Valkyrie Profile -Covenant of the Plume- Arrange Album
Valkyrie Profile -Covenant of the Plume- Arrange Album
November 5, 2008
Buy at CDJapan
When you think of progressive rock, who pops into your head as a quality composer? If you know your VGM, then you’d probably say Motoi Sakuraba! Best known for his work in the Star Ocean series of games, Sakuraba is widely considered to be one of the most prolific and talented composers in all of game music. He took a break from his recent work on tri-Ace’s Star Ocean: The Last Hope to offer us the music to the Nintendo DS title, Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume. The arranged album covers various selections from the original score and a reprise from the original Valkyrie Profile. I was expecting quite a bit of prog-rock on this one, but the final results surprised me. Read on to find out what I am talking about!
The album begins with “Epic Tale of a Holy Death,” a reprise from the original Valkyrie Profile. The original really surprised me when I first heard it, as it is a soft peaceful track that goes against Sakuraba’s stereotypes. As the arrangement progresses, it gets into a more piano-based melody before looping. However, instead of going into the same thing, you hear a bit more power come forth until it finally gets softer until the end. The second track, “A Pronouncement from Hel,” is the first prog-rock track to be introduced. Utilizing quite a bit of instrumentation, it’s not until the half-way point that we see a change. The theme suddenly moves from an upbeat mood to a darker, kind of suspenseful, tone. In my opinion, it’s a very nice touch to the arrangement, and makes up for what some would call “the same old Sakuraba”. The next arrangement, “Music Box Memento,” is pretty much what the title implies. The melody is carried by a darker-growing piano with slight backing percussion in contrast to the original.
Moving on, we have “An Abyss of Niflheim”. This is one of my favorite tracks on the entire album, mainly for its varied orchestral use. Quite a number of instruments carry the overall melody, which gives a suspenseful and dark tone throughout. It’s a very nice break from Sakuraba; if only we could see more of it from him. “Desperate Hymn” does sound exactly like it’s name — sorrowful and lacking. It isn’t until about three quarters of the way through that we actually hear anything interesting, and even then, the section is too short for anything to be salvaged. It’s one of Sakuraba’s disappointing arrangements, which doesn’t happen very often. “Jet Black Killing Shot” makes up for the previous one and offers us a mix of orchestra and prog-rock. The two genres work very well with each other in this theme, and I only wish to hear more of it. This is probably my favroite arrangement on the entire album and easily supersedes the original.
Next, we have “Sight of the Sleeping Serpent,” which sounds kind of odd, considering it sounds nothing like what the title says. This track really didn’t do much for me, but it’s not bad in its arranged form. I just didn’t particularly enjoy it, but I guess it just depends on your own musical taste. By now, I’ve learned not to judge tracks by their title and “Raging Fury” is no different. Before listening, I expected a fast and upbeat progressive rock battle theme. However, what comes through your speakers is much different. Instead, you have a moderately fast tune with what sounds like a mixture of light synth, piano, and various guitars. It’s actually a very interesting piece from Sakuraba, considering his usual tastes. “Emergency Line of Drawn Swords” is another enjoyable prog-rock piece. I don’t think it can compare to the other ones, but it’s nice nonetheless.
The next track, “Memories of Affection,” doesn’t really have a set melody until you get to the middle. Set up by synth and acoustic guitar, backed by piano and strings, there are a few varied sections hear and there. Overall, nothing really special. Closing out the album is “Violent Enforcer” and “Between Distress and Relief”. The first track is a very fast prog-rock piece that uses many elements to make it’s way through it’s five minute time-span. While it is a good track, I was kind of hoping for more orchestral use like “Jet Black Killing Shot” did before, but I guess we can’t get everything. Still, I enjoyed it nonetheless. Finally, we have the closing track. “Memories…” kind of reminds me of the opening, except this one has the sound of a closer to it. It has a nice use of orchestral sound and a surprising use of brass, which helps the composition carry itself along until the end. It’s a fantastic and closing arrangement for sure!
Overall, the Valkyrie Profile -Covenant of the Plume- Arrange Album is a nice and surprising twist from the usual Sakuraba sound. Motoi experiemented a little bit with some of his tracks and, unlike many composers before him, was successful with it. It’s very apparent in tracks like “Jet Black Killing Shot” and “An Abyss of Niflheim”. While I do think some tracks lacked in usual Sakuraba quality, a lot of it is brought back up in the arrangements following them. Still, I think this is one of the better arrange albums I’ve heard, especially from such talent as Motoi Sakuraba. Anyone who is a fan of his work, or is just looking for something new, should definitely give this a listen. I promise that you will not be disappointed in spite of the mediocre original soundtrack. I only hope that Sakuraba takes themes and elements from this album and incorporates them into future scores!
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris McGuffin. Last modified on August 1, 2012.