Melty Lancer Original Soundtrack
Melty Lancer Original Soundtrack
March 25, 1996
Buy Used Copy
Ah, the Melty Lancer Original Soundtrack … clear proof that sometimes the best material comes from the most unlikely of sources. Having seen the anime and being thoroughly unimpressed with it, I wasn’t expecting a great deal from the soundtrack to the game based on the anime. Upon listening to this disc through the first time, I was worried that my low expectations had tricked me into believing this disc was absolutely amazing. To quell this idea, I went back and started listening to some of the more memorable tracks, seeing if they really had “the stuff”. Based on my empirical study, I would like to sum this review up in the following statement: The Melty Lancer Original Soundtrack is one of the greatest arranged albums you can possibly find, as it combines the feel of a space opera and a pop atmosphere together, giving it a very diverse and unique feel, and any game music fan worth their salt needs to give it a serious look.
Don’t be mislead by the Original Soundtrack mark, as this is clearly an arranged album, dripping with solos and melodic interludes around previously-laid killer melodies. For further proof of this as an arranged album; consider that this disc is nearly 9 years old and the sound quality far surpasses many of the original soundtrack albums released today. The overall style of this disc is tricky to pin down. As with the cast of the series, there is the consistent theme of light-hearted cuteness that runs throughout the disc, as the style of melodies present should be a welcome listen to any fan of old-school game music. However, this theme is built upon with a handful of tracks that exude a serious, “spacey” ambiance to them and others that bust out the guitars and rock the house down. The styles present here include rock, jazz, j-pop, orchestral, techno, piano and straight-up synth pop. With all of these elements in play, it’s possible to see the overall picture of these tracks, but only once you listen to how well everything blends together and how each track stands out individually, do you realize this is a very unique listening experience.
The space opera feeling is the first thing to come to mind, as the first track, “Melty Lancer ~ Main Theme” opens with a series of calm, airy piano synths and later (about 2 minutes in) brings in an accompanying techno beat and later, a series of strings for the main melody. That’s pretty much all of the elements needed for the feel, but both the ambience and main melody work very well together. Once the listener is settled in, much of the rest of the “space opera” feel is done with more of a pop and jazz influence. “Charge” is probably the best overall arrangement on here, opening with a soft combination of a saxophone and piano. Around two minutes in, the instruments fade out and the airy synth orchestra from “Main Theme” comes in and literally carves it’s melody directly into your head. Just when you think the arrangement is over, an electric guitar comes screaming in about 2 minutes later and the jazz influences take over where the orchestra fades out, giving a trumpet-driven version of the main melody. The orchestra comes in at the end and handles the last three notes, concluding one of the most schizophrenic and one of the best arrangements I’ve ever heard. Both “Angela” and “Sylvy” feature the same airy synths, but they are both driven by catchy, upbeat melodies with underlying techno beats and clapping. “Nana” is noteworthy for it’s catchy melody that features the same synths sped up and played through the background. Both the saxophone and the playful drums here make this the perfect mischievous theme. On the opposite end, “Sakuya” is very slow and done mostly with strings and “Melvina” is done with a mournful saxophone, balancing out the other upbeat character themes.
The rock tracks on here are noteworthy as well, as they manage to complement the other pieces, as opposed to trying to steal the show. “Scramble” opens with a series of fierce drumbeats and a melody that flat out screams “Danger! Enemy approaching”. These same drumbeats keep going throughout the piece, even after the electric guitar comes in around the 0:45 mark, and build in intensity along with the lead synth and guitar. The melody changes up about 3 minutes in and is later accompanied by a nice guitar solo to end things. You can tell that “Jun” was originally a strong piece in-game, because I can get wasted off an electric guitar playing a melody this good. A catchy interlude is done with the synths in between the two guitar parts and it comes together as a bright and catchy rock arrangement. This is probably my favorite piece on the album, but also the least creative arrangement… Then again, I’m happy they didn’t play around with this one too much, as it’s pretty much perfect the way it is. “The Last Battle” isn’t quite as intense as “Scramble”, but it definitely gets the blood pumping with it’s techno-driven lead melody and background guitars. Finally, both of the vocal songs on here are of the strong rock variety. “Innocent Soldier” and “OK My Friend” feature the six vocalists who do the characters in the show and make good use of their voices, as each one has their own sections in each song. I’ve personally always been a fan of cute-sounding Japanese female vocalists and strong, pulse-pounding electric guitars together, but I certainly don’t blame anyone not into this kind of music. Still, both songs feature strong melodies and are worth listening to just for that.
The Melty Lancer Original Soundtrack is a very strong album that deserves a lot more attention than it gets. The arrangements manage to expand on the original melodies and complement each other perfectly, despite their diversity. I can think of absolutely nothing wrong to say about this album, aside from the idea that some people might be turned off by its heavy pop influence. In my opinion, this is game music arrangement perfection right here, even surpassing many of my favorite arranged albums in quality. How can I not recommend something that I like more than my favorite Falcom and Konami arrangements? Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy when you get the chance. It’s out of print and it is somewhat rare, but its obscurity should counteract that and you shouldn’t expect to pay much more than $25 for it. Then again, I wonder what would happen if a bunch of people read this review and decide they want it… You might have to pay significantly more if that happens. If that happens, I apologize in advance, but at least then you can share in the glory of Melty Lancer Original Soundtrack with all of your VGM buddies.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Andy Byus. Last modified on August 1, 2012.