A.S.H. -Archaic Sealed Heat- Original Soundtrack
A.S.H. -Archaic Sealed Heat- Original Soundtrack
October 24, 2007
Buy at CDJapan
One half of the Basiscape double released on October 24, 2007 was the A.S.H. -Archaic Sealed Heat- Original Soundtrack. It was a combined effort of VGM veterans Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata, one of the most long lasting partnerships in the genre. The game itself is one of the most graphically impressive for the DS console, which is mainly down to the fact it is the first 256 MB game for the console. The extra memory also gives the soundtrack a sound quality boost too making it one of the cleanest sounding soundtracks in the handheld genre, although predominantly the tracks are resynthesised to make them more appealing to listen.
The overall sound of the soundtrack is as one would expect from the duo — an almost entirely orchestral outing with echoes of their previous scores such as Final Fantasy Tactics, Stella Deus, and Tactics Ogre. It is quite a complex soundtrack but fairly standard fare for Sakimoto and Iwata. The Main Theme pops up now and again with subtle variations to provide a sense of cohesion. It is no doubt epic with grand melodies combined with the pairing’s mastery of the synthesized orchestra to create some very tense and moving tracks. However, the interesting point is that they have stuck the original tracks on to the end of the brushed up ones to give us a taste of what the tracks sound like in game.
The two main highlights of the soundtrack for me were “The Will of the Planet” and “To the Future”. They are two leviathan tracks in terms of their presentation but are condensed into fairly short spaces of time. The former is a very atmospheric piece starting with a brooding opening with a particularly nice solo flute section it moves through more noble and light hearted sections before looping back to the dark opening. I like how the piece encompasses so many moods however it doesn’t always slip seamlessly between them making it feel more like a medley at times. To the Future” uses the Main Theme to great effect in two very contrasting sections. The first is a fairly mellow contemplation on the theme slowly and subtly building tension before releasing it in a massive crash as the second section enters. This section is reminiscent of a Hans Zimmer film score with booming timpani strikes, vibrant sting accompaniments, and several brass versions of the main theme. The only thing I can really knock is the fact that the soundtrack doesn’t end at that point, and I really think it should have personally.
The pieces to avoid are the fairly numerous and pointless short tracks which dot themselves about the soundtrack. Tracks such as “Aisya’s Tears”, “Transmigration of the Soul”, and “Rebirth” feel as if they are going to grow into pretty good tracks but then suddenly and inexplicably end. I am guessing they are incidental pieces but they seem very abrupt and perhaps a little too numerous for the soundtrack. Quite a few of the longer tracks also seem to lack a certain something. Sakimoto’s “Machinist Soldier Factory” and “Underground Labyrinth” are great pieces of ambience but are just that and can get rather boring after a few listens. The Main Theme is not much of a tune to write home about either and the fact that it is used extensively stretches it a bit thin and it can’t quite hold its own in such volume.
Iwata is not best known for his melodies but any signs of decent tunes were very few and far between. “Coronation” should be a great track with some nice grand scoring but it lacks any hook to make it memorable. The same can be said for “Beast of the Flame”, “Samnelshia Army”, and “Ancient Hatred”; they are all atmosphere and no soul and some of the aforementioned get very annoying especially as quite a few loop twice — frankly a waste of disc space. Sakimoto is perhaps less at fault in this area but he has his moments. There are some redemptive tracks though. Although Sakimoto is responsible for the two epics, Iwata provides some very solid contributions. “The Green Woods” is a great character piece with some very nicely used orchestration and “Machinist Army” has a majestic martial feel to it.
The main sore point is the fact that the soundtrack has a shamelessly rehashed game rip tagged onto the end of the soundtrack. It is essentially an extra half of music that is all too familiar in poorer sound quality only played once through. I could have understood maybe one or two put on the end as a taster but there are getting on to forty tracks; it is an almost unforgivable piece of CD filler which I really do not see the point. There also isn’t that significant a difference which seems to add to the whole silliness of the idea; there was no arranging involved just a sharpening of the synth so why we need to hear the originals I don’t know. It is this fact that turns a fairly average Sakimoto-Iwata soundtrack into a fairly poor soundtrack as a whole.
Overall, the A.S.H. -Archaic Sealed Heat- Original Soundtrack is not bad musically. It is by no means the fantastic duos best in terms of quality but there are some great and really great tracks in there perhaps submerged a little too far in filler but nice nonetheless. It certainly could have had more in terms of originality; it sounds far too much like the standard from these two, it would have been nice to have a bit more experimentation. Moreover, I feel the far too extensive game rip shows shoddy production and there is not enough gold in this soundtrack to redeem it from this.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by James Timperley. Last modified on January 18, 2016.