Toukiden Original Soundtrack
Toukiden Original Soundtrack
KOEI Tecmo Games
August 28, 2013
Buy at CDJapan
The Toukiden Original Soundtrack, composed by Hideki Sakamoto, with portions arranged by Keisuke Itou, features a very traditional Japanese sound to accompany a Monster Hunter-esque game about slaying demons. How does this work compare to some of Sakamoto’s more popular scores and does it fit the style of the game?
The album opens up with “The Age of Demons,” presumably the title screen music and also the first introduction of the main theme. It features a frenetic sound full of taiko drums, Japanese woodwinds, and beautiful strings work to create a very engaging theme that gives a nice breadth of the atmosphere you’ll expect to hear on the soundtrack. This theme is featured throughout the soundtrack, however, it is featured in the opening tunes quite prominently. In “The Melodies of Nakatsu –kuni,” it’s a very quaint, rural Japanese sound with plenty of shamisen and shakuhachi tones. “The Melodies of Nakatsu-kuni Again” is a variation of the theme and is more woodwind focused and, in some ways, gives off a more night time feeling. The rendition heard in “Fighters” starts off quite peaceful to establish the main theme, but the rest of the tune takes a more militaristic approach. Lastly, “Oni Utsu Mono,” presumably the credits theme, incorporates the main theme in a very heroic and triumphant manner. It is one of the better renditions of the main theme on the album. There’s also a rock arrangement featured at the end of the soundtrack performed by the noisycroak band TEKARU. While some of the triumphant sound is lost due to the modern instrumentation, it is a fun listen nonetheless and, perhaps a preview of what to expect for their next album.
There are also a hodge podge of other tracks used to convey different parts of the soundtrack, such as events and area themes. “Ephemeral” is a stunning composition that features a wonderful melody that focuses on strings, piano, and woodwinds to create a very warming and beautiful atmosphere. “Memories” is a haunting and beautiful strings-led composition that has a very melancholy tone. “Relief” is another very traditional Japanese sounding piece led by woodwinds and accompanied by strings. It manages to incorporate the main theme with a nice resolved atmosphere. Unfortunately, the area themes do leave a bit to be desired. “The Region of Miyabi” is a very traditional Japanese sounding tune with plenty of shamisen and woodwinds to provide an air of mystery. It isn’t as memorable as some of the other tunes on the soundtrack, but it does provide a nice atmospheric listen while “Kue Mountain” is a much more action oriented piece but one that doesn’t really manage to stand out in terms of melody. However, it does manage to create a nice tense atmosphere and the electronic accompaniment works very well with the frenetic strings and ominous tones of the piece.
There are also some “Art” tracks that work in context of the game. “The Art of War” is an ominous piece that has an air of tension to it with some militaristic influences. However, there is a focus on melody at times that helps provide a slightly peaceful atmosphere. “The Art of Battle” is another piece in the same vein as “The Art of War,” although it is definitely more ominous and focuses more on atmosphere rather than melody. On the flip side, “The Art of Rebellion” is a piece that focuses on woodwind and piano to create a more mysterious atmosphere and focusing less on tension than the previous two Art tunes. Lastly, “The Art of Ancient” features a very traditional Japanese sound with some martial influence. It is one of the better tunes of the Art tracks that manage to engage in terms of overall sound.
Given this is a game about hunting demons, there are plenty of battle tracks to enjoy, some with varying success. The track, “Attack,” comes off as a bit lackluster in terms of intensity, although it does feature a militaristic vibe and gives off a tense atmosphere due to its tempo. Tracks like “Deep in the Abyss” and “Desperate Struggle” give off a bit more of an intense atmosphere, but come off a bit more on the generic side. “Decisive Battle” incorporates the main theme in a great way and despite its slow tempo, manages to create a very tense atmosphere. The boss themes manage to impress much more in terms of creating a fitting atmosphere. “Fire Bird” manages to incorporate heroic brass that contrasts quite nicely with the exotic strings and Japanese flute flourishes interspersed throughout the piece while incorporating the main theme quite nicely. “Snake Woman” creates a tense atmosphere, but also incorporates some more heroic passages, primarily with the main theme manipulation featured in this piece. There are plenty of ominous moments, particularly in regards to how the rhythm of the piece is handled. “Gou Enma” is definitely one of the more frenetic battle themes. Flurries of strings dominate the track with pounding taiko drums in support. However, it does lose some of its creativity compared to some of the battle themes on the album. Lastly, “The King of the Night” manages to close out the battle themes with a fairly impressive soundscape. There is a slight electronic accompaniment that really manages to work with the beautiful incorporation of the main theme with brass and woodwind instruments while the tense atmosphere of a final battle is created through militaristic percussion, ominous choir samples, sinister strings, and Japanese flute flourishes.
In the end, the Toukiden Original Soundtrack is very fitting for the game; however, on a standalone listen, some of the tunes are hard to distinguish from others and the synthesized instrumentation can be questionable at times. It does feature a strong main theme and when it is used the tracks certainly shine, but in the end, this may not be for fans of earlier Sakamoto works where a more personal sound is heard.
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Posted on February 25, 2014 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on January 17, 2016.