Ketsui -Cutting the Bonds of Hell- Premium Arrange Album

Ketsui -Cutting the Bonds of Hell- Premium Arrange Album Album Title:
Ketsui -Cutting the Bonds of Hell- Premium Arrange Album
Record Label:
Cave
Catalog No.:
CVAS-001
Release Date:
May 16, 2009
Purchase:
Buy Used Copy

Overview

It seems that recently Cave is all about putting out arrange albums from some of their more popular games. Unlike the DeathSmiles Premium Arrange Album that was bundled with the limited edition of the Xbox 360 port, the Ketsui ~Cutting the Bonds of Hell~ Premium Arrange Album was released as a standalone album. In addition, unlike the DeathSmiles Premium Arrange Album, this album doesn’t feature any arrangements by the original composer, Manabu Namiki, nor any of his Basiscape coworkers. Instead, it features a rather unexpected cast of arrangers, ranging from Michiko Naruke of Wild Arms notoriety to Noriyuki Iwadare of Grandia fame, and a bunch of familiar and not so familiar composers in between. Unfortunately for most, this album was only available at a Cave Matsuri event in May and was not sold to the general public, which even if it was, would have sold out pretty quickly as well. Fortunately, I was able to snag a copy on Yahoo Japan Auctions. Was my purchase worth all the middleman fees?

Body

There were some quite unexpected arrangers on this album, particularly Michiko Naruke and Noriyuki Iwadare, whose arrangements open and close the album respectively. Michiko Naruke’s arrangement of the character select theme, “Doomsday,” reminds me a lot of her Wild Arms work. While it’s not Western-sounding at all, she opts to transform this piece into an upbeat, and at times grand, orchestral piece with some slight electronic influence, like some of her later Wild Arms works. It’s a great way to open the album and is quite exhilarating. Iwadare chose to arrange “Last Words,” the ending theme. This is an interesting arrangement. The beginning of the arrangement is some beautiful piano and synth leads complementing one another quite nicely. As the arrangement progresses, it definitely takes on a more tone with some nice electric guitar and some beautiful synthesizer work combined with some piano and string accompaniments. Given his recent original works, this was definitely a nice “kick in the pants,” to say the least and it proves to me that Iwadare still has it. It’s a shame he doesn’t use it more often though.

Before moving onto the stage and boss themes, there are a couple more arrangements to cover. The stage clear theme, “Breakthru,” is arranged by Ryu Umemoto — who also featured on DeathSmiles Premium Arrange Album — could be considered a stage theme to the uninformed. Similar to his previous Cave arrangement, this one also features a synth and rock approach, but with a greater focus on the rock. It’s quite an exhilarating theme with a fantastic melody. It really amazes me how some people can take such a short theme and elaborate on it so much and really make it stand out. The name entry theme “Afterglow” is an interesting arrangement by Ippo Yamada, who has worked on the recent Mega Man ZX games. It has a nice industrial vibe going for it, but it’s backed by some ethereal ambience and some piano accents. It’s a more subdued arrangement that most of what the soundtrack as to offer. It might put some people off at first, but it’s definitely a creative effort!

Next, I think I’ll cover the three boss themes. The normal boss theme, “Darkened,” is arranged by Koji Hayama, known for his crazy Cho Aniki style, and it definitely transfers over here! Expect some crazy vocal work, although not nearly as much as his Cho Aniki soundtracks, and that classic Hayama synth/rock soundscape. It’s got a fantastic beat and really manages to keep the energy throughout. I must admit, I love when Hayama includes random vocal samples in his works, and I’m glad he did so here! “KET-SU-I!” The last boss theme, “Scaffold,” is arranged by Toshiya Yamanaka and is done in a rock style with some industrial influence. It’s got a fantastic energy and the electric guitar solo is absolutely to die for. It only heightens the experience. On the original soundtrack, the true last boss theme “No Remorse” was a quicker version of “Scaffold.” However, WASi303 slows the tempo down overall, throws in some nice slower synth sections, and makes the melody a bit more accessible to the original, as most people would find the true last boss theme to be utter noise.

However, a lot of the true gems are present in the stage themes. Yasuhisa Watanabe, who also arranged the first stage theme on the DeathSmiles Premium Arrange Album, returns to arrange — you guessed it — the first stage theme on this album. “Interception – Noisy Town” is an electronica driven arrangement that gradually builds as it progresses. For example, the beginning is quite peaceful and slow, but as the track develops, it adds some nice synth layers and quickens the tempo a bit. It’s a nice romp, but I think I prefer his “Burning Halloween Town” arrangement slightly more. The second stage theme, “Suburb – Armored Green,” arranged by former Konami Kukeiha Club member TECHNOuchi, is another electronica theme, with a focus on drum n’ bass beats that accompany soft electronica melody lines. It’s a nice take on the original and, despite its length, manages to keep my attention quite nicely.

Keishi Yonao arranges the third stage theme, “Canal Fleet – Twilight Fleet” and does so with style. He offers a focus on exhilarating tempos, some interesting synth lines, and a fantastic mixture of beats, some drum n’ bass styles, and some more trance-like styles. It’s quite enjoyable and has a nice spacey atmopshere, but it’s probably my least favorite of the stage theme arrangements. So, surely you are thinking to yourself, the stage themes seem to focus a lot on electronica, but is there anything else besides that? Well, you are in luck! The best arrangement on the album, “Defensive Line – Lurk in the Darkness,” is the fourth stage theme. Arranged by Western composer Jake “Virt” Kaufman, who worked on Contra 4, it takes on a nice grunge mixed with metal sound. It’s got some excellent guitar riffs, which in my opinion really make the album, but the occasional synth melody does sneak in alongside the guitar melody. Speaking of guitar, it’s got the most kickass solo of them all!

Lastly, “Evac Industry – Judgment Day,” the fifth stage theme, is arranged by Akari Kaida, who worked on Breath of Fire III, and goes back to the synth focus of the other stage theme arrangements. It’s got a nice interesting electronica beat, mixed with some more subtle industrial influences. I also hear a bit of jazz influence in some of the bass line elements, but for the most part, this is a very solid arrangement by Kaida. I’ve always enjoyed her work and her take on the last stage theme is a nice way to finish up the review.

Summary

In the end, this was a very solid album that features a nice bit of diversity as well. While I prefer, slightly, the DeathSmiles Premium Arrange Album, any Cave soundtrack lover should definitely try to get this before all the copies dry up on Yahoo Japan Auctions. It’s definitely worth it and there were quite some surprising arrangements, mainly by Virt, Kaida, Iwadare, and Naruke, as well as more expected, yet still fantastic, arrangements by the more electronica focused composers. I wonder if we’ll see anymore arrange albums of late. I’m hoping for an arrange album for DoDonPachi Dai-Fukkatsu, but really, I’ll take anything!

Ketsui -Cutting the Bonds of Hell- Premium Arrange Album Don Kotowski

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

5


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


About the Author

Don Kotowski

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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