Söldner-X 2 -The Last Chapter- Tracks
Söldner-X 2 -The Last Chapter- Tracks
East Asia Soft
June 2, 2011
Buy at Official Site
After pioneering electro-orchestral hybrids on Söldner-X: Himmelsstürmer, German composer Rafael Dyll was brought back to compose for the sequel, Söldner-X 2: Final Prototype. After a few months, a new scenario entitled Söldner X 2: The Last Chapter was released as downloadable content. Rounding out the Söldner-X 2 soundscapes, how does the music featured in Last Chapter fare?
The album opens up with “Through the Barrier,” the eighth stage theme. This is definitely one of my favorite stage themes in the entire series’ music. It manages to capture the essence of Söldner-X through its creative fusion of sounds. Dyll incorporates many retro sound effects into the accompaniment as rhythmic devices, hinting at the old school roots of the game’s design, whereas the trance accompaniment also helps bring a nice ethereal, spacey atmosphere to the mix. I’m also a big fan of the brass components of the composition, as they give off an extremely heroic and worldly vibe, while the other orchestral components help contrast the upbeat atmosphere with some more sinister undertones. This is easily one of the series’ strongest compositions.
The stage eight berserker theme, for when you are critically low in health, “Break n’ Dance” also manages to capture the essence of the original soundtrack, for a few reasons. This berserker theme is very reminiscent in style to “Escape,” the stage six berserker theme on the main soundtrack, due to its catchy dance beats and trance elements. However, the highlight of this theme is the reincorporation of the piano melody from the stage one theme, “Sector Zeus,” providing a nice thread that ties these two soundtracks together. There are also some darker moments in the electronic components of the piece that give off that dire sound. The stage eight boss theme, “Minion at Arms,” has a very sinister sound without the need of a bunch of heavy sounds. Dyll’s manipulation of the synthesizer provides an evil, warped sound, especially due to the synthesizer bends featured throughout the composition. The beats, while intense, are never too abrasive and help accentuate the overall atmosphere. The track, however, does have its hopeful moments, particularly due to the heroic sound in the B section with the ascending synth punches, and the tribal percussion that opens up the track helps tie together the worldly sound featured in the respective stage theme.
The stage nine theme, “Battleship Encounter,” serves a dual role, both as the stage theme and as the boss theme, given that the stage is, in essence, one giant boss battle. I think tracks like this have a major barrier to cross, being that they must convey a sense of omen, yet, at the same time, provide a catchy hook that manages to capture the essence of a stage theme’s more upbeat vibes. Fortunately, I think that Dyll manages to capture this fantastically through the tracks progression. Heroic, upbeat synthesizer passages lead way into darker electronic passages full of electronic garbling, intense synth passages with some of the catchiest drum rhythms of the series to date, and ethereal synthesized choral samples. It is a truly marvelous tune that manages to straddle the line between good and evil, capturing the very essence of the situation the player is thrust into. The berserker theme for this stage, entitled “Sector 94,” understandably, is much more sinister and gloomy. Ominous electronic tones, both in forms of melody and accompaniment dominate the soundscape, providing a very chilly and dire atmosphere. The incorporation of orchestral components really helps to give the track a more organic touch, when used, and that slight touch of hope. This is definitely my favorite of the berserker themes on this album.
The final stage theme, “The Void,” is another wonderful composition that has that determined, adventurous sound as if your journey is almost at an end. However, the heavily industrialized soundscape, particularly in the accompaniment, helps to provide that sense of evil lurking. It’s a wonderful touch that really makes the composition stronger. One of my favorite parts of this composition is in the trance accompaniment. The manipulation of the synthesizer is very reminiscent of my late friend Ryu Umemoto’s compositions and help to provide a lot of additional energy to the mix. The subsequent berserker theme, “Altered State,” is a giant ball of fun. It has an intense dance beat, ethereal electronic samples, and a rave-type sound that really manages to set itself apart from many of the other berserker themes featured in the series. While it isn’t as melodically focused as some of the other themes on the album, it manages to make it up with the copious amounts of energy provided through the manipulation of the actual melody line.
The final boss theme “Overlord,” in my opinion, is the pièce de résistance of the soundtrack. Listening to it is like traveling through time to an era of game music that is all but forgotten except but a select few. The retro-laden soundscape is a marvel and immediate brings to mind the classic sounds of the Streets of Rage series, particularly in the beats, mixed with sinister and tones produced on Commodore 64 systems. It captures the dire atmosphere wonderfully and that synthesized melody provides a haunting atmosphere to the track. The B section features some militaristic percussion, ethereal synthesizer, and some interesting rhythms and retro vocal samples. The album closes an instrumental version of the Epilogue, to avoid story spoilers, and provides a heroic atmosphere through the use of synth choral samples, crystalline synthesizer, sweeping orchestral sounds, and brooding piano. It’s the “low-light” of the album, but is a beautiful way to end the album and really fits with the series’ more cinematic moments.
In the end, the Söldner-X 2 -The Last Chapter- Tracks digital EP is well worth purchasing on SoniqFactory’s bandcamp page. For only 1.99 Euros, the 25 minutes’ worth of music is almost given away. It features some of the strongest compositions in the series yet and pays homage to earlier styles and melodies in the series, as well as classic gaming systems. All in all, it ends the series on a very strong note. If you are a fan of the series’ music so far, it’s definitely something to be heard and for those unsure if they’d like the compositions, or those new to Dyll’s music, you can stream the album on Bandcamp first to preview it. It definitely has me excited for Dyll’s upcoming Rainbow Moon and Gunlord soundtracks, despite them being in different styles and genres of games.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on August 1, 2012.