August 14, 2010
Buy at Sweep Records
Released during Comic Market 78, Megalomachia is an original album conceived by Shoichiro Sakamoto and released on his Sound Sepher label. Featuring a variety of popular composers in the electronic video game world, it is an album full of various styles and action-packed tracks. Does the album manage to impress given the large number of impressive participants?
The album opens up with a small introductory track by Shoichiro Sakamoto entitled “ORSA.” It has a very gothic nature to it, featuring suspenseful music box, sinister organ work, and lush chorals. It’s a short theme, but does manage to impress in terms of mood. Immediately following this, Sakamoto continiues with “For I am a Jealous God”, which also continues the sinister gothic approach. Organ and powerful choir set the tone for the beginning of the theme before moving into a very dark, Falcom-inspired violin and synth rock piece that provides a bunch of energy, a strong melody, and some wonderful development. If you are a fan of Falcom’s music, like Shoichiro Sakamoto is, you’ll probably enjoy this theme as well.
Shoichiro Sakamoto contributes two more themes to the album as well. Opening with a visual kei inspired introduction of sinister organ, “Light Which Rests on the Dark Path” is an uptempo, yet dark, synth piece with some awesome fading effects in the synth line. The melody is infectiously catchy and I love how the organ serves as a gothic accompaniment, but at the same time, doesn’t make its presence overbearing, letting the synthesizer really become the star of the show. The bridge helps accentuate this gothic influence with its organ and haunting choral approach, but the end result of the entire track is truly exquisite. The last theme by Sakamoto is “Sword of the Hero.” This theme reminds me of Impetuth, particularly the boss theme “Assault from the Evil World.” The motif of the melody in that theme is featured on occasion and helps give a familiarity to those who have heard it. This is definitely a heroic theme with some beautiful elements, such as the simple yet beautiful harmony in the piano line. The melody is strong and the overall progression really lends itself to serve as a battle-inspired theme. In the end, I think that Sakamoto did a stunning job on this album.
Another artist with multiple contributions is setzer. His first theme, “Swaggering Kid,” is a rock theme with some serious punch. There is a ton of energy in this theme and it really manages to continue with the energy created by Shoichiro Sakamoto. There are some synth sections as well that really help add a slick contrast to the rock-oriented theme. The addition of some fantastic percussion and keyboard work really manage to help give it a bit of a progressive tone; however, I really like the solo section as it combines a guitar solo with some very dark vocal samples before moving into a repeat of the main melody. The second theme featuring the MintJam is “R.S.S.” and is technically by the Polo Rockers, a unit consisting of setzer and Takahiro Eguchi. In essence, this is a very modern take on the “Dueling Banjos” type theme. Accompanied by some sweet techno beats, setzer on guitar and Takahiro Eguchi on keyboards manage to create alternating melodies that really manage to bring a unique division among the styles. Some are more mellow and some are much more elaborate, but each passage definitely manages heighten the overall rivalry between synth and electric guitar. It’s truly a stunning theme.
The rock doesn’t end with setzer though! Both Yousuke Yasui and Masahiro Aoki (aka Godspeed) manage to create some thrilling rock themes. Yousuke Yasui’s “ultraviolet” manages to create a very retro sound despite its modern instrumentation. Although the majority of the track is definitely guitar-focused, the addition of a wonderful synth section helps reinforce the retro soundscape and at the same time provide some nice elaboration. In a way, it’s an extension of some of the heavier themes heard on the Mamoru Has Been Cursed! soundtrack. Godspeed, on the other hand, provides an orchestral rock theme entitled “crisis” that was used as an entry for Guitar Idol 2010. While this is technically an orchestral rock theme, the focus on the melody is purely on the electric guitar whereas the orchestra serves as an epic backdrop to the intense melody and guitar work by Godspeed. There is also some excellent keyboard work in the middle. Overall, this is an intense theme and really manages to capture a lot of energy.
ESTi, a Korean composer formerly of SoundTeMP, contributes “Fight or Flight.” It opens up with an electronic rendition of the famous Final Fantasy battle theme bass line, though I’m not sure if this is intentional or not. From there, it moves into a groovy electronic theme reminiscent of his remix on the Power Dolls 1 Resonance soundtrack. It features some nice orchestral harmony as well as a variety of ethereal synth as accompaniment making for a varied theme. Shinji Hosoe’s “Overkill Age,” on the other hand, is a chiptune piece that has a very airy quality to it. The B section is much more interesting than the A section as it adds a lot more development to the piece. At first, it is definitely more jovial in nature, but as it progresses, there is definitely an atmosphere of tension added into the theme. In the end, it’s an enjoyable piece, but some may find the introduction to go on for a bit too long.
Hiroto Saitoh contributes a very worldly piece with “Way of the Wind.” It’s a very Latin inspired theme with some wonderful flamenco guitar and woodwind passages. There is a bit of an oddity in the track, which would be this small section of synthesizer near the beginning that doesn’t recur in the theme, but it does manage to charm. The rest of the theme focuses on violin and woodwind melody lines, however, and manages to provide a nice energy, but at the same time, does so by adding a nice stylistic diversity to the rest of the album. “Fire Dance,” by Norihiro Furukawa, is a beautiful orchestral theme with a vigorous tone. Wonderful, frenetic strings passages are coupled with powerful and moving brass harmonies, chaotic piano glistens in the background, and the occasional choral passage makes for a more powerful theme. This would be a perfect boss theme in an RPG because it definitely displays that ominous, powerful, and tense type of atmosphere you’d expect.
The album closes with the most experimental theme on the album, “Catastrophe UVB-76,” by Takayuki Aihara. Opening with some industrial sound effects, it gives off a feeling of cold and mechanical desolation before moving into some very dramatic and ominous orchestration with the occasional electronic manipulation to make it sound distorted. At times, the orchestration has a bit of a carnival sound, albeit a dramatic one, while at others, they are more baroque inspired with some choral passages. It’s a very different and dissonant theme, but it manages to stay cohesive in atmosphere.
In the end, I think that Megalomachia is a well-crafted album that features a variety of styles. While half of the album is rock oriented, each composer brings their own unique styles to the fold, while the other composers add some nice diversity into the mix. The album is recommended because it manages to let the composers craft something that doesn’t need to fit into the mold of a game they may be composing for, and it leads to some interesting experiments and, perhaps, some self-discovery for some of these composers.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on August 1, 2012.