The Last Remnant Premium Soundtrack
The Last Remnant Premium Soundtrack
November 20, 2008
Buy Used Copy
The Last Remnant composer Tsuyoshi Sekito is especially well known for his rock-based treatment of battle themes. He has received acclaim both for his entertaining battle arrangements on The Black Mages and Romancing SaGa along with his intense original compositions on Brave Fencer Musashi and Dawn of Mana. Featuring nothing but battle themes, The Last Remnant Premium Soundtrack provided a moderately anticipated fan bonus with the game’s Xbox 360 bundle. Yasuhiro Yamanaka arranged and implemented 11 battle themes from the game into a non-stop 17 minute medley. How do the battle themes fare against Sekito’s others? How well is the album presented?
Right from the normal battle theme “Clash of Opposites”, it’s evident that Sekito has developed his approach to composing Dawn of Mana‘s battle themes in The Last Remnant. He creates a compelling wall of sound involving rapid drum kit beats, dissonant string crisis motifs, and aggressive rhythm guitar riffs. This approach is largely maintained throughout the battle themes featured here, though certain features are added to distinguish each theme. “Sliver of Hope” and “Press to Victory”, for instance, showcase Sekito’s characteristic eerie and echoing synthesised choral work. Other pieces see Sekito put orchestral instruments at the forefront — “Flamedrop” including one of his commanding trumpet solos and “Out of Control” featuring string work more epic than others. However, few instruments in these rhythmically focused works are used to offer melodically memorable material.
The transitions between each piece tend to be brisk and range from the ingenious to the clumsy. The build-up at the end of “Clash of Opposites” helps to introduce the more intense “Flamedrop”. However, the new piece is uniquely defined by the addition of heavy electronic beats so the change is still quite apparent. Also memorable is the way an awesome drum roll projects the transition from the relatively low-key “Sliver of Hope” into the furious beat-heavy “Sword Sparks” and how the last featured battle theme “Beat the Odds” is projected by a short pause. On the other hand, the approaches to “Reversal!”, “Press to Victory”, and “Out of Control” are very jarring. Nonetheless, these interruptions do help to define each entry and provide some breathing space. There is also something quite enthralling about the hard rock melody that suddenly introduces “Turn the Tidel” so not all the abrupt transitions are clumsy.
Probably the best additions to the soundtrack are those that feature solos from Tsuyoshi Sekito’s electric guitar. “Struggle Eternal”, “Reversal!”, and “Press to Victory” are refreshing as they feature short-lived solos that offer among the most melodic moments on the album. The flashy guitar solos of “The Gates of Hell” and “Turn the Tidel” provide an interesting feature above the dense orchestra and percussion work. There is a slight intensification of the album as it approaches its conclusion culminating in the exuberant use of the tremolo arm in “Beat the Odds”. “Beat…” is probably the most motivating and melodic battle themes of the set and features some great rhythmical features too. However, the album simply ends after it is played, as if Yamanaka had no time to conclude the album. Perhaps the final battle themes were also intended to be included here but were omitted shortly before the album was printed.
On first listen, The Last Remnant Premium Soundtrack can be quite disorientating. It feels like a neverending series of fast blaring themes with plenty of rhythm but little melody or harmony. When clustered together, the formulaic nature of Sekito’s rhythmically focused battle themes is really obvious. The transitions are largely effective at distinguishing pieces while maintaining a fast pace, but it still requires quite a lot of concentration to identify themes emerging from the continuous noise. With more familiarity, short sections of the promotional soundtrack stand out as being quite enjoyable, particularly where Sekito’s electric guitar solos are showcased. Nevertheless, these battle themes lack the breathing space and full playtimes needed to really shine. The concept of this promotional soundtrack seems incompatible with Tsuyoshi Sekito’s compositional approach, but hopefully the full soundtrack will be a more diverse and enjoyable experience.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.