Parasite Eve -The 3rd Birthday- Original Soundtrack
Parasite Eve -The 3rd Birthday- Original Soundtrack
December 22, 2010
Buy at CDJapan
Square Enix has decided to reboot yet another franchise in its long line of remakes and spin offs. The PSP’s shooter RPG The 3rd Birthday marks the end of Aya Brea’s ten-year hiatus, as she travels to New York. Fans were overjoyed to hear that veteran composer Yoko Shimomura makes a return for the game’s score, after composing the first instalment’s ground-breaking soundtrack. However, like Xenoblade earlier this year, Shimomura provides a small amount of key compositions and establishes the overall style, while Mitsuto Suzuki and Tsuyoshi Sekito handle the majority of composition. Sekito composes a small part of The 3rd Birthday, after his original involvement on Parasite Eve II as guitar player on Forbidden Power, while Suzuki takes a leading role for the first time on a soundtrack.
Just before Christmas 2010, Square Enix released the soundtrack for the game in a three disc set (sadly lacking in terms of booklet contents). To note, Suzuki stated that additions have been added to some tracks; demos that could not be added to the game due to memory issues. I believe that these demos develop at the end of various tracks or just before the loop, based on initial gameplay videos and comparing to my first listen. Let’s take a closer look at the individual composer’s contributions and how The 3rd Birthday‘s soundtrack stands in the series.
The contribution of head composer Yoko Shimomura sets the signature tone for the soundtrack. Her calmest and most harrowing track on the score, “Brea the Brave” is the main theme of 3rd Birthday and reoccurs throughout most of her tracks. This spinoff of Aya’s Theme reflects the character’s change in personality, since she has lost her memories and is not as tough as she was in the previous games. The piano line isn’t quite the same as the original theme, though it is perfect for the decayed Manhattan. The opening movie music “The Babel: Genesis” contains the motifs of “Out of Phase” and “Brea the Brave” blended into a single cinematic track.
Shimomura also handles many of the action themes in a stylish manner. “Contact, Freeze, Explode” is split in three small movements — first organ-driven, then thematic with a rendition of the main theme, before moving into a crazy piano climax. “Unknown Unknown” and “Insanity of the Enraged” are midboss themes, both of which display chaotic atmospheres. While the latter feels quite ambient with guitar riffs, the latter features more piano-driven melodies. Shimomura also rearranges the regular battle theme “Arise within You” and greatly improves on the original theme, retaining the minimalistic feel, while adding a more upbeat and mature sound. The additional trance infusions really contemporise the track and makes it an addictive and nostalgic listen.
“Pain of Assault” contains a movement from the final boss theme “U.B.”; it was featured as trailer music to the game, and now serves as one of the most memorable battle themes on the soundtrack. “Blue to the End” sounds like it could be the final boss theme for The 3rd Birthday. It builds on techno backbeats, throws in a heroic violin loop, and quickly evolves into an epic guitar wail with gothic organ and beats. Shimomura concludes his portion with a tribute to Bach and a nine minute ending music that contains a few reprises between original portions. The soundtrack concludes with her famous “Primal Eyes” brought dynamically into the 21st century — in the best arrangement this music has seen yet — and the sadly brief rendition fo “Theme of Aya” featured on the official website.
Square Enix’s master of rock Tsuyoshi Sekito lends a hand after his second collaboration with Shimomura on Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. Like her, he composes ten tracks integral to his style. He opens the score with the haunting title theme “From the End”, featuring chiming chords and ringing beats. The rest of his contributions demonstrate surprising versatility. For example, whereas “Bloody Back” is an exciting industrial track, “Come Again to Christmas” is his festive contribution to The 3rd Birthday. In further contrast to his typical style, “dayDreamer” and “Angel’s Time” offer a more relaxed and a jazzy perspective. They are not the strongest tracks on the soundtrack, lacking the length and substance of his more substantial contributions to Gyromancer and The Last Remnant, but at least bring diversity to the sometimes samey experience.
During the course of the soundtrack, there is an evolution in Sekito’s compositions from typical orchestral synth to full blown techno. “Worm” is a good example of the latter — a bombastic, overpowering, and subtly heroic theme similar to his work on The Last Remnant. In contrast, “Desperation” takes the orchestra style of “Worm”, technofies it, and adds a surprising little violin solo before the track repeats. This feature is something I don’t think I have ever heard from Sekito before! Continuing this focus, “Time of Insanity” and “Triumph of Wing” retain this chaotic techno to offer mad and daring soundscapes, while “Ray of Hope” builds on Shimomura’s thematic outlines. “Crimson Eyes” eradicates the electronic focus by returning to an orchestral number, but is a tad bit on the forgettable side. It’s clear that the techno compositions are Sekito’s most fulfilling and revealing contribution to the score.
Finally, we come to Mitsuto Suzuki’s contribution. While he has been been up and coming as arranger in Square Enix’s recent music projects, this is his debut role as a lead composer and he delivers well. He handles most of the area and event tracks, naturally mostly in an ambient and electronic manner. “Investigation of the Past” is Suzuki’s first track, containing haunting choral synth and techno. It is followed by “Beginning of Breeding”, the first area theme, where he blends imitations of Shimomura’s piano motifs with his own aesthetic. The blends of electronic and acoustic forces are achieved beautifully here, reflecting the artist’s background as an expert manipulator. Some may find them too subtle and ambient after the more direct approach of Parasite Eve, though others will consider them a worthy evolution for the series.
Exploring some of his other contributions, “Ruin” conveys an empty tension through cold breezy ambience. It’s clearly inspired by the more hybridised ambient themes of Parasite Eve, but is more modern and stylish. “Dr. Maeda (or How I Learned to Start Loving DNA)” — probably the best title I’ve read for a while — is an eerie industrial track that is strange but is a fun listen. “Cityscapes” features the return of some beautiful string and violin solos, with choral and piano undertones, once again depicting New York in a fascinating manner. Suzuki also inspires reminiscence of the Parasite Eve score with sleak arrangements of “Memory II” and “Out of Phase”. Other tracks, such as “Wait for Combustion” and “Moment of Humanity”, are quite minimal and atmospheric in their approach. These haunting ambient tracks fit the game ideally and have more artistic integrity than Parasite Eve II‘s themes, though may be too sparing to appeal to most out of context.
As for action themes, “Brave New World” exhibits Suzuki’s rock side for the first time. It’s different from the symphonic rock of Sekito — a raw and gritty track only let down by is its short length. “Reaper” is fun battle theme too, blending electronic backbeats with a guitar demo in the second loop. Another great track is “Terminus Zero”, blending discordant violin whirls, backbeats, and the occasional Gregorian chant. Also surprisingly, Suzuki co-arrangers “Escape from U.B.” at the end of the soundtrack, building on the completely repetitive original to yield a much richer theme. Chorals, terrifying brass, bell chords and techno climax grant a new lease of life for an otherwise short-lived original. “Cloud of Aureolin” and the two “Human Seeker” tracks both feature the same motif. The piano-led former is enjoyable with its pulsating rhythms and eerie rock solo, while the chillingly ambient “Human Seeker” and heavier Shimomura-influenced “Battle Side” are among the most memorable moments of the score.
“Dive into Myself” is Suzuki’s main subtheme for the game and it is reprised throughout the score. It features a beautiful violin solo, which was another beautiful revelation when listening to the score. In terms of arrangements, Suzuki builds on the track throughout the score with the likes of “Dive into Myself -Deep Inside-” and “Dive into the Cause”; much like Shimomura did on the original Parasite Eve, he shows a talent for developing a thematically rich core for The 3rd Birthday. However, the rendition at the end of disc three is most impressive. It feels like a Hamauzu finale theme, in fact, and brings all its previous renditions together.
Overall I enjoyed listening to The 3rd Birthday‘s soundtrack. It is a diverse, atmospheric, and well-produced soundtrack that firmly brings the series to the new generation. Each composer brings something to the table — from the personal melodies of Shimomura, to the diverse approaches of Sekito, to the immersive but sometimes unmemorable ambience of Suzuki. While not as heavily thematic as Parasite Eve, it is definitely more memorable than Parasite Eve II. It’s particularly enhanced by the blending of various reprises from Parasite Eve along with some fantastic original battle music and haunting area themes. This soundtrack is a worthy pick up as nostalgia for the game and it’s franchise, and works well as a stand-alone listen with its instrumental diversity and electronic richness.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Christopher Jones. Last modified on August 1, 2012.