Tales of Eternia Remaster Audio
Tales of Eternia Remaster Audio
March 16, 2001
Buy at CDJapan
The Tales of Eternia soundtrack is regarded as one of the lesser instalments of the series musically. While it featured many highlights, there were even more uninspired or short tracks that were not worthwhile listening to out of context. The track listings of the Tales of Eternia Original Soundtrack compounded problems as it tended to cluster poor tracks together and wasn’t ordered in a wide that corresponded with the game. The Tales of Eternia Remaster Audio attempted to resolve some of the problems with the original release. It reorganised the track listings into discreet sections that made a little more sense and also featured some slight changes in synth quality. Released only a few weeks after the original release, the purpose of the album isn’t exactly clear and it still tends to be riddled with problems of presentation…
Although the track order is a little more logical than the previous release, it is not entirely convincing. Rather than beginning with grand if repetitive title theme — rejected to the additional tracks at the end of the soundtrack — the remastered soundtrack jumps straight into the various character themes for the game. This is a good way to introduce many of the main themes, personalities, and emotions of the soundtrack, though also feels a tad abrupt and alienating. “Farah Theme” demonstrates the melodic features that make the Tales series’ soundtrack often so delightful; it manages to be so catchy while also being very personal too. Though not really noteworthy in its original form, “Meredy Theme” is an example of one of the more enhanced tracks on the remastered release. Some of the other tracks in this section are poor, such as the underdeveloped “Chat Theme”, though it’s a decent collection of tracks overall. The excellent theme for Aifread is not included here, but rather in the Celestia section instead. Though this sounds illogical on paper, it makes sense given the context where the composition is used in the game.
The subsequent themes for exploring Inferia are often similar to what one would expect from other Tales soundtracks. “Mintche” is a refreshing and wholly satisfying theme despite its simplicity. Its key feature is its beautiful accordion line, which is well developed musically and sounds even better technically. The emphasis on the instrument is pretty brutal — the accompaniment consists of just harp arpeggios, suspended strings, and exotic percussion — but there is enough variation and originality created by the accordion for it to more than suffice. “Forest of Temptation” is one of the first dark themes on the disc. The timbre this track creates is amazing; a flute melody plays against some atonal synth while a warped sense of purity is given off. This track doesn’t really have any melodic goodness, so will be more of an offering that appeals because of its atmospheric and creative qualities than anything melodic. “Ship” may have a pretty blunt name, but features warm and intricate melodies that are far from dull. Nonetheless, with the theme lasting for a mere 1:11 even in the remastered release, it isn’t a track that will be memorable on first listen, since it doesn’t receive a true loop like it deserves.
The Celestia section spread is spread across the two discs. This ensures that, unlike the Tales of Eternia Original Soundtrack, the highlights are spread fairly evenly and the second disc is worthy listening to as well. This section diversifies the album, although not always in a good way. “Jini”, for example, is a feeble jazzy track; the start of the track is effective enough, but when the slightly improved brass synth is introduced, everything goes kaput. The subsequent “Celestia Ground” would have been a nice and jolly theme, but features some very annoying additions. Moving on, “Seyfert Shrine” is a slow airy track with a variety of orchestral and electronic instrumentation. Sakuraba introduces a lovely secondary section in which the main instrument is given a solo line. “Seyfert Observatory” shares the same melody but places its on the music box. Although it isn’t as good, it still rates as one of the finest on this disc. There are also a few darker themes on the second disc. With an increasing tempo, gradually increasing dynamics, and a repeated motif, “Strange Labyrinth” truly agitating. “Bad Memories” is similar in style, but strings dominate creating a timbre that is very different, offering a very menacing effect.
The soundtrack also features various themes concerned with represented the battlefield. Sakuraba develops these themes far better than any other tracks, perhaps expected given the nature of his battle themes in his other scores. “Ability Test” is filled with the composer’s trademark prog. rock-influenced progressions and energetic drum use, but is also highly melodic, led by a decently synthesized rock organ. While some may have grown bored of the generic Sakuraba battle themes, its light-hearted melody and decent organ solo still make it an enjoyable addition. The next battle theme feature is “Efreet Gorge,” which once again features organ, but differs because of its prominent use of agitated riffs to create a harmony and introduction of a section featuring copious amounts of distortion. It is more typical of a Tamura composition. Another action theme is “Railroad,” which screams ‘old-school game music’ with its light rock melody, driving harmonies, and use of the trumpet that are finely preserved in the remastered version. It offers a fun ‘let’s kill all the enemies’ feeling that one could only ever associate with game music.
The redesign of the soundtrack ensures that the climax is better prepared. “Below Regulus Knoll” features prominent sound effects and a slow moving bass to represent a foe getting increasingly closer. It proves to be an excellent representation of a dark dungeon overall. “Farah,” an arrangement of “Farah Theme,” is definitely the best track on the disc. The power of the bass and the strength of the melody make it delightful; the track glows with grandeur but also has plenty of depth with its gorgeous melodic progressions. “Final Battle” is one of the great disappointments in Tales of Eternia — and not just because its pathetic 47 second length. The atmosphere created in through its hackneyed chromatic progressions is short-lived the instrumentation proving to be completely ineffective. It is still somewhat illogically placed on the album too. While the ending themes for the soundtrack should follow it, there are just a bunch more cheesy or uninspired battle themes. The soundtrack ends with a bunch of miscellaneous themes used for purposes such as events and mini-games. Though many are nonsensical tracks that last for little more 30 seconds, many of which could have been efficiently incorporated into the main soundtrack.
The Tales of Eternia Remaster Audio has many highlight tracks that sound even better with enhanced sound quality. However, it still features all those poor tracks from the original score and still has a problem with horrendous track lengths and missed loops. Worse still, the order of the album tends to be off. Clustering the Inferia and Celestia sections together was a good idea and it is fantastic that both discs are relatively enjoyable this time. However, the random introduction and rambling finish are really problematic and, at some points, even more disappointing than Tales of Eternia Original Soundtrack. When the improvements in presentation are so minimal, one has to wonder why this album was published at all or why the record label didn’t spend time giving the score a well-structured four disc soundtrack release instead. This release is slightly more recommended than the original, but it’s a toss-up really and there is certainly no release to own them both.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Dave Valentine. Last modified on August 1, 2012.