OZ Original Soundtrack
OZ Original Soundtrack
Konami Digital Entertainment
July 20, 2005
Buy Used Copy
In the year 2005, shortly before the release of Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, Michiru Yamane composed the score for Konami’s beat ’em up / action adventure mix OZ (aka The Sword of Etheria). The game has nothing to do with the famous Wizard of Oz and the title literally means Over Zenith. The music is done in a fine way with a mix of rock, electronic and orchestra; that’s why you will hear huge similarities to the two Playstation 2 Castlevania games in form of music. But let’s take a closer look to the rather unknown work.
The soundtrack opens with the vocal theme “Polovtsian Dances ~OZ ver.~”, which is interestingly an arrangement of the opera Prince Igor from the late 1800s, originally composed by the Russian Alexander Borodin. This version features an soft and dreamy orchestral arrangement by Michiru Yamane and tender vocals by Martha Masuda, who performs this piece excellently. The use of piano, bells, and strings is really nice done here.
The following track “Over Zenith” is the first piece of many which recalls memories from the subsequent Castlevania: Curse of Darkness with it’s use of electric guitar riffs, percussion, and synth melodies. It’s a bit short, but I like the track as it’s very nicely arranged.
The next interesting piece is probably “Encounter ~To the Awakening~”. While the first section is very melancholy and serene wih the use of oboe, harp, and strings, the mood suddenly changes after the one minute mark into a gloomy and tense atmosphere with timpani and foreboding strings. Shortly after the two minute mark some woodwinds are introducing us into a pumping bass and percussion line, which gives a nice rockin’ feeling together with light brass chords and harp arpeggios, until it stops suddenly. “Wandering” is an serene orchestral piece which reminds me a bit of the Folklore soundtrack at the beginnng, but it changes from mysterious into a more charming and elegant piece, dominated mostly by lush strings and bell arpeggios. “Together with Eteria” is one of the most beautiful pieces from the soundtrack with warm piano and bell melodies accompanied by strings, synth effects, and light percussion. It’s almost like an ballad or lullaby. Definitely worth of listening.
The main character of the story gets his theme with “Feel’s Theme”, a classic rock number with delicious arrangement. The use of the electric guitar is especially excellent done here. “The Trinity! Let’s Fight” is in similar style, only a bit more focused on the melody with great use of guitar, percussion, synth and piano. It could easily come from Ryuji Sasai and his scores like Rudra’s Hidden Treasure or Final Fantasy Mystic Quest. It’s one of the better battle themes for sure. “Wasteland of Fossils” introduces us into the electronic / orchestral mixes Yamane also used in her previous score. While in terms of melody it is not as strong as other tracks, it’s a nice and pleasant addition to the overall score. “Temple of Unforgettable Indigo” is one of the more unusual and experimental tracks from the composer with extraordinary use of percussion and harmonious such as the sitar at the beginning and the strings in the second half. Definitely one of the more interesting tracks.
Continuing with the more interesting tracks, “Magnificent Battle” is truly a fascinating and wonderful theme. Starting with a strong orchestral note, the piece transforms into a catchy upbeat track with use of piano and strings. When it reaches the one minute mark, a slightly transformed melody from Suikoden IV‘s epilogue theme suddenly appears. It was a real surprise when I listened to this track, but it works pretty well overall. After the some heroic brass fanfares lead the track out. One of the highlights from the soundtrack for sure so don’t miss it. “Memory of the Gods ~Transformation 1~” uses some divine choir passages and humming vocals from Martha Masuda. The first disc closes with two strong rock numbers, both quite enjoyable and worth of listening, but thematically not among the most memorable tracks.
“Overcoming Sadness ~Beginning the Journey~” introduces us into the second disc nicely with an lenghtly orchestral upbeat arrangement of the title theme “Over Zenith”. Sure, it’s very similar to “Baljhet Mountains” from Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, especially the use of percussion and the string line in the background of the drums, but many tracks are reminiscent to this score. After some atmospheric tracks comes “Wingless Angel ~Requiem~”, another good example of electronica and orchestra mixed together with a few opera vocals within. The rest of the disc is pretty much standard quality, from rock based tracks to dance and electronica themes, everything has been heard before already. The three “Theologia” themes are worth of listening.
Moving to the conclusion of the album, “Longing for Sentimentality and Hope” is a beautiful and serene piece of music in similar style as Suikoden IV Ending themes. “Destruction God Squad OZ Rangers” is another frantic rock battle theme with a excellent developement and use of harmonies. The soundtrack ends with an trance remix of the vocal theme “Polovtsian Dances” which is done quite nicely by Naoto Suzuki. The vocals harmonize well with the overall track, but is has lost all the magic and dreaminess the first version had. It’s simply a question of taste, but I personally prefer the remixed version more.
Michiru Yamane delivers a solid soundtrack with OZ and shows again her ability of creating rock and classic influenced themes together with electronica.There is a huge amont of tracks which are reminiscent to her Castlevania contributions, but that doesn’t mean that these tracks are bad. Some tracks stand out from this score, such as “Together with Eteria”, “The Trinity! Let’s Fight”, “Temple of Unforgettable Indigo” and “Magnificent Battle”. She even arranges the vocal theme “Polovtsian Dances ~OZ ver.~” in a dreamy and magical way, which fits very well to the vocals. Other tracks lack on personality and memorability, but they are mostly short tracks used for cutscenes or simply more action-focused numbers. For fans of Yamane this is quite an interesting score to listen to and others should also give it a try.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Max Nevill. Last modified on August 1, 2012.