Dragon Shadow Spell Soundtrack
Dragon Shadow Spell Soundtrack
March 21, 2007
Buy at CDJapan
Dragon Shadow Spell is an offshoot of the SRPG series “Summon Night”. Not a whole lot more is known about the game on this side of the world as it does not have a Wiki page or a Western release. We do however have access to the quite pleasing soundtrack. Takashi Okamoto heads up the score with some surprisingly diverse tracks. It is a wonderful mix of orchestral, rock, and even techno. We need some details now, so I’ll stop with the intro and get on with the music!
The first thing I noticed about this album was how well the mish mash of styles blended together. The beginning gives you a fine dose of funky electronic pieces with a few orchestral delights in between. “Everyday Life” pulls a strong basis on percussion, and layers an acoustic guitar melody which is later joined by a quiet flute. “Funky?” sounds exactly as you’d expect. It could easily fit in Breath of Fire III as a field theme if you are familiar with that game. To counter the fitting title theme, “Running Puppy” sounds nothing like the name suggests. It is a frantic piece filled with weird screaming sound effects and a techno drum loop. “Agony” is another track worth mentioning in this category. I don’t hear a whole lot of agony in this piece but the structure really lends well to a situation where something is going wrong.
The next section of tracks really blew my mind. Here is where you will find the majority of the orchestral pieces. “Unnatural”, while severely underdeveloped, has what I believe to be the most moving melody on here. It really pulls out emotions in what has to be a very moving scene. The melody is also used in the track previous to this one in a minimalistic harp and flute duet. “Evil Breath” is my favorite orchestral track on here. While there isn’t much “evil” about it, it literally crams in your head the fact that something big is happening. It has to be one of those “turning point” tracks in the game, where the main party is about to head off to face something very big. “Battle Song” is anything but a battle piece. The orchestra really does it here, conveying a bittersweet feeling while at the same time preparing you for what is to come. So far, every track seems to be hinting on some major action without actually delivering. That will change very soon!
Before we get into the meat of the action tracks, there are a few area themes to discuss. “Rothenburg” sounds like what we would get if Yasunori Mitsuda composed for the Suikoden series. Carried by an acoustic guitar, the flute melody bounces across the piece painting a picture of a town floating on water. The best area theme on here though has to be “Meihens”. I love the acoustic guitar and orchestra pairing, even though you don’t get much more than that. The guitar and drums give you more than enough substance, adapting to the progressive nature of the piece.
OK, now it gets fun. “Heart Creature” is the first hard rock piece that caught my attention on here. An electric guitar harmony follows behind a rock organ melody. While not melodically interesting, the force behind the guitar makes for a perfect battle theme. Keeping with that theme, “Pressure” is the next rock track worth a mention. Electric guitar and distorted vocal chanting make up the most of this piece. After a while a distorted choir takes up the vocal section until everything drops out to make room for a drum loop and the vocal chanting comes back to make up the bridge. The very next track is the games “normal” battle theme, “A Single Blow”. It is invigorating rock/techno fusion that threw me off after hearing all of that hard rock. The only issue I have with the battle themes is all this hardcore rock is dropped for a fully orchestrated final battle theme set. A real disappointment if you ask me.
The last section of the album consists of prototype tracks that never really made it into the game, or just aren’t long enough to intermingle with the rest of the tracks. Some of them are rather enjoyable however. “Arioso” is a really nice calming electronic piece. It doesn’t have a definable melody, but it still has a large enjoyment factor. There is also an A.M. radio arrangement of the games vocal opener “Rainbow”. It’s short, but the melody is nice. Speaking of vocal themes, this game has two. Both tracks are performed by the Japanese pop group DayLightFever” “Rainbow” is a decent enough pop rock track. I just don’t think the vocalist is strong enough for this piece. “One” however is a beautiful rock ballad; the simple electric guitar solo in the center of the piece just melts my heart.
This album came a quite a shocker. I had never heard of the composer or the game prior to this. What I got was one of the most successful fusion albums I think I’ve ever heard in VGM. It does have its downfalls though. There are tracks here that are worse than filler, but those can be overlooked for the awesomeness of the other pieces. This album won’t be for everyone. Some of the tracks are just too dry for the more critical listener to enjoy. For me though, it was more than enough to wet my pallet. I suggest trying it out before you buy it with a few samples. You shouldn’t be disappointed.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Bryan Matheny. Last modified on August 1, 2012.