Guilty Gear XX Sound Alive
Guilty Gear XX Sound Alive
March 19, 2003
Buy at CDJapan
There is something special preserved within the plastic confines of the disc that contains A.S.H.’s live renditions of select songs from the Guilty Gear XX soundtrack; something raw and unhindered by the luxury of being recorded in a professional studio. From the picked-out intro of “Feedback” to the final cymbal rolls and snare hits of “Holy Orders” there is an undeniable abundance of ferocity that is nigh-impossible to create in front of a mixing board in a controlled environment. There are no producers speaking into a microphone on the other side of a glass wall suggesting to “Try that solo again. It could, I don’t know, flow better than that.” A.S.H. had only one chance to pull of their set, and hot damn, did they ever.
I have had opportunities to perform both in concert and in a studio with bands that I have personally been involved in, and I can say that the intensity of a live performance can be reduced to a mere whimper in the studio. Instead of taking a power-metal stance on stage with one foot up on a floor monitor and the other planted on level ground, soloing into a frenzy while the crowd is cheering in your face, recording in a studio is controlled. You put on headphones and play your guitar lines until you get it right. There are no words in the invisible dictionary collecting dust between my ears that can adequately describe what it feels like to take in, or more respectfully, give, an awesome live performance. However, I can put on Sound Alive and point at my throbbing speakers with my mouth agasp and say that this, this right here, is what it feels like. During this 68-minute barrage, A.S.H. gives their collective and individual all to initiate and maintain a high level of energy throughout their set.
The Guilty Gear soundtrack that this set draws its inspiration from is the Guilty Gear XX Original Soundtrack, and while most of the themes stay faithful to the studio versions featured on that soundtrack, there are enough changes and new arrangements to warrant a purchase for diehard fans of the original themes as well as for casual or new Guilty Gear fans.
The new arrangements of “Blue Water, Blue Sky” and “Holy Orders”, both of which have been finely tuned and flipped around, use their respective main riffs as a template to structure something familiar yet equally fresh. Both themes have riffs and melodies that will instantly strike a nostalgic chord in the hearts of Guilty Gear fans, but the manner in which they’re presented are unusual and unexpected. “Blue Water, Blue Sky” is transformed into a slow-tempo power ballad that doesn’t quite build, but flows evenly throughout its duration. “Holy Orders” is slowed down to a moderate chug, laced with improvisational solos that lead into the main melody line of the song. They’re both refreshing takes on classic tunes, and serve to break up the otherwise fast-paced set.
The remaining tracks are all reproduced with enough energy to be worth a listen whether you have the GGXX OST or not. My personal favorites are “The Midnight Carnival” and the encore of “Holy Orders ~ Be Just of Be Dead”. It’s pretty amazing to hear hundreds of people scream at the top of their lungs when the first recognizable notes of Ky’s theme are played; apparently the Kiske Female Fan Club was in full attendance during the show.
My only valid complaints about this CD is that the rhythm guitar isn’t loud enough, and that sometimes the lead melodies are a little rushed or sometimes too loose. However, these are tiny qualms compared to the positive qualities this CD possesses. It’s raw, it’s live, and it rocks; plain and simple. As an extra bonus, after A.S.H.’s live set there is an bonus studio track, “Beatin’ my Soul”. This track is from Guilty Gear XX, but was not available on the OST. It’s not very Guilty Gear-esque due to its blues structure and melodies, but it is still another tasty morsel from Ishiwatari despite being short and slightly out of character.
As a musician, and as a fan of Guilty Gear music, I whole-heartedly recommend Sound Alive to any fans of the Guilty Gear franchise and to most rock music fans as well. It’s loud, mostly ferocious and fist-pumpingly delicious, as long as you can handle the raw and live sound, and is completely worth the purchase. While the Guilty Gear Original Soundtrack is the more consistent purchase, it only holds a fraction of the energy of A.S.H.’s live set. Now if I can just find that Ky costume…
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Tommy Ciulla. Last modified on August 1, 2012.