All Star Pro-Wrestling II Original Soundtrack
All Star Pro-Wrestling II Original Soundtrack
January 23, 2002
Buy Used Copy
Many visitors to the site probably ask ‘Why does a wrestling soundtrack have coverage on a site dedicated largely to RPG music?’. An interesting question, indeed, but with a very simple answer: It’s composed by Tsuyoshi Sekito, Square Enix employee, lead guitarist of The Black Mages, arranger of Romancing Saga Minstrel Song, and composer of Brave Fencer Musashi. While the Japan-only All Star Pro-Wrestling series is actually a trilogy of games, only the second instalment received an official album release, largely as a consequence of the lack of popularity towards the games themselves rather than their actual musical quality. This score, almost entirely rock-based, provides the foundations for the style established in The Black Mages, while also featuring band members Tsuyoshi Sekito, Keiji Kawamori, and Kenichiro Fukui in places. It is, however, a worthy soundtrack in its own right, albeit sometimes the victim of underdevelopment and lack of diversity.
Most albums start with a bang. This one doesn’t, thanks to “Zenith,” the opening track. This is a theme that begins in a very messy and incoherent way but saves itself later on with some intricate guitar lines. The first 30 seconds seem to have no real purpose at all, and in comparison to what the rest of the composition offers, it could so easily give the listener the wrong idea about what is to come. The next track, “Mighty Dragon,” is definitely an improvement. Sekito gives this track more firm melodic foundations, introducing a brief leitmotif used later on in the score. “Black Party” reflects the experimental edge of the score, featuring gloriously manipulated guitar lines, in addition to some vocals, emphasising the variety the introduction provides. While problems concerning listenability and accessibility are prevalent here, the technical and stylistic basis of the album is firmly established here; it’s immediately clear that Sekito has great knowledge of the rock genre and this is his true forte, and his own precise, aggressive, and stylish electric guitar performance especially stands out.
Many pieces in the soundtrack have a similar feel due to their intentions being rather similar, exemplified initially by the series of introductory themes used to represent new opponents entering the ring. “Strong Muscles” is the first occurrence of such themes, and it follows a distinctive slow rock format that gives an image of the thumping footsteps of a major opponent. Its most obvious and effective feature is the use of some pre-recorded low-pitched roars from wrestler voice actors to represent a formidable display of aggression. “Crossbow” is another theme that is similar in nature, and, though the drum kit part isn’t too inventive this time round, Sekito’s electric guitar performance, which involves an array of screeching high-pitched glissandi, makes it more than bearable. Sekito takes a slow rock approach once more for “Heavy Bomber,” though it differs by moving into a much more melodic section after the oppressive introduction that manages to be enjoyable without sounding totally cheesy. On the whole, Sekito uses three key elements here: a steady beat, some awesome guitar manipulation, and something inventive to add a layer of originality.
The style adopted in these introductory themes is adapted slightly to create a series of more threatening and fast-paced tracks. “Devildom” is the classic example of this; while there is once again a steady beat, the tempo is twice that of tracks like “Heavy Bomber,” resulting in the release of the tension built up in preceding tracks in a spectacular way. The utilisation of some voice samples once more, this time a series of French phrases spoken by a female in a monotone voice, add an additional layer of originality, though are undoubtedly random. “God Almighty” and “Blood Hound” have similar effect, though are somewhat flawed. The inclusion of a synthesizer and general manipulation of instrumentation in the former results in an enormous amount of variety in timbres, yet the guitar solo doesn’t develop as profoundly as it could have done. As for “Blood Hound,” threatening voices and oppressive guitar work are a plus, though the development is underwhelming once more. “Demolisher” adopts quite a clichéd format, feeling like an inferior and underdeveloped imitation of Cyber Org‘s “Rose of Versailles” by Yoshihiro Sato, yet still manages to entice due to Takeharu Ishimoto’s bombastic implementation, Sekito’s ghostly guitar performance, and the jagged gothic organ lines that run throughout.
The soundtrack does offer some light themes, which are often colourful in appearance, though can be formulaic in approach. “Zeal,” for example, adds some synthetic strings and subdued maracas to the typical electric guitar, bass guitar, and drums, creating an uplifting atmosphere with even ‘new age’ vibes. Somehow, though, it feels all too transparent, notable because of the fact it changes the score’s atmosphere momentarily, yet unremarkable in the way it does this. “GEN” is far better. The vivid image of open space and tall mountains generated by a variety of oriental instruments, including traditional harps, makes it a relaxing and inspiring gen (poor pun intended). It does Ryuji Sasai’s score to Bushido Blade 2 proud. The next track, “Inspired World,” is probably the most enjoyable on the whole soundtrack. With a buoyant harmonic line that is simple yet effective in conjunction with an awe-inspiring melody, it has an everlasting effect upon many listeners. In cases like this one, creating a serene atmosphere seems natural to Sekito, and by using other instruments other than the typical guitar and drum kit, he really lets them shine.
The conclusion to the soundtrack is intricate and enjoyable. “Burning Hearts” is an inspirational theme that just seems to have it all. Admittedly, just like the other tracks, it loops far too soon, but the difference is that its potential is fulfilled almost straight away, despite the short length. Sekito uses a variety of instruments in this track to make it sound great, so perhaps it was just more instruments that he needed to make his themes perfect elsewhere. The soundtrack’s principle ending themes, “Electric Shock” and “L.F.O,” are concise, effective, and unmemorable, wrapping things up nicely, but that’s all, much like similar themes from action soundtracks that lack much overriding thematic emphasis. As marvellous bonuses, there are arranged versions of “Full of Power,” “Go 2 Blazes,” and “King of Monsters” from All Star Pro-Wrestling, two of which were co-composed by Kenichiro Fukui. These tracks certainly hold the length that each of the other tracks should show, and added to this, the electrifying atmosphere that they emit is awesome. It’s a real pity there were not any more reprises featured.
Clearly, there are two large flaws that are evident throughout. First of all, although Sekito’s rock styled tracks are wondrous to hear, a whole score dedicated principally to electric guitar, bass guitar, and drums used in a sometimes generic way doesn’t offer much stylistic variety. While there’s still plenty of contrast in the soundtrack’s latter stages, as keyboard instruments, voice samples, and other forces are added, some parts of the album feel repetitive, indistinctive, and boring. More worrying, however, is the issue regarding length. With themes not receiving loops and most being barely developed beyond the 1:00 minute, even the most promising themes often greatly disappoint by simply ending right as a guitar solo starts to become astonishing or a new section could have been added. With 95% of the All Star Pro-Wrestling II themes being less than 1:30 in length, this is unacceptable given that the soundtrack ends only after 50 minutes in length and there could have been so much more offered.
Overall, this album represents a promising and inspired disappointment. While now outshone by The Black Mages’ albums and Sekito’s tracks for Romancing Saga Minstrel Song, it is still a classic due to the way it convincingly integrates a hard rock feel, voice samples, and more into a Square score, hereby directly paving the way for Square Enix’s first band. Hardcore fans of The Black Mages’ music and Tsuyoshi Sekito should seriously consider purchasing this album from Game Music Online before their limited stocks run out, though, for others, it certainly isn’t the definitive Square rock experience. Also, if you’re still wondering, it is purposeful to cover this album, and, if you think this is the most obscure album we cover, you’re wrong; consider the kaleidoscopic shooter soundtrack for IS: Internal Section, the old-school obscurity Might and Magic, or the hentai industry’s Ni~dzuma wa Sailor Fuku Original Soundtrack next time for further testament into the thoroughness of our composer coverage. Yes, they’re relevant!
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Dave Valentine. Last modified on January 18, 2016.