Grand Kingdom Original Soundtrack
Grand Kingdom Original Soundtrack
June 29, 2016
Buy at Official Site
Described as a spiritual successor to Grand Knights History, Grand Kingdom is a tactical RPG set in a medieval fantasy world. Mitsuhiro Kaneda returned to lead the score for the title and was assisted by four other composers at Basiscape. Basiscape Records release the complete soundtrack as a three disc set and also made the music available through digital stores worldwide. Let’s take a closer look…
Mitsuhiro Kaneda’s main theme for the title, “Resonail”, is an improvement on its equivalent in Grand Knights History. The track encapsulates the traditional fantasy feel of the game with its Celtic-inspired orchestration and warm piano passages. The melody verges on the vanilla, but enjoys traction with various reprises throughout the score. Kaneda further develops the Celtic feel of the soundtrack with the likes of “The Guild: Base Camp”, “The White Wolf Mercenaries”, and “Blessed Victory”. In these tracks, the artist tempers his musical idiosyncrasies by putting the spotlight on some utterly hummable melodies. The rich woodwind and guitar writing on these tracks also provides some testament to his artistry. It’s a pity that these elements are synthesized, as the score would be greatly benefited from some performers, though the implementation is still a major improvement on Grand Knight History‘s. Kaneda also blends Celtic flavours with youthful vocals in the ending theme “Prayers of War” featuring Eriko Matsui.
The other members of the Basiscape team effectively build upon these elements to create a lively Celtic-flavoured score. Yoshimi Kudo’s “Cliff Edge” is an early favourite, reminiscent of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance with its jovial lyricism, while his other setting themes continue to tantalise after repeated listens. Masaharu Iwata, though held back by a somewhat dated palette, contributes several emotional tracks here such as the cantabile character theme “Away from Prying Eyes”. However, arguably the most impressive contributor this time around is Azusa Chiba, which all benefit from nuanced development and rich texturing. “Endless Forest” and “All in a Day’s Work” prove even more melodically charismatic than Kudo’s additions, with the fiddle writing in the latter proving exceptional. On the other hand, “Mercenary Trade Show”, “Hurry!”, “Dangerous Wasteland”, and “Observation” are more rhythmically and timbrally focused. These highly nuanced compositions bring plenty of mysticism and hints of darkness to the score. They work wonderfully both in-game and on the stand-alone experience.
However, between these highlights, the score inevitably has its share of stinkers. Kaneda’s attempts to convey deeper emotions with “Overwhelming Despair” and “Don’t Leave Me” fall surprisingly flat, while the various main theme adaptation for the ‘Quest’ and ‘Operation’ tracks are too fleeting to leave a lasting impression. Unfortunately, most the stinkers come from newcomer Kazuki Higashihara, whose compositions lack the individuality and finesse of his colleagues. Tracks such as “Desperation”, “Last Stand”, and “Outnumbered” attempt to bring darkness and tension to the score. However, they feel more like dreary imitations of Hitoshi Sakimoto’s tension themes, with a few Hollywood clichés to boot. They also greatly lack in polish, as evidenced from both their muddy sampling and the way both “Desperation” and “Outnumbered” loop so awkwardly. Even worse are his two blaring marches to portray Valkyr.
Saving the best till last, Grand Kingdom excels in its battle themes. Kaneda’s “The Decision is Made” and “Let’s Get Him, Boss!” are a great pair of tracks that sustain in-game repetition very well. While the former adheres to most of the conventions of the RPG normal battle theme, it also manages to prove fresh thanks to its uplifting fiddle-centric orchestration. The boss theme, on the other hand, is another triumph of lyrical phrasing and dashing orchestration. “Target the Enemy Leader!”, an utterly catchy piece inspired by the classics, while “Worthy Foe” is a wonderful Celtic jig from Kudo. Higashihara also brings some stylistic variety to the score with a couple of rockestral fusions that, while far from perfect, at least have some melodic flair and a lively character. They’re bound to divide audiences since they contrast with the otherwise orchestral pieces here, but many will love them. The album comes to a dramatic orchestral climax with Chiba’s “Enemy Attack!” before Kaneda unleashes an encompassing final battle theme with “Don’t Stand Between Fighting Lions”.
Overall, the Grand Kingdom soundtrack is recommended for fans of Basiscape. The score lacks a strong thematic core or much emotional depth. However, it makes up for it with lots of individual highlights and a strong overall style. The artists mix and match influences from Celtic music, fantasy tropes, and classic RPGs to create a soundtrack that feels familiar yet unique. Kaneda, Chiba, and Kudo in particular excel here, offering numerous pieces that are both melodically captivating and musically lush.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on April 26, 2017 by Chris Greening. Last modified on April 26, 2017.