to the Heavy Rain soundtrack, which was brought to us because of Corbeil.Before I continue, I should get a few misconceptions out of the way. Normand Corbeil did the score for Heavy Rain, but that doesn’t mean all of the music. A lot of the music is from Audio Network, a place that sells music you can use for productions etc. Remember the song from the trailer? It’s a great song, but it wasn’t by Corbeil. That song is called Mars, and it’s on Audio Network. Any radio music, club music, etc. That wasn’t Corbeil’s work. I get how people would make that mistake, but I just wanted to get that out of the way, to dodge the inevitable “Why didn’t you talk about Mars?” comments.
One more side note. Between me and my brother and sister, Heavy Rain is pretty much OUR game. We have a lot of different opinions about games, but our love for Heavy Rain is the same for each of us. And you know what? Maybe it doesn’t deserve that much love. Looking at it today, it doesn’t look so hot. It has it’s flaws, but at the time it came out, such a goddamn fantastic ride. While The Walking Dead was making people go “Oh wow, the choices matter.” All I kept thinking was how much it reminded me of how Heavy Rain blew me away. We’ve had a lot of fun adding lyrics to some of Corbeil’s songs. (“Ethan’s sad, really sad” for Ethan’s theme. “Jayden. Is Dead. Jayden. Is Dead” for Jayden’s theme.) And there is the constant running joke between us that if you listen to Ethan’s theme long enough, it’ll turn into Aerith’s theme. Cloudy memory is possible, but I don’t think I can remember the last time someone in the industry’s death hit so hard as Corbeil’s did. A major part of this me, my brother, and sister’s love for Heavy Rain. Here are some of the songs from heavy rain that still stick with me, almost three years later.
Warning: There may be spoilers for Heavy Rain after this point.
Corbeil’s song is the perfect introduction to the dark depressing world of Heavy Rain.
If you don’t remember, Heavy Rain doesn’t start with any rain at all, you’re waking up on a bright sunny day. Even if you haven’t played it, you’re fully aware of “Jason!” and him getting hit by the car. After that is the opening credits, and one of the first time’s you’ll hear a version of “Ethan Mars’ Main Theme.” It’s a very slow yet powerful song. The song is used throughout the game in both an orchestra version and a piano version, the intro has a combination of both. It’s a great song, even if it is a complete downer.
The theme that accompanies Shelby is quiet, and barely there. That’s not an insult to the song, just a comment on how well it fits. Scott Shelby is barely there in the story, he starts off seemingly competent, then does a lot to make him look like a bumbling fool. Of course, it all turns around in probably the most memorable moment in the game. When Shelby is revealed as the killer, everything makes sense. Watching him dispose of the evidence one piece at a time, looking at all the people you thought you were helping. That’s a sharp turn, and it’s a great scene. Corbeil’s music takes a shift from unassuming to ominous, and playing the game a second time, knowing that Shelby is the killer, that theme helps make each scene more unsettling than it already is.
This is a fine song, but I would be lying if I didn’t say I was putting this on here for the first minute or so. The song starts off quietly, then slowly but surely builds up, then those horns! That stinger is the most memorable part of the whole thing for me. It has been my email tone for a couple of years now. And those piano notes that follow it are fantastic. Also, Jayden has the most chances to die in this game, and every time he does, those horns and the piano. This show’s the most in his Smoking Mirror ending. While it doesn’t have the piano, it still has that slow, foreboding buildup to the stinger. Such a great intro.
I couldn’t really choose a single song from one of the many action sequences Corbeil did the music for, so I chose the video of the credits, which has most of the song’s in it. (In order, the songs are The Bulldozer, The Hold Up, The Chase, Countdown, and Looking for Shaun. The main reason I can’t pick one is that each song fits extremely well with the scene. Now, people could see that as a fault with the game, because each character seems to have a similar theme to their action sequence, but the music in each one is pretty good. Mad Jack and Jayden’s fight (The Bulldozer) is a brutal fight, and the song matches that, with hard swings and the feeling that someone is about to die. The Chase has a sense of urgency and panic, which goes well with a lot of Madison’s scenes. She seems to be running away or escaping something most of the time. To be honest, most of these have a strong sense of unease. It can be easy for the voice acting to pull you out of the scene (especially if you use the thought button), but the music does a great job of keeping the pressure on.
I’m looking forward to Beyond: Two Souls. It’s sad that it will be Normand Corbeil’s last work. If the score is even half as integral as the soundtrack from Heavy Rain, then it will be fantastic. Heavy Rain isn’t the best game on the PS3, not even close, but it is my favorite game, and one game I will remember for a long time. Corbeil’s work not only added to that experience, it was an important element. Without his score, I would not revere it as much as I do. Thank you Normand Corbeil, you will be missed.