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Super Robot Taisen Alpha Complete Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Super Robot Taisen Alpha Complete Soundtrack Album Title: Super Robot Taisen Alpha Complete Soundtrack
Record Label: Lantis
Catalog No.: LACA-5050
Release Date: August 1, 2001
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


Super Robot Taisen Alpha is the first game in the second generation of Banpresto's robot saga, originally released for the PlayStation in 2000. As a result of the strong sales and iconic nature of the game, there were multiple albums released featuring music from the game, but none of those were complete on their own. Probably the most satisfying of all the releases is Super Robot Taisen Alpha Complete Soundtrack. Featuring original theme songs, classic anime arrangements, and some original instrumental arrangements, it offers a wide selection of what Alpha's soundtrack had to offer. Despite its name, however, not one section of this album is complete...


In what started a series' tradition, there are two performances by JAM Project to open and close the original PlayStation version of the soundtrack. The opener, "Steel Messiah", is one of their most melodramatic entries to date and perfectly suits the opening animation; expect powerful male vocals crying semi-operatically above rhythm guitar riffs and a particularly loud drum line. Unfortunately, the full version is limited to the single release. The ending theme "Power", is also exclusive to the single and instead listeners receive a solo piano arrangement. Quite beautifully arranged, the piano passages emphasise the reflective, bittersweet quality of the ending.

The majority of the first half of the album is dedicated to instrumental arrangements of anime theme songs from both the PlayStation and Dreamcast versions of Super Robot Taisen Alpha. Most followers of the Super Robot Taisen series will have heard these tracks before in often superior forms. The selections are mostly limited to staple tracks such as Mazinger Z's main themes, Neon Genesis Evangelion's "Decisive Battle", and Mobile Suit Gundam Wing's "Just Communication". It is a little more wide and varied than the selection featured on the Super Robot Taisen Alpha Original Soundtrack & Arrange Album, largely due to the Gundam selection, but is still rather disappointing compared with later games.

The main problem with the anime selections, however, is their arrangements. With the exception of a few minor deviations in the Gundam selection, nearly all the arrangements feature a buoyant brass lead interpreting the melody against simple poppy accompaniment. The resultant sounds are quite charming at first and bring out the original melodies. However, the approach is rather superficial overall and becomes irritating rather quickly; most listeners will have turned off way before they arrive at the themes for Combattler V and Voltes V. Furthermore, while decent for its time, the implementation is quite limiting and only adds to the monotone quality of the first half of the album.

The rather disappointing first half of the album is thankfully redeemed by the original compositions. Following a dubious introduction with the poorly arranged instrumental version of Koji Hayama's "Enraged Spirits!!", the album takes off with "Emptied Muzzle", the first in a line of mature orchestrations that capture the epic robot saga. It's clear from the action tracks that Takuya Hanaoka and Naofumi Tsuruyama are highly talented composers of action music. Deeply influenced by modernist composers, "A Premonition of Slaughter" establishes tension with its low-pitched piano punctuations before overwhelming listeners with an aggessive succession of dissonant chords. The more nationalistic "In the Valley of Victory and Defeat", on the other, is a truly intricate orchestral composition that undergoes so many twists and turns during its playtime.

While most of the original compositions assert a dramatic tone, there are some welcome deviations. "Disaster is at Hand", "Twilight Battleground", and "Banquet of Despair" are both fascinating fusion battle themes that bring some contemporary elements to the soundtrack; both have a great sense of rhythm and timbre. "Sorrowful Memory" provides one of the more contemplative moments in the disc, transitioning from a heartfelt oboe solo into a anime-styled orchestral lament. It isn't wildly original, but manages to be effectual nonetheless. "The Universe in Eternal Harmony..." finishes the album on a triumphant note with a stable anthemic orchestration. As the title implies, it is a wonderful way to unify and round off the album both stylistically and thematically.


Overall, this album is the best single release dedicated to Super Robot Taisen Alpha. However, it is still woefully incomplete, lacking full-length theme songs, a number of anime arrangements, and even some of the best instrumental pieces. This isn't really acceptable given the 'Complete' title of the soundtrack and it's clear that a double disc release was required. Nevertheless, the original compositions are good enough here for this to be worth considering, especially now that the trilogy of otherwise superior 'Original Score' albums are out-of-print.

Overall Score: 6/10