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11eyes Original Soundtrack & Arrange Soundtrack :: Review by Don

11eyes Original Soundtrack & Arrange Soundtrack Album Title: 11eyes Original Soundtrack & Arrange Soundtrack
Record Label: Lass
Catalog No.: LACD-0002
Release Date: May 5, 2009
Purchase: Buy at eBay

Overview

11eyes: Tsumi to Batsu to Aganai no Shoujo is an adult visual novel originally released on PC, with a port to the Xbox360, entitled 11eyes Crossover. The music, aside from the vocal themes, was composed by Shoichiro Sakamoto, one of the members of Supersweep, also known for his work on the indie game Impetuth. The first two discs feature the original score for the game. The third disc features four themes from 11eyes Crossover, arrangements of the original soundtrack, and arrangements of the various vocal themes. It's a fairly large score, but how is the quality?

Body

The album opens up with "Embrace of Dreams," a beautiful strings and piano piece. It's a very poignant and heartfelt piece of music and a great way to open the soundtrack. The melody is absolutely superb and, even though this sounds cliché, has a very dreamy quality to it. "In Love, But in Pain," is another poignant and beautifully touching piano theme that follows in the footsepts of "Embrace of Dreams" in terms of evoking a very strong emotional response. The piano work is simplistic, sure, but sometimes that is all you need to get the point across. Another heartfelt theme, "The World You Finally See," incorporates woodwinds, strings, and piano to create a very beautiful and enticing melody. I also love the incorporation of a more orchestral approach, at times flourishing, and at times dramatic. "Our Most Important Time," is an acoustic guitar and woodwind piece. It features a very folk-like soundscape, full of magic and warmth.

There are also quite a few darker and atmospheric pieces on the soundtrack. "Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius," is an organ piece that features a very dark atmosphere. The addition of choir gives a nice sense of foreboding and the industrial effects add for a bit of contrast to the theme. Unfortunately, not all the dark themes are too pleasing. "Violation" surely is a creative piece of music, dark and atmospheric, that features many industrial beats and effects; however, many listeners may find it hard to listen to on a standalone basis, especially if they are looking for a bit of melody in their music. "Fire Ritual," is another theme that suffers from this problem, although not to the extent of "Violation." It's a very industrial ambient sounding theme with a hint of ethnic influence in terms of instrumentation. The addition of a techno beat does help make it a bit more tolerable than "Violation," but it's still a far cry from the more melodically pleasing dark themes on the soundtrack.

"Chronicle of Degenerate Fantasy" sets things back on the right track. It's a dark and brooding organ and choir piece that showcases Shoichiro Sakamoto's more diverse styles. It's quite different from the aforementioned organ piece and is much creepier in style. Even the more upbeat organ section gives off a very evil carnival-esque soundscape. "Breaking Heart" also suffers a bit. It's a dark and atmospheric piano piece with an industrial/electronic influence and gives off a bit of a creepy vibe, but it's also one of the more unappealing dark themes. "Waltz of the Red Death," though, is truly one of the standout themes on the album. It opens with a spooky-synth like vocal over some atmospheric background accompaniment. In fact, these spooky synth vocals dominate a majority of the theme and are placed over an industrial beat. The strings interludes heard throughout are a nice contrast to the vocals and lend themselves to a hauntingly beautiful melody.

There are a few bubbly themes on the album. "Slapstick Reload," is a very bubbly synth piece that reminds me a lot like the music heard in Sonic the Hedgehog 3. It's a fantastic melody and the xylophone and brass usage help to give it a bit of a tropical soundscape. "Self-Delusion Picture Show" is a quirky synth piece featuring a fantastic melody and a fun atmosphere. The rock accompaniment is a particularly nice touch. Lastly, "With a Pop Beat After a Clearing Sky" is composed by a guest, Hyakutaro Tsukumo. It's a bubbly synth piece that reminds me a bit of the jazz style heard in Breath of Fire III. It features a fantastic melody and is quite different from the awesome rock that I'm used to hearing Tsukomo do.

The energetic themes, however, are the ones that I'm most fond of. "Valgar Souls from Hell" is a kickass rock and violin theme. The rock riffs really help give it a great edge, as do the synth accents and melodies. The violin melody is also a great contrast to the rock feel of the track. The track has a Ys-like sound and features a pretty kickass solo as well. "Wild Dance of a Thousand Blades" is another rock based theme with some great synth melodies. They carry a sense of urgency, playfulness, and adventure. It's easily another highlight from the album. For those who have heard Sakamoto's work on Impetuth, it reminds me very much like this. "Look, My Sword [Heart] is as Yet Unbroken! is another kickass rock theme in the vein of the Guilty Gear or BlazBlue series. The violin and electric guitar work wonderfully together to produce some very effective melodies and a great sense of energy. The synth highlights this melody quite well, in addition to the aforementioned instruments. "Rapid Heart" is also another energetic theme with a rock influence. It manages to keep the sinisterness heard in "Breaking Heart," the piece that precedes it on the original soundtrack. The strings are really the tour de force of the composition though. They really help push a fantastic melody as well as create a beautiful and intoxicating atmosphere.

"Reduced Occult Moon" has to be my favorite theme on the soundtrack. It has a Castlevania-like sound. The choir, organ, industrial beats, and electric guitar all mesh quite well together and help to create a very effective, energetic, catchy, and beautifully melodic and atmospheric piece of music. Another fantastic theme, though, is "Holy Psalm 666 ~The Last Testament~." It has a semi-rock influence, but the strings work, choir, and solo violin all add up to a crazily catchy theme that showcases sinister and heroic natures. Lastly, "Eye of Aeon" is a fantastic electronica theme that starts off on the atmospheric side and moves into an upbeat theme filled with some awesome crystalline synth melody. The piano bridge is a beautiful addition to the theme and serves as a nice calming change of pace.

There are also a few additions from the 11eyes Crossover game as well. "The Long Afternoon of the Mages," composed by Shinji Hosoe, is a nice change of pace from Hosoe's normal compositional style. It's a very relaxing acoustic guitar and synth theme that features an enchanting background and a great melody. Also composed by Shinji Hosoe, "Hollow Boundary," is an interesting fusion of industrial beats, quirky synth, and shamisen. The melody isn't the most prominent feature, but the atmosphere the piece exudes is quite nice. "CYBER-CYPHER," composed by Shoichiro Sakamoto, is an energetic synth theme that reminds me of his Impetuth work as well. The various synth elements help to create a very interesting soundscape and the rock and piano accompaniment is pretty kickass. The B section of the theme also features a hint of sinister. However, "The Witch Hammer that Shatters Divine Wisdom" is easily the highlight of these four themes. It's a rock influenced theme with a violin focus. There is a brooding opening with some orchestral bombast that leads into a fantastic violin melody. The piano accompaniment is simple, yet effective, while the electric guitar riffs really give the song a great edge. The synth melody is also quite nice, offering a nice contrast to the violin. Overall, this theme is definitely a winner in my book!

The rest of the album is dedicated to arrangements, which are usually of some of the better themes on the soundtrack, and are mostly arranged by Shoichiro Sakamoto. "Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius" adds what sounds like rain sound effects to the opening of the theme in addition to a creepy musical box introduction. The drum beat, harpsichord, and violin line fit wonderfully into the original choir section and help make this theme stick out slightly more than the original. "Waltz of the Red Death" replaces the synth vocals with creepy music box melodies and some strange electronic warping effects. It still manages to retain its creepiness and has some evil carnivalesque sounds, some industrial beats, and some choir usage. It's a very interesting take on the original. "Wild Dance of a Thousand Blades," while still as kickass as the original, doesn't deviate much. There is the addition of some strings sections/melodies and a synth solo, but aside from that, nothing really changed from the original. It's still quite effective. Another arrangement that suffers this problem is "Look, My Sword [Heart] is as Yet Unbroken!" The only difference here is the addition of a kickass guitar solo that makes it a bit different from the original. "Eye of Aeon" is similar to the original as well. Piano replaces the crystalline synth, but for the most part, it stays pretty much the same, with perhaps some slight alterations to the synth style used. The piano bridge is replaced with strings-like synth. The section after the bridge is a bit different as well and takes on a more dramatic edge before climaxing with a kickass synth solo.

y favorite arrangement also belongs to my favorite theme on the original soundtrack. "Reduced Occult Moon" features edgier guitar work, an awesome new beat that gives it a bit of an ethnic rhythm, some awesome guitar solos, some lovely new synth sections that help accentuate the rhythm and offer a fantastic contrast to the source material. The "Holy Psalm 666 ~The Last Testament~" arrangement features militaristic marching percussion and choir to open the theme. The choir work is similar to the original; however, the choir is soon replaced by violin. There seems to be a softer and slower focus on the melody, played by woodwinds in the arrangement. It's still retains its sinister nature, but is also a more epic take on the original in the long run.

The other three arrangements are of the vocal themes from the game. "Untainted Dream (DARK SIDE MIX)," composed by Keisuke Kurose and arranged by Yukinari Shioda, is an awesome techno theme with a violin focus. In fact, it reminds me a lot of Yuki Kajiura's style. There are some spoken vocal samples thrown into the mix that take on a whispering effect, that give it a bit of a creepy vibe. Overall, it features great energy and atmosphere. The piano and chimes sections are quite nice as well. The violin solo, although very short, is pretty interesting as well. "Lunatic Tears... (Tatsch Remix)" is arranged by Tatsch. It's a nice driving electronica theme with some great synth melodies. The addition of some vocal work, similar to what Yuki Kajiura may use, is particularly touching. The violin work, however, truly makes this theme shine. It's a stark contrast to the techno beat and fits in quite well. It's easily my favorite arrangement not done by Shoichiro Sakamoto. Tatsch also remixes another theme. Entitled "Sword of Oblivion (Pf. Ver.), it's a very lovely piano tune that features a beautiful and touching melody. It's simple, yet effective, and the ambient and atmospheric accompaniment is a nice way to keep things mellow.

Summary

I had originally purchased this album on a whim due to how much Shoichiro Sakamoto impressed me on the Impetuth Original Soundtracks. Fortunately, I was not disappointed. Sakamoto showcased how diverse he was by offering a nice array of styles. At times, warm and poignant, at others energetic and rockin', this album has something for everyone. The arrangements are also of high quality, even if a few of them don't branch out as much from the original as I may have liked. I highly recommend it if you were a fan of Impetuth Original Soundtracks, though be warned that you'll have to get it via Yahoo Japan Auctions most likely, as it was never released commercially, but at an event dedicated to the game. It's a shame, too, because I think it could sell quite a bit!

Overall Score: 9/10