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Sin and Shin's Music Review

Welcome to the music review at RPG! Our goal is help people see the soundtracks they listen to in a better light as well as well as help the rpg music lovers out there know what to get and know what crap they should stay the hell away from before they're stuck listening to something so bad, they'll want to drive ice picks into their ears to relieve the pain. This week in the spolight is the breathtaking Xenogears soundtrack! Sorry folks, no samples this time, Dragon God's having problems with his computer, so he wasn't able to rip anything.

To view our previous reviews, check out the archives

Sinistral Shinryuu
Another great piece of work from the creator of the Chrono Trigger soundtrack! Though there's a clear resemblance in the styles taken in both soundtracks, it doesn't take away any of its greatness. One of the things I really liked about this soundtrack is how it wasn't as techno as say, FF8. This clearly isn't anything by Nobuo, however great a composer he is, though I'm not too fond of the Bulgarian chorus Mitsuda uses... What makes this soundtrack really great are all the fine little details that were put into, details most people don't consciously hear unless they pay close attention.

The first disc is probably the better of the 2. However, both have their share of very good songs. Light from the Netherworld is a very fitting and dramatic introduction to Xenogears. It portrays the grave intensity of the scene. The 2nd song on the soundtrack,Star of Tears, was one of the first vocals that I ever liked from a video game soundtrack, which is understandable considering most of my experience revolved around CV SotN's horrid "I am the Wind". The overwold song "emotions" is a mellow, wordless, but enjoyable remix of this.XG has some very good mellow songs. The first is "bonds of sea and fire", which is a sad version of the ship theme, which is "Leftovers from the dreams of the strong". Both are very good songs, the latter being having a heroic feel to it. The drum work might remind some people of the Grandia Castle theme at first. Most of the intimate or sad songs, such as "shattering egg of dreams", a music box style song, have some resemblance to the vocal on CD 2 ,"Small of two pieces" which refers to the relationship between Fei and Elly. Though Small's a good song, its remixes sounds a lot better imho. Xenogears also has very good action songs, though "one who bares fangs at god" , however cool the title sounds, was a big disapointment to me after listening to the great "Stage of Death" and "knight of fire" battle musics. Stage doesn't sound that great at first, but it builds up and it keeps building up so it sounds really cool. Knight of Fire is a more militaristic fight song, that is very appropriate for the Gear fighting that goes on during the game. It has ups and down, kinda like being in a storm , you go through the eye and its really calm and then it starts off again. That sounded really corny, but its like that and its what makes this one of the best fighting songs I've heard. CD 1 has "fuse" and "steel giant" which are the tense songs that most people refer to on the XG soundtrack. They're both very facepaced and like most of the soundtrack itself, it has a lot of percussion to it, which makes it really neat to hear. For people who've played Xenogears, "Tams, the man of the sea" is a classic. Everyone loves the captain who likes to fire "the big gun" and say "I AM A MAN OF THE SEA!!!" with a big gong noise in the background. Its so corny, it has to be one of the greatest lines in any RPG. The song reflects the Captain's personality perfectly, so it just brings back some good memories. If not for him, this song just sounds like a clutter of metal tools sometimes. The last song on the first CD is "the blue traveler" which is probably one of the best heroic themes out there. The drum work, the trumpets, the synth, it all comes together for the perfect celebration music. Though there aren't that many bad songs on the soundtrack, Nisan's themes, "singing in the gentle wind" and "the wounded shall advance into the light" annoy the bloody hell out of me.

The second CD isn't all that great. Its a bit more mellow than the first CD, much more serious, like the second CD of the game itself. The opening song, "Ship of Regret and Sleep" is usually played in the big story sequences of the later part of the game. It has a sad tone to it, but Mitsuda's choice of instrument gives off just the right mood. Anyone who played CT will just think of Zeal's "Time Circuits" when they hear "Shevat - the wind calling". Its not a bad song, but its not that good either. Its kind of a mix of schala and time circuits, which doesn't work too well. "The sky, clouds and you" is a very annoying song about the home of the chuchus in Shevat. I just can't think of anyword that can describe it other than pokemon. Not pokemon music, but pokemon style cuteness. It disturbs me. One of my favorite mellow tracks on the whole soundtrack is Id's theme, which is "the one who is torn apart". Its mysterious and dark, just like Id. It reflects inner pain, which is neat. Though I don't like Small of Two Pieces, I think DG exagerates by degrading it to the Celine Dion level. I am the Wind is there, Small is just a bit sappy and the words seem a little forced into the melody.

This is a great soundtrack, a definite must for any music fan. It has great songs for all tastes, whether its the active fast beat style of "fuse" or the mellow "shattering egg of dreams", this has it all.

Xenogears was Yasunori Mitsuda's first solo project, and the results are nothing short of outstanding. Xenogears easily ranks among some of the best music that Squaresoft could have ever produced, for it, Mitsuda has used a completely diffrent approach : a bulgarian chorus appears in many tracks, which makes Xenogears stand out from the usual Square fare. For now, I'll describe both disks, take in mind that it is a much more enjoyable experience to listen to the OST itself while reading this.

Disk 1 General Review :

The opening anime sequence was breathtaking, " Light from the Netherworld " , the music accompanying it is so good, this is how RPG introduction themes should be, powerful and filled with emotion, we also get that chorus I spoke of, which intensifies the beauty of this track. Another very good track, " Bonds of Sea & Fire " is very enjoyable with it's soft flute in the background, and makes for a great opening in the game. Is it just me or does " My village is Number One! " sound alot like " Millennial Fair " from Mitsuda's last masterpiece, Chrono Trigger ? It's one of the best town themes ever and has a Celtic/Scottish sound to it, something we don't hear often in the latest RPGs…. The first battle track we get is " Steel Giant ", wonderfully orchestrated and easily shows the danger when Fei was fighting invaders with that Giant Mech. For dungeon themes we are getting some very original pieces, one for example is the awesome " Forest of the Black Moon ", mysterious, yet beatiful and yet epic, it's easy to imagine yourself running about in that forest, it couldn't had gotten a better theme. " Shattering Egg of Dreams " however, is very sad, everytime I listen to it, I renember that saddening scene of Fei getting banished from his village for unwillingly killing a few people while trying to defend against invaders, very sad indeed. The second town theme, " Daijiru : City of Burning Sands " clearly has an arabian sound to it and when the chorus joins in it gets better, it's quite original for a town theme. Yasunori Mitsuda has never dissapointed with Map themes, we are presented to " Emotions ", it's easily among the best map themes ever, it's happy and serene, I often just got out on the map just to listen to it =) Next is the villain theme, " Graaf, Emperor of Darkness " defenitely fits the villain here, it's a dark and brooding song, but a great one rivaling Chrono Trigger's Magus Theme and Final Fantasy 7's Those Chosen by the Planet (Sephiroth's Theme). Another example of a track containing shades of a track from previous games is " Leftovers of the Dreams of the Strong ". The first 25 seconds sounds exactly like " Commander in Training " from Final Fantasy Tactics, although it changes completely after the 25 seconds and becomes another winner track. Now for the regular battle theme, " Stage of Death " sounds alot like something you'd expect in Final Fantasy Tactics, but it has more beat than the classical battle themes in FFT, is it enjoyable ? Oh yeah !! 8D That pretty much covers the goodness in Disk 1, but there are far more treats in Disk 2.

Disk 2 General Review :

Disk 2 starts with " Ship of Regret and Sleep ", here we get some more chorals, and the religious feel that Xenogears holds starts here. Next up is " Jaws of Ice ", which is probably another dungeon theme, which sounds a bit creepy, but still is an enjoyable listen. Now for the boss theme, " Knight of Fire " is another winner in Xenogear's battle themes, at the end there are some voices, but it's impossible to make out what it says, you'll also notice that it has it's share of trumpets and drums, very good beat + very good melody = one hell of a good boss song =) " Shevat : The Wind is Calling " sounds alot like the Enhasa theme in Chrono Trigger, at least in it's first few seconds, it's a lovely theme and it still stays stuck in my head ;) " Wings ", is by no doubt the airship theme ( I'm assuming there is one ), This is the very best airship theme I've heard so far…. " Pray for the People's Joy " is a very good organ piece, rivalling Ms Shimomura's best in Live A Live and Parasite Eve. " Omen " changes completely the feeling of religion to fear and evil, it builds up for….. " Awakening ", the first of the last boss themes. After a while the chorus joins in, making it among the more memorable final boss tracks. The last of the final boss themes, " One who Bares Fangs at God ", is undoubtfully one the most bizzare last boss themes I've heard, it's slow, contains very little melody but by the time the chorus joins, it makes up for lack of melody, if I could actually get to that point in the game, it would probably help me more in appreaciating it's beauty and originality. The ending theme, " Small of Two Pieces ", is one among the good vocal tracks, unlike a certain SOTN vocal, is it just me or does it sound strikingly similar to Celine Dion's " My Heart will go on " in the movie Titanic ??

Well, to conclude my review, Xenogears OST is defenately worth getting, although I'd highly reccomend you play and beat the game first (unlike me =P ). And each track (excluding the intro and ending themes ) play twice, so go and get it while it's still available.