Dragon Ball Z Game Music Awakening Chapter
Dragon Ball Z Game Music Awakening Chapter
December 21, 1995
Buy Used Copy
The Dragon Ball Z Game Music series is a collection of albums with arranged music from the various Dragon Ball video games of the early 90’s, all of which were composed and produced by Kenji Yamamoto. Most games received respective album releases that featured interesting fusions of musical genres and styles that were characterized by a unique wall of sound, offering something cool and fresh with each entry. Most of these albums were pretty varied, resulting in quite a mishmash of a listening experience, and most of them barely resembled the source material from the games. Nevertheless, they featured certain central themes from each respective game score, resulting in a more coherent flow of the music. Still, there were two exclusive albums that represented several Dragon Ball games of the mid ’90s that didn’t receive individual album releases. The first album to be released was Dragon Ball Z Game Music Awakening Chapter, later to be followed by Rebirth Chapter. Both albums include arrangements from more than one game, resulting more in compilation-like albums rather than musical experiences of their own. Case in point, Awakening Chapter features arranged music from the Action RPG Dragon Ball Z Super Gokuden 2 released for the Super Famicom, and the fighting game Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Battle 22 released for the PlayStation.
Right off the bat it’s clear that the best arrangements of the album come from Ultimate Battle 22 since, in that game, the music was very memorable to begin with, having much more personality and being much more fleshed out. Not only that, but the variety was astonishing too. UB22 featured a lot of influences from various genres, including rock, jazz and classical, fusing all of it with various ethnic elements that characterize Yamamoto’s sound for the DB games. Most of the themes are pretty colorful. For example, “Running onto the Battlefield” is an exuberant jazzy piece that boasts a wicked sax melody, intricate keyboard elements, and simple but effective rhythmic guitars. The sax solos halfway through can get a little overwhelming and boring, but overall the theme is pretty memorable and tasteful and deserve the spot as one of the highlights of the DB discography.
On the other hand, “The God of Death’s Royal Birth” is an interesting, experimental track. It relies heavily on mid-tempo electronic percussion that is combined with some interesting and eerie sound effects to emphasize the evil and menacing main motifs. Consecutive listens reveal much more and become much more enjoyable despite the nefarious nature of the track. On the contrary, “Willpower of Light” is very accessible and engrossing from the go. Of course, being a vocal version of Trunk’s theme from UB22, on top of it sung by Hironobu Kageyama, it surely kicks considerable amounts of ass. Originally, Trunks’ theme is comprised of a bittersweet and memorable piano intro, later accompanied by a blast of heroic motifs. The same applies to this arrangement, but the mix of hard rock and jazz elements gives to it a totally different edge. Simply put, it’s a very memorable song, full of blazing guitars and anthemic trumpets, which is typical Dragon Ball Z fare, but still manages to be one of the best vocal pieces of the series. I feel that there could have been done better arrangement choices in certain aspects, but these are very minor details that don’t compromise an otherwise awe-inspiring song.
“A Desperate Situation” is a pretty faithful arrangement of Cell’s theme. The theme combines a catchy guitar rhythm, electronic sounds and memorable synth melodies, inspiring a very futuristic vibe but also at the same time urgency and danger. Despite it’s experimental nature, the theme manages to stick in your head quite easily. On the other hand, the original karaoke version of “Promise of Immortality” is quite simple, yet the piano melodies are beautiful and the overall piece is soothing and relaxing, with an almost ethereal feel. Despite not being a strong character themes like the rest of UB22, it still is one of the most memorable pieces from the game.
Unfortunately, most of the album is made up of the arrangements from Super Gokuden 2, which to say the least, tend to have quite some filler and redundancy, and worse of all, reused music from the first Super Gokuden. It’s a shame that more material from UB22 wasn’t used for this particular album. Nevertheless, Super Gokuden 2 has its fair share of awesomeness, but its biggest problem is the presentation, since most of the music is presented in the forms of suites, with short themes merged together regardless of context. Some of these sections are actually quite good. The “Violent Assault” suite features Yamamoto’s signature sound for his DB scores, mixing unique synth sounds with futuristic and ethnic elements. The track flows inconsistently, opening with energetic synths, continuing with slower tribal rhythms, eerie and atmospheric segments, and in the end an upbeat, pop-flavoured part. Separately as individual themes, these are not bad, and some are actually very good, but listening to them as a single “medley” track, is quite bothersome. The same applies to the other “suite” tracks. There are many enjoyable parts, but they still manage to drag the album down sometimes.
Fortunately, there are other worthy tracks on the album. “Lord Kaio’s World” is an interesting electronic piece, featuring futuristic synths that create an unexpectedly enjoyable atmosphere, regardless of its brevity. “Sad Song (Elegy)” is also pretty decent with its mellow piano parts mixed with organ elements, while the ending theme “Tears Fall as Rain” is just a plain ballad sung by Kuko. Her voice is pretty good, but the song itself won’t change any lives. While the ending of the album is calm, the opening is very badass. “Awakening Volume – Opening Theme” is too much fun to listen and it’s just plain memorable. Starting with atmospheric organ elements, the theme later blasts off with catchy electric guitars and synths, resulting in an energetic and amazing opening for the rest of the slightly disappointing album.
Overall, Dragon Ball Z Game Music Awakening Chapter is a very mixed bag. It’s difficult to recommend, since it has a few presentation problems, and most definitely you need to be a fan of the original music. The arrangements from Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Battle 22 are very well executed and make up pretty much the highlights of the album. Almost all of them are very memorable, and you can’t go wrong with the bittersweet but rocking experience of “Willpower of Light”. Still, most of the rest is quite forgettable or redundant, and some good parts are hidden within the suite tracks, while other tracks are just too short or not that great. If you can forgive some of its obvious flaws, the album is still a worthy consideration.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 1, 2012 by George Capi. Last modified on August 1, 2012.