December 30, 2010
Buy at Sweep Records
Released at Comic Market 79, Megalomachia 2 is the sequel to the first album released six months earlier. Featuring some reprising composers as well as some new ones, both professional and doujin, it aims to mirror the success of the original with its action-packled original themes. In fact, it doesn’t just mirror the original, but matches to even exceed it.
As with Megalomachia, this album opens up with two consecutive themes by Shoichiro Sakamoto. The first, “Coming out of the Abyss of Sleep,” has a visual kei influence, with ominous bell tones and music box melodies and haunting orchestral and choral tones. It’s another theme that sets the tone for the second theme, “The King of All Demons, Always in Perpetual Darkness,” which is seamlessly transitioned to from the first theme. Similar to “For I am a Jealous God,” it’s a very dark Falcom-inspired theme with a focus on electric guitar and violin, with some nice speed metal accompaniment. There is also a nice bridge that references the tone in the first theme through its use of music box. In the end, I find this to be a stronger than the equivalent on the first album.
“The Hero’s Promise” seems to be a continuation or extension of “Sword of the Hero” from Megalomachia. It’s definitely the best Sakamoto piece on the album. With its intense synthesizer introduction and its wonderful development, which includes more prominent focus of the “Assault from the Evil World” melody from Impetuth, it manages to create a very tense theme with some fantastic synthesizer work. His last contribution, “Scarlet Rose,” is a departure from his normal style. It has a very retro dance vibe and Parisian air to it, perhaps due to the prominent use of accordion. Combine that with some jazzy piano accompaniment and some wonderful percussion rhythm and keyboard work and you have a winning formula. There are also some saxophone and strings harmonies thrown into the mix.
There are also two rock-oriented themes contributed by Eiichiro Yanagi and TERRA. The first, “Burning Destiny” by Eiichiro Yanagi, is cheesy 80’s rock at its finest. It definitely feels like it could serve as an anime opening or closing. The lyrics, while a bit on the cheesy side, manage to provide a very upbeat and jovial atmosphere that does combine nicely with the electric guitar work. This theme may not be for everybody, particularly due to the vocals, but the overall composition is quite strong. “Royal Command,” by TERRA, on the other hand, is more in line with Godspeeds’ contribution from Megalomachia. It features some slick guitar work and a superb melody. There are also some darker vocal samples and passages to give it a bit of an epic sound. In the end, it’s an extremely strong theme melodically and harmonically, but some may find the progression to be a bit lacking.
“SUPER-REFLEX” by Yousuke Yasui is this album’s retro-sounding entry, akin to Shinji Hosoe’s “Overkill Age” from the first album. However, I find this theme to be much stronger. It is definitely reminiscent of his music from Mamoru Has Been Cursed! and, from the trailers, his upcoming score for Eschatos. There is a playful melody that really manages to bring some happier soundscapes to the album and the retro jam session is pretty neat as well. Overall, it’s Yousuke Yasui demonstrating his love for retro music and I think he really does a great job.
Tsukasa Yatoki and setzer bring more electronically oriented themes to the table. “Atrocious,” by Yatoki, is an intense techno with some wonderful synth melodies and harmonies. I really enjoy the trance elements heard in the melody line as well. It brings a bit of airiness to the entire theme. It’s not as strong as setzer’s theme, “Escape from the Nightmare,” but it is quite entertaining. Speaking of setzer’s track, it’s another fantastic electronic theme that features a bit of an electronic groove in the melody line. It’s coupled with a fantastically layered accompaniment ranging from piano, a solid dance beat, and even some trance accompaniment. Towards the end of the theme, there’s also a slow jam jazz session that may seem out of place, but really manages to bring the groove heard in the earlier electronic components to a more accessible and organic layer. It’s quite a wonderful theme, really.
Two very surprising entries to the album are the themes by Raito and Yack. The first, “chaos crawler,” by Raito, is one of my favorite tracks on the entire album. Opening up with some intense techno beats and some climaxing choral notes, it moves into a very hardcore techno theme with ominous choral hits and eerie female vocal samples singing in an almost operatic nature. The combination is truly bizarre, but really manages to sound quite cohesive in the end. I particularly enjoy when the eerie female samples, the male choir samples are combined to accentuate the atmosphere, especially when the female vocals are elaborated upon. Yasuhisa Watanabe’s “Spreading Mystery” is also quite dark in tone. Featuring ominous industrial sound effects and a pretty intense electronic accompaniment, it really sets an almost sinister sound to it. What I find particularly effective about this theme is how the atmosphere is conveyed, not by the industrial sound effects or tense electronic accompaniment, but the orchestral tones that are both ambient and dramatic.
“Encounters,” by Mao Hamamoto, is an intriguing theme, although I wish it went on longer. It combines dramatic and heroic orchestral tones with an industrial electronic accompaniment to give a slightly dark tone. There is, however, a more mysterious and fantastical soundscape that serves as a bridge to the dark orchestral tones and also helps bring a bit of development to the theme. “Hammer of the Dawn’s Thunder ~Mjolnir~,” by Morrigan, is another dramatic orchestral theme. The opening features strong brass and choral notes before moving into a combination of dramatic and regal tones. It would serve wonderfully as a final boss battle theme where the fate of the world was determined by success of the hero. It really portrays an aura of power and in doing so, manages to entice the listener.
The last theme, “Ken, Clenched Fist” by bermei.inazawa, is similar to Takayuki Aihara’s contribution to the first album. However, this is much more experimental, and to some, may feel out of place compared to the other tracks on the album. It has a very jazzy, avant-garde sound to it and is coupled with what sound like punching sound effects throughout the album. There are also some utterly disturbing electronic passages that literally sound like garbled noise, sure to irk most listeners. At other times, there are dark piano passages, crazy vocal samples, and overall a very strong sense of discord throughout the theme. It’s an experiment that will probably be hard to appreciate for most people. I’m still learning to appreciate it though, and there are its moments of genius.
Compared to the original, Megalomachia 2 manages to surpass the original in terms of diversity and creativity. Shoichiro Sakamoto provides a range of gothic, synthy, and worldly sounds. As for other contributions, the electronic soundscapes are dark, intense, and experimental, while the orchestral based themes are quite powerful and portrayed a sense of tension. I highly recommend this album, although the closing track may not make fans out of many.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on August 1, 2012.