The King of Fighters XIII Original Soundtrack
The King of Fighters XIII Original Soundtrack
August 4, 2010
Buy at CDJapan
While still grieving over the absence of a soundtrack release for The King of Fighters XIII, I found out that next installment of SNK’s fighting series would get its soundtrack published. Of course I was overjoyed, as listening to something totally new from the series is a rare and exciting opportunity. Still, I was slightly skeptical, seeing how the music of the franchise has had many changes throughout the last decade, with the departure of the Neo Geo Band, some of which I haven’t been very fond of. Nevertheless, my expectations were blown away, since this is truly one hell of a soundtrack, and is an amazing tribute to the series’ roots.
The album doesn’t like to waste any time, since right from the first track, the listener is bombarded with awesome beats, synth parts, and guitar solos. Its truly exceptional, as the only King of Fighters title track worth listening to over and over again. After that wave of awesomeness comes “The Second Joker”, an incredible track that has a youthful and rebellious melody, filled with blazing guitars and synths. It’s a very effective stage theme for Ash.
A common element that can be heard throughout the album is the bigger emphasize on electric guitars for the main melodies. While this feature is quite common in fighting soundtracks, it contrasts to most music in the King of Fighter series where keyboards and sax were the most used. This stands true for “Esaka Continues”. Most “Esaka” themes in the past had a main synth melody, despite being very much oriented towards rock music. This one changes the roles, having a main electric guitar melody and synthesizers accompanying it. Its definitely a great track, deserving of the character it honors. Most other tracks follow the same formula and style, but they never become tiring or boring. Each one has a memorable melody and a unique arrangement, so they hardly sound the same.
Since we are into rock territory, “Irregular Mission” is the new Ikari Team Theme. It is kind of a disappointment, because previous Ikari themes used to be heart pumping and aggressive hard rock anthems. This one lacks a lot of the personality and rawness of its predecessor, but it’s still a pretty cool track, managing to be memorable because of its focus on jazz elements. It is slow paced, but still kind of effective and enjoyable. Ironically, the Fatal Fury theme, which historically has been all about jazz, is much more about rock this time. It is a great track, filled with saxes, electric guitars and synths, making for one hell of a fun and memorable melody. “Tame a Bad Boy” and “KDD-0063” are also two other great synth rock tracks, managing to have great melody and rhythm, done in the unique style of the series’ music.
As you can see, this album doesn’t go wrong in the aforementioned rock style. But that doesn’t mean all the tracks are like that. For example, “Purity Soldiers”, just like all Psycho Soldier themes, is an electronic track that is more reminiscent of J-Pop. It’s very fun and enjoyable, and it sticks in your head with a memorable synth melody. “Kyokugen Training” is influenced by martial arts — slow paced, filled Japanese ethnic instruments, and with guitar melodies thrown in for keeping the style of the album constant. I must say that the traditional instrumentation mixes very well with the electric guitars, and it sounds very good, staying true to the spirit of the Art of Fighting themes.
“Stormy Saxophone 5” and “Who is Queen?” are both great jazz compositions. The former stays true to the older themes by featuring a cool, smooth, and almost sadistic sax melody accompanied with electric guitars. Along with “Esaka Continue”, this one also deserves the name it honors. The latter is a very lively and beautiful jazz composition, representing the Women’s Team. Of particular note is the amazing jazzy piano that complements the main theme rather well and makes it even more memorable. I consider this one of the highlights of the soundtrack. “Each Promise” meanwhile is a very interesting track. There is a very aristocratic flavor in this theme, since it is also the Elizabeth’s Team theme. The main melody is played by a violin in an almost cheerful way, and is complemented later with an electric guitar, giving it a more tragic tone. The whole track features techno beats offering a nice rhythm. It’s a cool combination of elements that flawlessly works, despite its notable contrast to the rest of the soundtrack.
The first disc saved the best for last, because the closing tracks are completely mindblowing. “Fate” is an incredible epic composition, with a mix of classical and rock music. It starts with an almost militaristic intro, then it slowly increases its pace. Soon, a grand piano is introduced, playing an incredible dramatic and menacing melody. Not losing any time, the track explodes with a storm of blazing electric guitars playing a tragic melody, and all this while still accompanied by the piano. It’s a very beautiful and powerful theme. Next, there is what I consider the best composition in the album, “Diabolosis”. Epic guitar solos start the track, slowly building to the climax. After a minute of incredibly heart-felt solos, the main track begins; the melody is absolutely amazing, the instrumentation and arrangement fantastic, and the mix of rock, gothic, and techno elements is totally flawless. It’s a typical “final struggle” kind of track, but its definitely one of the best that you can hear on that category. After that ride of epicness comes the short staff roll track, saluting and thanking you for listening to the album. It’s a sweet and cool composition, keeping the same synth rock style of previous tracks, and closing the first disc in a slightly melancholic note…
…And for good reason, because the entire second disc is filled with ending themes and jingles. Given the in-game limitations, every track is short and barely reaches the one minute mark. There is nothing terrible in here, but also nothing worth listening repeatedly, or even memorable for that matter. It’s a serious problem, considering that the soundtrack could have done without this second disc completely. Also, there is a slight problem with the mastering of the album. Everything sounds crisp, clear, and perfect, but sometimes there is some noticeable clipping, as a result of the producers trying to make the album too loud. It’s not a major problem, but sometimes it can be distracting.
Nevertheless, The King of Fighters XIII Original Soundtrack is still a wonderful listen. Although the second disc is redundant filler, the first disc features some of the most awesome themes that you will hear in a fighting game. It entirely stands on its own feet, but it doesn’t disregard the roots of the franchise. In many ways, it pays tribute to the older albums in the series, but at the same time, it offers something new and modern, much like the new Falcom albums. If you can ignore some of its flaws, you will find this to be one of the coolest albums of the year, mixing everything that is awesome from fighting game music into one intense and varied listening experience.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by George Capi. Last modified on August 1, 2012.