God Eater Original Soundtrack
God Eater Original Soundtrack
March 3, 2010
Buy at CDJapan
The first time I ever heard of Masaru Shiina was when I was his introduced to his contributions on the Tales of Legendia Original Soundtrack. To this date, I remember the shivers that were sent down my spine at 3am as I listened to the shrilling strings and glistening piano line in “Enemy Attack,” in complete awe of a composer who I had previously considered as an unknown. Since then Masaru Shiina, or Go Shiina as he prefers to be known, has become a big name in the game music industry, consistently providing fans with enjoyable and timeless themes. Naturally, I was thrilled at the news that he would be scoring the soundtrack for the PSP game God Eater, and even more so after hearing music samples on the game’s website. Furthermore, the sheer fact that this would be a two disc release excited me further, hoping that from past albums that Go Shiina’s contributions would be diverse in style and nothing short of fantastic. Rest assured, Shiina does deliver.
The soundtrack is filled with fascinating soundscapes, and Shiina truly impresses with his knowledge of (and excellence in) multiple musical styles, from orchestral beauties to bizarre fusions, from electronic experiments to ominous intrusions. In regard to the style which he seems to handle best, his orchestral, string, and piano themes typically come out top. For example, take “Tearing up the Storm,” his first track on the album: it is beautifully crafted with the inclusion of epic strings, dramatic piano, and is directed with a gorgeous development, in which the whole theme comes to life. It’s nothing short of amazing, and is exactly what you want to hear towards the start of an album. Similarly “Voice of the Blizzard” is just as powerful, with its masterful strings, unique militaristic development, and perfectly sculpted harmonies. The best of the fully orchestral themes though is “Deo Volente,” which features some stunning choral work and some of the strongest accompaniment and rich harmonies on the album with clarinet, brass, and percussion lining the background, further sustaining the string melody. Furthermore, the addition of the choir to the piece does it wonders, making it much more hard hitting, impressive, and grand.
As striking as his orchestral themes are, “God of Man” is just as successful with its more simplistic path to perfection featuring just ‘cello and piano. The virtuosic piano line is nothing short of impressive and the reverberating ‘cello part further adds to its beauty. A fully orchestral version of the track (“God and Man -Shall we meet again-“) does feature on the album, and although it is as strong as any orchestral game music theme, it still doesn’t touch upon the magic created in the original. A further rearrangement can be found in the vocal version of the theme (“God and Man Vocal Ver.”) from Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles vocalist Donna Burke, but the vocals seem inappropriate, and ultimately does the original no favours. The best recapitulation of the theme actually comes from another simplistic track named “Those Carrying Solitude,” played solely on a heartfelt acoustic guitar. Another simple theme is “The Last Memories,” which takes the form of a string quartet — Shiina’s string work is amazing here, and he creates an illustrious sound which exudes so much power and emotion. Certainly, in regard to his orchestral and simplistic string additions to this soundtrack, it’s hard to say which the most impacting style is, with their being no flaws in either.
Go Shiina also creates a fair deal of laidback relaxing themes on the album, mostly through the use of effortless motifs and minimal instrumentation. “A Person’s Warmth,” for example, is a sweet acoustic guitar theme with a calm unwinding melody and soft harmonica in the background. The piece is simple yet features so many intricate details that it’s hard not to appreciate its musicality. “Resting Time” also uses a guitar, much to the same effect, but this time there is the inclusion of a tropical tom-tom percussion line, giving the track a little bit of flair and uniqueness on the album. Shiina’s laidback themes are by no means all the same, with “Peaceful Time” using different instrumentation to the previous tracks, utilising piano, strings, and woodwind to create an airy, almost buoyant, atmosphere. “Ephemeral Wish” also uses some unique instrumentation, the strangest addition of which is an accordion, adding a medieval tone to the start of the theme. The best part of the track comes in around 1:05, where a sound effect is put over the top, making it sound as if the music is coming from a radio. The track which I really want to point out to you though is “Flame Dance,” which integrates Shiina’s orchestral style and makes use of a vast array of solo parts to pay homage to his simpler themes. The melodic development in “Flame Dance” is exquisite, with it ranging from guitar solo lines to a virtuosic violin section, whilst also taking upon a very Latin feel, mostly co-ordinated through the use of castanets and typical brass interjections. Additions like make Shiina’s tracks so interesting and compelling to listen to, especially when greeted with some superb development afterwards too.
Don’t get the wrong impression though, as not all of the tracks on this album are happy and melodic, with a fair few militaristic and ominous themes also featuring throughout. “The Howl of the Wolf” and “Strategy Briefing” are two good examples of what would be considered as militaristic, and mostly take upon similar styles — each features the prominent use of brass, a march-like rhythm, and overall, a very dangerous atmosphere. Even still, despite their similarities, it may surprise you that “Strategy Briefing” actually has electronic accompaniment, making it a sort of mecha-military anomaly. Other war-like themes on the album use bizarre instrumentation too, with “A Shadow Covering the Town” making use of some muffled vocals alongside a choir, and “Give me Power” utilising electric guitar and rock drums as accompaniment to strings. The two most successful warring themes on the album are “God Eater” and “March of Catastrophe,” each for different reasons. “God Eater” excels in terms of its use of orchestral instrumentation, whereas “March of Catastrophe” shines through its weird rhythmic development. For each of these tracks though, one thing is apparent, they are far from what would be considered as orthodox militaristic themes, further highlighting Shiina’s impressive technical and musical knowhow to pull this off with seemingly little effort.
He further astounds with his more ominous themes on the album too, and though some can be seen as being almost ordinary (in terms of comparing them to what we may hear elsewhere in the industry), Shiina does of course drop in a couple of weird additions along the way. “The Plan” is one of the more ordinary themes, featuring a nice ‘cello line and a menacing chime backdrop it has a very dark atmosphere. “If the Time Comes” is a good track too, with the use of sustained strings and chilling percussive sound effects, it seems to emanate a feeling of sadness, with undertones of danger. Referencing some of the more enjoyable and particularly inventive themes though, “Enemies of Mankind” features a bizarre coming together of spoken vocals with sound effects, a funky mecha-synth bass motif, and a taunting string line. “Gods’ Table” and “Gods’ Table -Surfeit-” can also be considered as two unconventional ominous themes, certainly with the latter, which combines the Indian/Hindustani vocals from the original with some creative and lifting electronic samples. The most striking ominous theme though, is the recapitulation of “Ephemeral Wish” (“Ephemeral Wish -Reminiscence-“), in which the original melody plays on a honky-tonk piano alongside a pumping synth background, before shortly moving into a hard-hitting section featuring vocals, a walking bass guitar motif, and the sounding out of a single, hazardous firewire synth note.
A large majority of the themes which I have already discussed (“Gods’ Table -Surfeit-,” “Flame Dance,” “Ephemeral Wish -Reminiscene-“) can be classed as fusions, and alongside his orchestral themes, these are what Go Shiina does best. Two more fusions which I would like to draw your attention to are “Tearing Up the Storm -A Flash of Fighting Spirit-” and “Compassionate Stage.” The arrangement of “Tearing Up the Storm” is a fusion between rock and orchestral styles, and sees the profound combination of a fantastic electric guitar line and beautiful backdrop of the orchestra. The best thing about the track is how it flows from section to section, despite pre-conception that the two styles are incompatible. In comparison to the original, Shiina’s first track on the album, this theme is certainly an interesting take, and adds so much more to the theme that it becomes self-sustaining, and satisfaction can certainly be gained by listening to either of them. The fusion of styles here though is nothing in comparison to what can be heard in the experimental “Compassionate Stage,” which combines, rock, electronica, ethnic, and orchestral styles in what can only be described as a mindgasm. Each section moves fast, with something bizarre and new coming in every couple of seconds, and though it becomes hard to follow, it’s seriously enjoyable – though frightening at times. Shiina is particularly renowned for his amazing fusions, and this album certainly holds plenty of them.
Alongside this fantastic blend of music, the soundtrack also features a couple of vocal themes from Go Shiina. As you may expect each theme takes upon its own style, with “Everybody Equally” starting off in a capella form, “God and Man Vocal Ver.” being fully orchestrated, and “No Way Back -Out of My Way-” blasting us away with its rock style. Out of these vocal themes, “No Way Back -Out of My Way-” is the most striking, and I’m fairly certain it’d do pretty well as a popular music release in the Japanese charts with its catchy beat and awesome guitar work. You’ll also be pleased to hear that the two vocal contributions from singer alan and composer Kazuhito Kikuchi are far from out of place on the album. It’s actually very rare that I really enjoy vocal themes in a game from J-Pop artists, but “Over the Clouds” is certainly an exception. It features an extremely catchy beat, a fantastic melody, and I’ll admit alan (a girl) has a pretty decent voice too. Overall, the vocal contributions to this soundtrack are strong, and actually add substance to the album, rather than just being basic additions for the sake of having a theme song or two.
The God Eater Original Soundtrack features many of Go Shiina’s best tracks to date, and for that reason it’s actually the best soundtrack so far this year. It’s hard to explain the sheer diversity of styles which the album features, and moreover, it’s hard to fathom how Shiina has managed to create so many different themes and execute them with such confidence, skill, and perfection. Out of all the styles explored, his string work is the most dominant (as ever), with some themes truly elevated past musical boundaries with their virtuosic violin, ‘cello, or string quartet sections. What’s more, everything is tremendously implemented with lavish instrumental performances and excellent electronic mixing, overcoming the notorious limitations of the PSP. Really, it’s hard to find any flaws, and rather your attention will be drawn to the album’s sheer excellence. Truly, there’s something for everyone on this album, and I feel it truly deserves the rating I have given it here. This album is a must for your collection, and you won’t be disappointed by a composer who evidently has lots to give!
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Dave Valentine. Last modified on August 1, 2012.