Yakuza 5 Original Soundtrack Vol. 1
Yakuza 5 Original Soundtrack Vol. 1 (Ryu ga Gotoku 5 Yume, Kanaeshi Mono Original Soundtrack Vol. 1)
December 5, 2012
Buy at iTunes
Yakuza 5 Original Soundtrack Vol. 1 (or Ryu ga Gotoku 5 Yume, Kanaeshi Mono Original Soundtrack Vol. 1 in Japan) is the first of a two-volume soundtrack released digitally for Yakuza 5. As per the usual, it features compositions by a large number of Sega artists, and for the most part keeps with the style of the Yakuza series in terms of music. This volume mostly includes action tracks for battles and action sequences, though it also has the new main theme of the game and a few other story-relevant tracks. Although its marking as one volume may lead listeners to think of it as one disc of music, it actually clocks in at almost two hours worth of material.
The soundtrack starts with the new theme song, “Bloody Moon” performed by the band GOSPELS OF JUDAS. It’s a solid J-rock track, and the male vocalist sings with a rather interesting light tone that still manages to match the intensity of the band around him. It’s also nice that he sings in his native Japanese, but it’s a shame that it is only the shortened game length track, rather than the full song (released on the separate Yakuza 5 featured songs). I much prefer it to some of the previous game themes. Also important on this volume is “The Battle for the Dream” which shares a similar aesthetic to “Blood Moon”, sans vocals. It also has a pop composition and a more positive sound to it, and it is also full length track. Solid, but I think it would have been really great with vocals. “Receive You and Slash You” is yet another incarnation of the series’ staple, and here it appears as an instrumental rock track with some piano and strings. It’s not a very standout version of the track (even rather unrecognizable at certain parts), but it isn’t bad either, carrying sufficient energy throughout. The closing “Each of their dreams” avoids the cinematic trope and opts instead for to be a closing rock track, though strings do come in later to help give it a more positive spin (and the lead violin is great). Again, it would be great with vocals, but otherwise it is a fine track, keeping things changing over its runtime to stay fresh.
As for the rest of this volume, a vast majority of it covers the rock battle themes and similarly-styled songs. Not being thematically tied together, each track has its own riff that it builds off of, usually a bit of soloing, and a generally a very polished sound and high energy throughout. It’s what we’ve come to expect from the series, but unfortunately there isn’t a lot of variation, and at five mainline entries, the sound does get tiring. Further, as a whole this volume feels much more homogenous than its predecessors did. That isn’t to say that any of it feels bad, as it all still works wonders within the game in terms of pumping up the player, but it makes it harder to warrant a purchase for listen outside of the game for those who have been following the series up until this point. So while there are still tracks that are a lot of fun like the synth heavy “Hailstorm”, the emotional “The Mutual Fists”, or the more dramatic “36Strings Nocturne”, it all tends to get lost in the series’ growing catalogue of music.
The few tracks that break the mould include “A desperate run”, a continuation of the smoky-jazz infused tracks from previous games. This one feels a bit funkier than the tracks found in the last game, and it also ups the chaos factor, having a lot going on throughout from the brass, piano, bass, synth, and percussion. It also carries some quieter moments which offer a nice breather. “The Hermit of the Frozen North” has a more moderate tempo with Middle Eastern influences all throughout from instruments to composition, while “Leo the Aristocrat” returns to the upbeat electro-rock sounds but nicely carries some of that influence over a bit more subtly throughout. “Bright eyes” brings in orchestra support for a tense cinematic atmosphere that is driven well by rock percussion. “Run through the Silver World!” is one of few predominantly electronic tracks, though it also has strings for tension. It’s a great combination, and is a track that I particularly like on the album. “Battle of Pride” and “The Pursuit of Speed” are from the high-speed driving segments, and appropriately are in a Eurobeat style. Not a ton happening from a melodic standpoint, but they still have good energy and colour the soundtrack a bit.
The few quieter tracks on the volume are all atmospheric. “The Hearts of theirs” is the new title BGM, following the style of its predecessors but still distinct thanks to a heavier emphasis on acoustic instruments such as piano and strings while still keeping the ethereal synths and spacious percussion throughout. The later “Knowledge of the Hunter” carries a similar sound, here with an electric guitar assisting. “Kinpakukan” is an electronic track that later on brings in strings. Though quiet, its busy percussion keeps it from slowing down the soundtrack too much. “Fukitsuna Yokan” is similar but more ominous, though perhaps a bit too empty as a standalone listen. “Mousou Game” is a nice ethereal track with a dreamy and calming sound, with blips and samples floating all around. Though strong with atmosphere, none of these tracks admittedly carry much that makes one want to revisit them, as they lack strong melodies or particularly unique elements.
Yakuza 5 Original Soundtrack Vol. 1 is more of what we’ve come to expect from the series, which is fine for the purposes of the game but makes it harder to recommend as a standalone purchase for those who already have a lot of Yakuza series music. Its lack of strong melodies is the central problem to this; even though individually the tracks are all very nicely polished and are fun to listen to in the moment, there is little memorable about them that helps them stand out from among the other tracks. There are no surprises, so depending on what you are looking to get out of this soundtrack, that can be a good or bad thing. It does come at a fairly cheap price given the large size of the soundtrack, so it doesn’t really hurt much to pick up the whole thing, especially for a fan of the game.
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Posted on July 6, 2016 by Christopher Huynh. Last modified on July 6, 2016.