Persona 3 Original Soundtrack (US Edition)
Persona 3 Original Soundtrack (US Edition)
August 14, 2007
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Well aware that Shoji Meguro is a star, Atlus decided to include a bonus soundtrack with the American release of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3. It features 18 specially selected tracks from the import release. There are many tracks featured in Persona 3 so it was challenging to find the right ones. Can picking a few songs really match up to the entire soundtrack? Lets see…
The introduction to this soundtrack is a pretty bold one. “Burn My Dread” starts off with some really wicked guitar chords that kick you into a really groovy mood. Punctuated vocals mellow out the entire song while maintaining the grooviness. When the refrain chimes in, the piece becomes plain unbearable for me. Hearing the lady belting out “I WILL BURN MY DREAD” is just plain annoying and really detracted from the experience. At least some powerful brass bolster up the track in this area. As it finally descends to the final section, the piece suddenly becomes bearable to listen to again. The returning theme “Aria of the Soul” contrasts itself completely from the first song. It starts with a beautiful piano introduction and some increasingly intense strings. Not far in, an operatic voice introduces the melody. As the song continues and more strings are introduced, it becomes even richer and fuller to listen to. The track also receives a solo piano rendition later in the score.
“Shadow” is one of the highlights that reflects Meguro’s fusion sound for the score. Bombastic trumpets are brought in here to ensure that this piece is very epic in scope. The piano rattles away quickly to give a brisk pace to the music. Then silence. The hip-hop beat once again rears its head and is incorporated into a unique blend of electronic and classical music. I was really impressed to hear how well everything meshed together here. “Unavoidable Battle” is also some classic Meguro if I have ever heard it. Highly distorted guitars blare off from the start and make the battle feel extremely evident. The guitar work is very impressive and well done. Classic drum kit crashes and snare pounds add to the heavy metal feel.
There is an explicit hip-hop vibe brought out of the woodwork in “Iwatodai Dorm”. When the lyrics bust through the wall of sound, the piece loses its way a bit. That’s due to the incomprehensible sounds of Lotus Juice who is trying to rap; one cannot help but notice that his voice sounds unnaturally deep here as well. More interesting is its relaxing arrangement on the second disc, as well as “Deep Breath”, which blends an industrial electronica style with Lotus Juice’s definition of cool. There’s more J-Rap in “Mass Destruction”. The song seems to have a lot of potential with awesome big band style trumpets blasting and some cool guitar work. However, the song is dragged down once again by incomprehensible Japanese rapping fused with some of the female vocals from “Want To Be Close”. There is a certain amount of grooviness here but again so much wasted potential.
Among other vocal themes, “Changing Seasons” sounds a lot like 1970s electronica and over time more trumpet is thrown in. Clearly Meguro was feeling retro sentiments while composing this song. The vocals are here just sufficient to strike a balance between being very pleasant and annoying. Thankfully they lean more to the pleasant side. Those who listen closely will notice “When the Moon Reaches for the Stars” is a repurposing of “Burn My Dread”. The other lyrics have been completely dropped and replaced with different lyrics. The beat has been sped up and more electronica elements have been thrown in for good measure. “Want To Be Close” is incredibly upbeat and has a really happy tone to it. One cannot help but think of sunny days and flowers when listening to it. The vocals are really nice as well and add to the cheeriness. The only problem here is from the 40 second mark where any trace of the melody disappear and an annoying beat continually drums away. The piano rejoins once in a while, but I feel like a lot of the piece is really just white noise. Sadly it’s more impressive variation “Peace” is not featured here.
Prior to the final battle, “Battle Hymn of the Soul” is a surprising high-octane remix of “Aria of the Soul”. The original arrangement of the song was so powerful that almost any other version would have been deemed a tragedy. This is not so here. Guitars create an almost angry feeling while low brass and strings fuel the fire. The song becomes much faster and has the power of a shotgun behind it. When the piano blares and delivers the melody, it brings back the beauty of the original in a different setting. The female vocals sound a bit out of place with the guitar but, after the strings kick back in, any doubts about the song’s preservation go away. The infernal refrain from “Burn My Dread” also returns for the last battle theme. Thankfully there is something other than the refrain, but unfortunately it comes in the form of underwhelming Japanese rapping. The song is really repetitious and still earns my ire every second I spend listening to it.
The sadness emanated in “Living With Determination” makes this one a gem. Piano once more drives the piece and pieces of “Burn My Dread” are heard throughout in a different key. The background sounds further cement the sorrow created by the piano and the brass makes it feel all the more epic. “Memories of the City” piece begins with a very light synthy intro that gives way to a beautiful piano melody. As the piano begins to ring out softly and slowly, some mellow guitar work and very soothing percussion is added. The piano then takes a back seat to a lead guitar for a while and then switches place once more. “Enduring Bonds” repurposes the motifs of “Burn My Dread” for strings in a sentimental manner. The ending theme “Memories of You” is the closest the album gets to real J-Pop in the album. All of the elements of “Joy” are here but retold with Japanese lyrics. It features hands down the strongest vocal performance on the entire album. This arrangement is quite wonderful with trumpets and other additions keeping the theme interesting.
This disc is a complete surprise. For newcomers of the series, some of the best of Persona 3 is represented here. For people who are familiar Persona, this album will provide plenty to tide you over. It’s certainly a more consistent listen and most of the album’s main tracks are there. The selections are picked amazingly well and only serve to bolster the reputation of the Megaten series. Those who bought the game and feel dissatisfied with the free album could always import the full release as well.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Daniel Jackman. Last modified on August 1, 2012.