God Hand -God Tracks-
God Hand -God Tracks-
September 14, 2006
Buy Used Copy
When I first heard about God Hand I immediately dismissed it as another third party, third rate action game for the PlayStation 2. Shame on me! It may very well be the game that brought Clover Studio down to its knees, but God Hand is a great beat ’em up that brings Final Fight style action into the third dimension along with a good amount of over the top humor and a classy little personality that’s as unique as it is infectious. The soundtrack to God Hand was packaged with the Japanese retail version of the game and, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, people just like you and me who don’t live in Japan can get our hands on this fancy little disc. Masafumi Takada (who has also composed for Killer7, No More Heroes, and Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles) is the sole contributor at the helm for the game’s soundtrack… and what a soundtrack it is. Takada took a fairly light-hearted approach for God Hand’s music, but it fits the game extremely well and is a great standalone listen. It’s time to release the Deistic Brace and unleash the GODHAND!
Takada must have spent a lot of time watching old TV shows with campy theme music in preparation for scoring God Hand because a similar light-hearted style is prevalent for a decent portion of the soundtrack. Despite the fact that the disc’s opener, “Gene’s Rock-a-Bye”, sounds like it was inspired by something from Hawaii Five-0, the upbeat yet somewhat laid back theme portrays the main character Gene very well. I didn’t think it was possible for a song to be cocky, but I have been proven wrong. When I hear “It’s a smile World” I picture a bunch of grinning girls in short skirts and roller-skates holding hands, rolling around the skating rink with their joined arms bobbing up in the air in time to the music as the Takada rocks out major key chords on the organ. The instantly memorable melody comes in on an electric guitar and it bounces around the track’s peppy percussion with the tautness of someone strutting down the street in bell bottoms that are a size too tight. Very sleek. “Top of the Humans” follows suit with what can only be classified as techno circus music from the 1970’s. The synth is borderline obnoxious and the composition is painfully cheery but the song is, surprisingly, awesome. Even though some of the themes on God Tracks are campy, like the loud and frenzied guitar-led “Nippy Dog”, they’re well worth listening to.
The location themes from God Tracks are wonderful and are, at times, reminiscent of some of Takada’s killer7 work. “The Gang of Venice” brings an accordion to the frontlines and keeps the instrumentation mostly acoustic, which perfectly suits the waterside Italian village where the song plays in-game. “Unnavigable Sea” maintains the standard set in “Venice” but delivers some scratchy acoustic guitar lines that seem to be a tip of the ol’ cowboy hat to Fukuda’s “Tecks Mecks” from killer7. While the piece doesn’t have much development it more than makes up for it with its strong composition. “Forgotten Song” is Takada’s exotic locale theme from the disc, rife with catchy acoustic guitar noodling and a melody that makes me want to get out of my seat and jump around to its rhythm. Most of the area themes tread a line between being tense and strangely upbeat, and, while Takada never seems to take the score too seriously, it’s apparent that he has given these area themes plenty of TLC.
Where Takada really excels on God Tracks is in his inventive and energetic boss music, which is usually more mature and driving than his other themes. Since the game is mainly a beat ’em up, it’s only natural for there to be tons (and tons… and tons) of fighting going on, and what better way to get the player juiced up than by rockin’ out with some excellent boss music? “Yet… Oh see mind” is the first piece on the album that stands out as being a bit more serious than the other themes on the disc and wouldn’t be too far out of place on the No More Heroes soundtrack. It’s a mishmash of drum ‘n bass and twelve bar blues with a rather interesting voice sample sporadically sprinkled throughout the piece; I think this may be the very first time I’ve heard the F Bomb dropped on a VGM CD. “Devil May Sly”, an obvious pun on one of Mikami’s other Capcom titles, keeps the adrenaline going during the boss fight with Axel, Gene’s nemesis and the wielder of the Devil Hand. A distorted guitar sets the pace for piece while the frantic drumming keeps the momentum high throughout the song while Gene and Axel battle it out. It’s a great rock tune that maintains its edge but still has the light-hearted melodic sensibility that the rest of the album has.
One of my personal favorite battle themes, “Please Mr. SENSEI”, is a great mix of modern synthesizers and traditional Eastern musical structure and instrumentation. The guitar and synth solos are excellent and add a good amount of depth to the piece. “Battery: size AA” and “Battery Size D” are both are heavily electronic pieces that vary in speed and intensity from one another despite sharing a common melody and theme. “AA” is the more subdued and less powerful theme of the two, while the piece is sped up and intensified in its reprise with “Size D”. The voice samples are great and the tracks really fit the fights that they accompany. And then there is “Handsome Dynamite (RX-VER.S.P.L.)”, a very energetic and funky theme that accompanies a very energetic and funky boss battle, complete with slap-bass and a fast disco-influenced beat. Instead of ending the album on a high note, God Tracks ends with “The HORROR”, a minute’s worth of messy noise and uncoordinated syncopation. Classy. It’s totally out of character given the mood and compositions that precede it on the disc, but I won’t let that spoil my praise for the soundtrack even though it does deserve mention.
As the album comes to a close it becomes apparent that the qualities of the soundtrack and the game that it scores are all too similar. God Tracks is campy, occasionally obtuse and, above all, a hell of a lot of fun to listen to. While the Killer7 Original Soundtrack is a better gateway into the incredibly rich realm of Takada’s music, this album is an excellent exposition into the lighter side of his compositional skills. That said, for those of you looking for a funky, fresh soundtrack with memorable melodies and a personality of all its own, there is no other recommendation I can make than to seek out and enjoy a copy of God Tracks.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Tommy Ciulla. Last modified on August 1, 2012.