Monarch -Heroes Of A New Age- Arrangements & Variations
Monarch -Heroes Of A New Age- Arrangements & Variations
Scarlet Moon Records
February 17, 2014
Buy at Bandcamp
“Monarch: Heroes of a new Age” is a new strategy MMORPG created by Maius Games in Korea. The music for Monarch got quite the presentation inside and outside of the game. The majority of the music was performed with live instrumentation, and was released on CD. Along with the original BGM, composer Goomin Nam (better known as Nauts from Korean based Video Game music group “soundTeMP” ) also put together a 15 track arrange album to showcase his powerful music in a different light. Take a look at my review of the Original Soundtrack here. As for the arrange album, does it stand strong alongside the already powerful original soundtrack? Read on to get my answer to that question!
I am going to start with the one unexpected track here. “Gentle Oblivion (Lake Of Oblivion),” one of my favorites on the original album, gets a different take from Gem Impact and Metal Gear solid contributor Norihiko Hibino. It is a duet between Hibino on saxophone and Ayaki on piano. I praised the original for its layering of multiple instruments painting peaceful scenery with a hint of despair poking through. While Hibino and Ayaki striped out the layering, they made up for it by giving both performers a spotlight and expertly fleshing out the pain in the saxophone and the serenity in the piano. This might be a slightly dramatic opinion, but you can feel the two emotions warring with each other. The piano works throughout the song attempting to cheer up the sax. This track needs to play as the definition of “beauty in simplicity.”
Two other guest arrangers join the cast to lend their talents as well. Joshua Morse, known for his work with OC Remix and several indie game releases, takes a stab at the playfully sinister “Wandering Woods.” The original leads off with dark ambience, and slowly becomes more playful (yet still evil) as it progresses. Mr. Morse adds in a marching drum beat throughout the piece, layering in the stringed instruments. This progresses into the use of a viola to carry the melody in leau of Nauts’ full orchestral melody. A very commendable first impression from me to Joshua!
The other guest composer is Dale North (OneUp Studios, Dragon Fantasy Book II). I won’t go into much detail on the original track since it is discussed in the review of the soundtrack, but “Seaside Village” is what North chose to arrange. The arrangement is a little slower than the original, but in turn we get a lot more help from the harmonizing strings and soft percussion. The emotion of the original is left largely intact, if not a bit stronger. The “climax” includes a violin to complete the melody and circle back to the beginning. Overall, an extremely beautiful piece.
Nauts must have a direct link to the pleasure center of my brain, because he chooses some of my favorite work on the soundtrack and arranges each of them in multiple styles. The incredible “Peaceful Macdallena” gets three separate arranges, all of which are glorious! The strings arrange kicks the acoustic guitar off the melody and focuses on, as I’m sure you guessed, the string section! The guitar is still there, but its overshadowed by a ridiculously quiet orchestra and an even quieter choir. The guitar version takes the arrange one step further and sticks with the lone acoustics of the solo guitarist. Lastly, the piano version puts the piano in the lead, but keeps the guitar around for a breathtaking guitar harmony. All three of these arranges are well worth the listen!
The last one I am going to cover is “Glorious Capital, Nineveh.” As I stated in the original soundtrack review, the track makes stunning work of the harpsichord and acoustic guitar walking us down the streets of the grand city of Nineveh. The harpsichord arrange takes the lonely baroque instrument for a spin by itself. Sometimes tracks such as this one lose some heart (In my opinion anyway, the harpsichord is a beautiful instrument but most of the time can’t invoke emotions on its own) but Nauts must have known this and pushed it to the limit. This is quite possibly the best solo tune I have ever heard in regards to the use of the harpsichord. The other arrange of this track is the “piano arrange.” That name is somewhat of a lie. The piano is in the spotlight most of the time, but it hands center stage to a violin on several occasions. That just is not fair! I don’t think there is a more beautiful instrument combo out there than the piano and violin. If you enjoyed the original at all this one will melt your heart!
Overall I would say this is a fairly solid album. I did find myself getting bored toward the end though. Without a significant variation to the style, it can start to sound like the same track over and over again. The album director was smart to place the guest arrangers in the center, as this does help to break up the monotony somewhat. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed every track on this album! Just be aware that there is a shortcoming in the lack of variety. I’d say if you were a fan of the original, give this a try. Just be warned it is pretty much identical to the soundtrack with only minor variations. As a final side note, this arrange collection also includes the game’s vocal theme “Forgotten Archduchess” and the music that was in the trailer during the game’s alpha testing period. Both are decent tracks, but they aren’t anything too special. Still, as a fan of Nauts this was a welcome surprise and one I recommend any other fans of his to give it a try!
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on May 13, 2014 by Bryan Matheny. Last modified on May 14, 2014.