Disgaea 4 -A Promise Unforgotten- Original Soundtrack
Disgaea 4 -A Promise Unforgotten- Original Soundtrack
Nippon Ichi Software
February 24, 2011
Buy Used Copy
Tenpei Sato has been the go-to strategy RPG composer for Nippon Ichi Software for some time now, creating many varied soundtracks to games such as Phantom Brave, Soul Cradle, and the Disgaea series. While many regarded the soundtracks to Disgaea and Disgaea 2 quite highly, many felt that the music for Disgaea 3 was a bit lacking. Recently, the fourth main entry in the series was released for the PlayStation 3. With the limited edition came the two disc soundtrack for the game. How does it compare to his previous Disgaea scores and does it manage to rectify the Disgaea sound?
Starting with the vocal themes, album opens with “Last Engage,” a theme that is most similar to Disgaea 2‘s opening theme, “Sinful Rose.” This is an energetic, catchy vocal theme led by a group called Secret Character, comprising of Asami Shimoda and Akiko Hasegawa. With its hybridised orchestral, rock, and pop influences, it really manages to capture the essence of Disgaea that I felt the opening theme for Disgaea 3 was missing. The vocals themselves are quite beautiful and really manage to capture the beauty of the melody. A more substantial vocal theme is “golden Memories”, sung by Xenoblade‘s Sarah Alainn. The voice brings ethereality to the lush, orchestral ballad that Tenpei Sato created and really helps to provide a human perspective on the melody. It’s certainly among Sato’s very best.
Sung by Masako Okuchi, “Arcadian Vampire” is the most playful of the vocal themes. It has a Latin jazz flavour with some big brass accents, but is thankfully nothing like the Disgaea 3 vocal themes. I think all the vocalists work together to bring the melody to the forefron, while the backing vocals really highlight the more powerful passages in the song, particularly during the chorus. As with almost every Nippon Ichi Software game that Tenpei Sato composes, this soundtrack also features a vocal theme sung by Tenpei Sato. “Pandora Ignition” is definitely one of his strongest efforts in this regard. It’s pure, unadulterated fun that is a treat during the game. Though Tenpei Sato’s voice may not be everyone’s cup of tea, his vocals manage to work with the powerful rock elements. In addition, there’s a short, but sweet, electric guitar solo that really adds to the energy.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Tenpei Sato album without beautiful, endearing instrumental themes as well. Continuing a Disgaea tradition, “Piano Sonata D No. 4” evolves into a powerful orchestral theme featuring elaborate piano passages. The concerto-style writing here is quite elegant and certainly immerses listeners into the soundtrack. “Sepia-colored Dream” is somewhat more modest in its approach, but no less poignant. The choral work brings a heavenly touch to the stunning music box melody, while the strings help give a romantic air to the mix. Further emotional heartstrings are tug on “Sorrow Rain”, which captures a feeling of sadness and isolation using intimate guitar and string passages, while “Old Friends” is a beautiful orchestration featuring a highlight violin solo. Both tracks are an emotional accompaniment to the game, but also manage to satisfy in their own right too.
Exploring the emotional range of the album further, “Puppet Smile” captures a theatrical tone with its bombastic brass and quirky orchestration. There are definitely some moments of brilliance in the theme, but some aspects of the orchestration won’t impress stricter listeners. “Lord Willing,” on the other hand, manages to succeed a bit more in creating a playful mood with its sphagetti western influences and softer leads. At the other end of the emotional spectrum, “Miserable” is a very dramatic piece of music that relies heavily on powerful choral work to create a sense of drama. It certainly recaptures the Netherworld-like soundscapes of the previous soundtracks in the series. Without a doubt though, this track would be only mediocre without the choral work.
There are also quite a few notable battle themes as well. “Sparkling” is introduced with the motif heard in “Last Engage”, but overall is an original theme with some fantastic passages. I particularly how the rock influence is combined with brass harmonies, haunting chorus, and piercing strings. “Beast King’s Claw Mark,” on the other hand, is an ethnic-tinged track featuring wonderful violin leads and some rock influences. It’s a bit more like Sato’s battle themes in Phantom Brave where he employs the use of some Japanese instrumentation to create a beautiful soundscape. One of the most striking battle themes, “Make the Hell” is a luscious blend of gothic rock and symphonic influences; in particular, the pipe organ in the B section sounds impressive in conjunction with the chorus, while the electric guitar that follows manages to electrify. “Hold Your Back” uses similar elements to create an even more dramatic atmosphere. The powerful choir is a staple in this theme and really helps bring that gothic touch to the theme, in conjunction with other staples.
One of the more symphonic battle themes, “Noble Marble” manages to create a very romantic atmosphere through its use of piano and violin. The piano and violin manage to play off one another quite well and really complement one another quite nicely. At times, the piano is more simplistic, but at others, it manages to create a very classical effect. Another romantic sounding battle theme is “Unflyable Wings.” There is a strong focus on strings and piano for this theme as well, in conjunction with some beautiful brass harmonies and melodies. However, some guitar accents still give it a bit of pep and reflect the youthful premise of the Disgaea series. The final battle theme, “Crimson Cross” is another testament to the improvement over the Disgaea 3 soundtrack. Opening up with some beautiful strings work, it moves into an orchestral rock theme with a ton of energy. The guitar melody is utilized in such a way that gives it a very dramatic and powerful effect, while the orchestral accompaniment manages to accentuate the overall atmosphere. It’s definitely Sato’s best final battle theme in quite some time!
Moving to the ending theme, “Canary Voyage ~Little Bird In Your Universe~” is another major improvement on Disgaea 3. The supporting vocals by Chika Takahashi in the introduction immediate bring to mind the more touching moments of the Phantom Brave. Suzuko Mimori’s lead vocals have an air of innocence about them and, although she borders on the kawaii side of the vocal spectrum, her voice is a strong fit for the accompanying music. As for the compositions, it is definitely pop-inspired, but carries with it the more intricate touches of an orchestral sound. The piano is a suitable addition to the theme, especially in the instrumental bridge, as it helps bring a sense of delicateness to the piece; however, the strings and brass are truly what make this theme a success with their marvelous support as romantic harmonizing elements to the vocal melody.
In the end, I think that the Disgaea 4 -A Promise Unforgotten- Original Soundtrack is a marked improvement over its predecessor and is one of the strongest Disgaea soundtracks to date. It really manages to capture the essence of the original Disgaea soundtrack, but also brings with it a more matured style, particularly in some of the battle and vocal themes. While not every theme is perfect, the majority of the soundtrack is a strong showing by Tenpei Sato. I highly recommend this album, especially for those who are a fan of the first two Disgaea soundtracks. With this soundtrack, Tenpei Sato was able to restore the sound of the Disgaea series and I hope that future Disgaea soundtracks continue to be this strong.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on August 1, 2012.