El Shaddai -Ascension of the Metatron- Original Soundtrack

El Shaddai -Ascension of the Metatron- Original Soundtrack Album Title:
El Shaddai -Ascension of the Metatron- Original Soundtrack
Record Label:
Square Enix
Catalog No.:
SQEX-10244/5
Release Date:
April 27, 2011
Purchase:
Buy at CDJapan

Overview

The El Shaddai -Ascension of the Metatron- Original Soundtrack is a soundtrack for an Ignition Entertainment action title recently released for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It is composed by two composers of new music production company Design Wave, namely Monster Hunter‘s Masato Kouda and Devil May Cry 3‘s Kento Hasegawa. In addition, some of their music is arranged by the composers for performance by Hiroyuki Yura and the Eminence Symphonic Choir. How does the soundtrack turn out for this biblically inspired game?

Body

Opening with heavenly choir, “Theme of El Shaddai,” composed by Masato Kouda and arranged by Shiro Hamaguchi, sets the tone for the soundtrack. Sweeping orchestral work and dramatic choir are the focal point of this theme; however, at times, there are also more peaceful orchestral focused sections that help break the intensity of the choral sections. As the theme progresses, it gets much more dramatic. In the end, I think this offers a nice balance in showcasing the more action-oriented and more atmospheric pieces the soundtrack has to offer. “Play of the Malevolent Spirit,” also by Masato Kouda, takes the main theme and arranges it sound a bit more adventurous. Another pivotal theme on the album is the main character’s, Enoch, theme entitled “The Faraway Creation ~ Enoch’s Theme,” composed by Kento Hasegawa. This theme is also choral focused and is quite heroic in nature. The choir emanates a powerful aura, while the orchestral accompaniment adds some tones of mystery and beauty, particularly during the instrumental sections of the theme. In the end, this is a wonderful theme.

There are also quite a few medleys featured on the soundtrack. The first, “Medley 1 (The Lightbearer / A Disciple’s Initiation / Michael’s Hand),” by Kouda and Hasegawa, offers three distinct soundscapes. The first, “The Lightbearer,” is a very religious sounding theme that is dominated by organ and mournful solo violin. It’s definitely my favorite aspect of this medley theme. The second soundscape, “A Disciple’s Initiation,” is a much more abstract and atmospheric track, focusing on various electronic and industrial effects. The last part of the medley, “Michael’s Hand,” has a very religious tone as well featuring heavenly choral work to create a nice cinematic flair to the medley. Kouda’s “Medley 3” opens up with “A Friend’s Last Moments,” offering a very somber, yet heavenly piece. It’s short, but quite lovely. Similarly, “Ishtar’s Purification” is a romantic sounding tune with a focus on harp, heavenly choral notes, and strings. “Ishtar’s Secret” is quite mysterious, almost alien in sound, and utilizes distorted and haunting synthesizer to achieve this effect. However, I find it to be a far cry from the more lush tones heard from Kouda earlier in the medley. “Semjaza’s Darkness” is a beautiful theme with a slight Middle Eastern flair to it. It utilizes light industrial tones, sinister piano, haunting choral work, and a sitar-like instrument to achieve a very dark and mesmerizing theme. Lastly, “Cessation” is a more melodic theme that focuses on beautiful choral and woodwind passages, giving the last section of the medley a religious, airy sound. This is definitely one of the better medley’s featured on the album.

Hasegawa’s “Medley 2” also features three sections. The first, “Nanna Stops,” is a very atmospheric and bleak soundscape that offers little hook for the listener. “Sin’s Voice” is a bit more sinister and dramatic in tone; however, it still focuses on creating a cinematic flair through the strings work. Lastly, the “The Legendary Hero” portion of the medley is a suspenseful and dramatic affair that gradually builds into a nice religious sound through the use of the choir. I find this medley to be rather weak, unfortunately, without any real hook to reel the listener in. The last medley, courtesy of Hasegawa, opens with Indian inspired vocal work and tribal percussion. It’s extremely short, but is a nice segue into “Gospel over the Sanctuary,” a heavy action oriented piece that features energetic percussion, sinister organ, and dramatic choral tones. I’m not entirely sure, but this may actually be the final battle theme as it incorporates the “Theme of El Shaddai.” “The Faraway Creation ~ PV Version” is a short reprise of the title of the same featured earlier on the soundtrack, while “The Tower Appears” is a cinematic piece that provides a bit of dramatic and sinister soundscapes. In the end, it’s a much better medley than Hasegawa’s other medley.

While there are many atmospheric, cinematic tracks featured on this album, I’ll mention a few that stood out to me. The first, “Illusions Threatening Reality,” composed by Masato Kouda and arranged by Akifumi Tada, is a very sinister theme with a Middle Eastern flair in terms of the strings work and some slight martial percussion. It really manages to create this ominous presence that really works nicely. “Scarlet Liturgy,” by Masato Kouda and Kento Hasegawa, is an atmospheric electronic track featuring some tribal percussion and chanting that gives off an otherworldly, yet earthly, vibe to it. “Silver Haze,” by Masato Kouda, is an ambient theme that focuses on some heavenly choral work and some minimalist accompaniment, such as occasional bells and electronic soundscapes. “Nephilim’s Fate,” also by Kouda, is a cinematic piece that focuses on dramatic choral tones, organ, and soft, ambient electronic soundscapes. It’s a very mysterious piece, but one that really manages to stand out, especially amongst the more cinematic themes.

While most of the album is orchestral in nature, there are a few themes that definitely stand out among the soundtrack, due to their soundscape. Mostly composed by Kouda, with a single track by Hasegawa, they offer a welcome change of pace amongst the more atmospheric offerings on the soundtrack. Hasegawa’s track, “Facing the Sanctuary,” is a jazzy theme dominated by intriguing percussion and piano. It’s definitely not the best jazz theme I’ve heard, but it does manage to succeed in creating a nice atmosphere that is both invigorating and chaotic at times. “Revelation,” by Kouda, is a rock track with some funky undertones. In a way, it’s reminiscent of Motoi Sakuraba’s work on Resonance of Fate, focusing on some electronic tones, energetic percussion, and powerful guitar riffs. I like how the B section features a very warming tone that really manages to complement the more frenetic accompaniment quite well. My favorite of Kouda’s more rock oriented themes is definitely “Premonition.” It is the most intense of the rock tracks and would also fit right into the aforementioned soundtrack. Slick guitar work, ominous and dramatic orchestral tones, jazzy piano tones, and an atmospheric electronic accompaniment really help make this theme one that stands out on the soundtrack. “1022150420” is more electronic in nature, using the electric guitar work mainly for accompaniment. However, strong orchestral brass tones are added in the melody line for an epic sound. It’s another fantastic theme. “You are mine” has a very groovy electronic soundscape that would work well in a modernized version of Streets of Rage. There are some choral tones that help add a bit of a heavenly appeal and the funky guitar work and jazzy brass fits well with the established soundscape.

There are also some more peaceful themes on the soundtrack as well. “Endless Departure,” by Masato Kouda, features a bit of Enoch’s theme by Hasegawa. There are some mysterious tones as well, through strings and harp, that also bear a slight ominous tone, but for the most part, it’s a very beautiful theme that focuses on heavenly choir work and brass work. “Heaven and Earth in Resonance” focuses on a variety of percussion, both in terms of accompaniment and melody. Ethereal choral, synth, and strings accompaniment give the theme a bit of textural contrast and really work well with the percussive focus of the theme. It isn’t the strongest melodically, but it does manage to captivate with its clever use of atmosphere. “A Floral Creation” features an accordion melody of the main theme with some staccato piano and strings work in the accompaniment. It’s a mysterious piece, but the accompaniment does become stale rather quickly, despite the addition of some varied percussion choices that attempt to alleviate the monotony. Lastly, “The Finite Spreading into the Infinite” is a vocal focused work featuring an exotic soundscape by the singer and the ethereal accompaniment. It’s a very short theme, and while it’s atmospherically nice, it may leave a bit to be desired for some.

There are also plenty of action oriented themes featured on the soundtrack. “Echoes of the Gods,” by Kouda and Hasegawa, features an epic soundscape, thanks to the pounding percussion and dramatic choral work, but the lack of any substantial melodic development hurts it. “Savage Soul,” arranged by Kazuhiko Sawaguchi, is a frenetic orchestral theme focused on strings and brass. It sounds chaotic at times, particularly in the brass, and the intense percussion gives it a nice intensity. “Those Enveloped in Darkness,” arranged by Akifumi Tada, is a dramatic orchestral theme with a focus on bombastic percussion, brass, and frenetic strings work. It comes off as sounding a bit on the generic side, but I find the overall atmosphere to be quite powerful, thanks to the choral work. “Torn Heart,” arranged by Shiro Hamaguchi, this is a very dramatic orchestral theme. The choral work and organ really helps set this atmosphere of despair, while the brass and strings harmonies really help bring the melody to life. In the end, it’s one of the better orchestral themes on the album and, despite its tempo, manages to be invigorating.

One of my favorite action oriented themes is “Tragic Scream,” a piece arranged by Hayato Matsuo and composed by Kouda. Featuring electronic beats with frenetic violin work, it sounds as though it came from Kouda’s work on Wild Arms Vth Vanguard. The violin adds a nice sense of chaos and beauty, depending on its tempo. It’s a fun theme and definitely manages to set itself apart from the more bombastic action oriented themes. “Flight of Darkness,” arranged by Keiji Inai, features an electronic beat with a brass focus in terms of the melody featured “Tragic Scream.” Throw in some violin passages and some choral accompaniment, and it’s an interesting interpretation of the motif heard in “Tragic Scream.”

One of the core themes of the soundtrack is “Rushed Progress,” a theme composed by Masato Kouda and arranged by Akifumi Tada. It’s an orchestral theme with a sinister Middle Eastern flair and militaristic percussion. Sharp brass accents and heroic brass melodies give this theme a nice, varied atmosphere overall. Arranged by Kazuhiko Sawaguchi, “Insane Motherhood” features a developed version of the music in “Rushed Progress.” The Middle Eastern flair is kept, particularly in the strings; however, the jazzy tones of the piano and brass in addition to the choral work really add some nice textures to the theme. Also arranged by Sawaguchi, “A Mirror Reflecting Images” also features the “Rushed Progress” motif. This rendition focuses on the Middle Eastern sound heard in the strings with the backing of some choral work. I find the percussion accompaniment here to be the weaker point of the theme, coming off as a crisis sort of theme.

Although featuring different melodies, “Forbidden Borderline” and “My Evolving Figure,” both composed by Kouda and arranged by Akifumi Tada,” they also carry an exotic soundscape. “Forbidden Borderline” features a bit of an Egyptian flair in the strings work. The brass and percussion accompaniment is militaristic in style, but comes off sounding a bit flat. There are some sinister swells that help add a bit of atmosphere to the theme, but it also comes off as sounding a bit on the generic side. “My Evolving Figure,” in my opinion, is a much more successful theme. It features some of the Egyptian soundscape introduced in “Forbidden Borderline,” but I think the vocal work is what really sets this one apart. The sinister atmosphere heard in the instrumentation is really accentuated by the ominous male vocal and dramatic female choral work. It’s one of the better action oriented themes on the soundtrack.

Summary

In the end, the El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron Original Soundtrack is ultimately a soundtrack that is best heard in action. Although there are plenty of powerful themes on the soundtrack, there are also plenty of tracks that create a more atmospheric listening experience that may require multiple listens to get through. The choral work is definitely a core focus of the album and although some of the themes, particularly the action oriented ones, may come off as a bit generic, the overall listening experience is a decent one. Kouda also manages to throw in some surprises with his rock oriented themes. In the end, I suggest playing the game first, as this soundtrack may not be what you are expecting, given Kouda’s previous works.

El Shaddai -Ascension of the Metatron- Original Soundtrack Don Kotowski

Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!

3.5


Posted on August 1, 2012 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on August 1, 2012.


About the Author

Currently residing in New York, I spend my days working in antibody therapeutics and dedicate some of my spare time in the evening to the vast world of video game music, both reviewing soundtracks as well as maintaining relationships with composers overseas in Europe and in Japan.



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