By Joseph "Skull vault" Walter
Down its beaten roads, one finds the decaying ruins of the town's graveyards and mausoleums... and then a massive structure.
A derelict, crumbling church, with an otherworldly orange glow emanating from its basement, stands ominously against the night sky.
This desolate village is Tristram, and something evil flourishes within the catacombs of its church...
Earlier this season, I revealed just how terrified I was (am?) of Diablo's desecrated church and its orange, otherworldly glow, but there is a positive side to that potent nightmare fuel: "Tristram," the excellent musical theme for the town that the church resides in.
"Tristram" is a fantastic piece that is both a perfect slice of the musical apex enjoyed during the classic Blizzard era and a prime example of a theme that encapsulates EVERYTHING about the subject it represents.
Let's give it a listen:
After the intro, the guitar takes center stage and the song transitions into something far more melodic... but there's an underlying (and unyielding) sense of dread and menace, thanks to the slightly "off" guitar playing, and the deep, descending bass notes that manifest beneath its surface.
However, it's only after these disparate musical elements meld together that "Tristram" becomes something immensely intriguing:
Tristram's theme is like a zombie, outwardly monstrous but bearing a resemblance to its former self. This haunted, sullen town has fallen on dire times, and the palpably sinister tone does a great job of conveying it, yet, at the same time, there's still some semblance of the town's previous, better days left in the music.
It's an awesome way to thematically convey what's going on with the town, and the idea is perfectly executed.
Another highlight of the piece includes the ethereal respite starting at 1:30, which culminates in the form of a fantastically dreamy guitar flourish around 2:15.
Following this is an introspective guitar solo and then a variation of the main theme, featuring the addition of an almost ghostly flute that makes things even more unsettling and eerie than they were before.
Finally, the song reaches its thematic climax: starting at :400, after a frenzied and sonically prickly guitar sequence, we enter what I'd describe as "the breakdown."
Joined by somber and foreboding strings and horns, the guitar plays a quicker and more downtrodden version of the main theme, that gives off an unnerving sensation of things "winding down" into oblivion.
While the majority of the theme is an impressive mix of malice and the broken memories of happier times, the finale is a direct and truly haunting warning.
Tristram is cursed. Stay away.