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Darius Burst Original Soundtrack :: Review by Don

Darius Burst Original Soundtrack Album Title: Darius Burst Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Zuntata
Catalog No.: ZTTL-0063
Release Date: January 20, 2010
Purchase: Buy at Amazon Japan


Although there are many classic horizontal shmups, the one whose music is nearest and dearest to my heart belongs to the Darius series. The first four games, composed by Hisayoshi Ogura, known to many simply as OGR, really demonstrated an evolution of the music of the series. Although the music started off rather typical for a shmup, as the series evolved, the music became much more complex and much more experimental in nature. It's been a long time since the last Darius game and Darius Burst serves as a hopeful revival of the series. Unfortunately, OGR is no longer with Zuntata, so much of the music was composed by the current members Hirokazu Koshio and Shohei Tsuchiya. Fret not though, as OGR returns to compose one new theme for the series. There are also a couple of surprises in store as well. Read on to find out if the Darius Burst Original Soundtrack lives up to its predecessors in terms of musicality.


Many fans of the Darius series were hoping that Hisayoshi Ogura would be returning to score the soundtrack, hoping to hear more of that classic Darius sound. Unfortunately for them, he only returns to compose one new track, entitled"Hello 31337". Presumably the final boss theme, it is more in line with Ogura's more experimental scores in the Darius series, Darius Gaiden and G-Darius. At the same time, however, it's an evolved form of these themes. It's a blend of new music, to fit with the overall direction of the soundtrack, but it still manages to put that OGR stamp on it. The insane electronic beats and accompaniments that accentuate the vocal samples are absolutely delicious nectar for the ears. It's a fantastic piece and it really makes me, a huge classic Darius fan, wonder what a solo OGR Darius Burst score would sound like.

The other theme that credits, in part, OGR is "I LED NU-RED-GAS". Even though it was arranged by Hirokazu Koshio, fans of classic Darius should not fret! In terms of musical direction, this one is more in tune with Darius Gaiden and G-Darius as well. It's an effective industrial fusion that progresses through music from each of the classic Darius games. You'll hear portions of "Boss Scene 7" from Darius, "Visionnerz" from Darius Gaiden, and "Adam" from G-Darius. I can't quite discern the theme from Darius II, but I know it's there.

There is also another interesting surprise for this soundtrack. Two of the themes are from Yasuhisa "Yack" Watanabe's Syvalion work. "Syvalion Arrange ONE" is arranged by Shohei Tsuchiya, who composed most of this soundtrack. It's a mysterious piano theme that evolves into a more orchestral theme with some industrial backing. As it progresses, the mysteriousness of the piece becomes one that is more heroic in nature. The other mix, handled by Hirokazu Koshio, is "Syvalion Arrange Mix". This is a nice synth piece that features some industrial beats and some rock influence. There is a ton of energy featured within this piece, which appears to be a medley of some sort, and it takes a very futuristic approach. Unfortunately, I'm not familiar at all with the Syvalion series, so I can't figure out what either of these tunes is originally called.

The Darius series is also known for its variety of stage themes. The first stage theme, as well as the main theme of the game, is entitled "Goodbye My Earth," composed by Shohei Tsuchiya. It was first featured in the trailer for the game and it is an energetic theme that employs ample use of vocals to convey its strong melody. The drum accompaniment really helps give it a nice rock feel and it's easily one of my favorites. There are also two direct arrangements of this theme, both also composed by Tsuchiya. "The World of Spirit" opens with a music box melody before progressing to an upbeat theme; it features a mix of the original version and a more Asian influenced version with the melody being played on what sounds like a shakuhachi, or at least another deep woodwind instrument. "Pay Blue's Respect" is a slower take on this theme. It features another music box melody that is coupled with some slower strings and piano accompaniments to give it a very melancholy atmosphere. Both arrangements are great takes on the original.

Another stage theme, "Cylinder," also composed by Shohei Tsuchiya, has more of a rock focus and also employs the use of crazy vocal samples. The ominous opening, which is featured sporadically throughout the piece, is a nice touch, although it would have been nice to see it fleshed out a bit more and become a more prominent feature the stage theme. There are ample intriguing elements in this theme, but the rock focus definitely makes it worthwhile. "Iron Corridor," another Tsuchiya-composed stage theme, is much mellower in nature than his previous two. The use of piano, an industrial backing, and operatic vocal work help provide a softer soundscape compared to the other stage themes and helps it stand out among the stage themes. The other stage theme, "Abyssal Holic", is composed by Hirokazu Koshio. It's an electronic based theme with some industrial beats. The melody component of this theme sounds more in style to those in Darius Gaiden. It's a pretty decent theme with a fairly strong melody, with that hint of classic Darius sound, but I think it falls short of Tsuchiya's offerings.

There are also a variety of shorter themes composed by both Koshio and Tsuchiya. "Baptize Silver Hawk," one of Koshio's contributions, is a short electronic theme with some voice chatter samples. The accompaniment is pretty catchy and the melody is a strong point. However, it's quite short and isn't as developed as some of the more prominent themes on the soundtrack. His other contribution, "You'll Be in My Thoughts," features a subtle reference to "Goodbye My Earth." It starts off quite slow, but progresses into a faster paced theme. It's an interesting contrast because at first the atmosphere is quite peaceful, but over time it becomes more robust. The use of vocoder throughout the theme is a particularly nice touch and one I truly appreciate.

Shohei Tsuchiya also offers up some of these shorter themes. "Fast Lane" is another electronic theme that features some vocal chatter samples. As with "You'll Be in My Thoughts," this also features another reference to "Goodbye My Earth" when the melody slows down a bit. In the end, it's a short, fairly memorable theme with some great drum work. "Dograce," on the other hand, is a slow ominous industrial theme that features some distorted vocal samples throughout the piece. It's an interesting piece, no doubt, but one that is hard to appreciate out of context. "Shady" is a slower paced electronic theme that features some nice brass and piano accents. As it progresses, it picks up in tempo and the atmosphere becomes more like Tsuchiya's other industrial based offerings. It's a very refreshing soundscape with a great melody.

So, I've talked about all the stage themes, the classic homage to the Darius series, and even a bit of the Syvalion series, but I haven't touched upon the boss themes, aside from Hisayoshi Ogura's presumed contribution. The majority are composed by Shohei Tsuchiya, with one sole contribution by Hirokazu Koshio. His contribution, "Hinder Two," is an ominous boss theme with some militaristic percussion, some vocal samples, and another reference to "Goodbye My Earth. It's a really cluttered theme, but the heroic, yet ominous, melody via the brass is a nice touch. I still think its one of the weaker boss themes though.

"Hinder One," composed by Shohei Tsuchiya, is a rather interesting one. It features some industrial accompaniment, but the melody portion is where this theme really shines. At times, it employs the use of frenetic strings, at others, resounding brass. The flamenco guitar is a particularly interesting touch as well. It's unlike anything in the Darius series prior, but that doesn't mean it's bad. It's actually quite the opposite! "Hinder Three" opens with a classic Darius sound before it decides to go all crazy. Vocal samples and a strong industrial accompaniment dominate this boss theme. As for any melodic sections, there are some brief melodic fragments that are added from time to time. For the most part, however, it's just pure unbridled crazy industrial awesomeness. Finally, "Hinder Four" features another industrial backing and some frenetic synth melodies at first. When the melody progresses a bit more, I love how the drum accompaniment works well with the softer spacey atmosphere to offer a pretty nice contrast to the other boss themes on the soundtrack.


In the end, fans of earlier Darius series may be disappointed that this Darius features a bit more of a modern take on the series, however, there are plenty of strong themes. Tsuchiya's contributions to both stage and boss themes are easily the best things from the current Zuntata team. Koshio's, while weaker, are still a nice contrast to Tsuchiya's work. The classic homage to Yack's Syvalion work is quite the surprise, and I find Koshio's arrangement of classic Darius themes to be spot on. However, despite only composing one theme, I think that Hisayoshi "OGR" Ogura steals the show. His final boss theme is a thing of wonder and should easily be sought out by fans of OGR and his previous Darius work. The Darius Burst Original Soundtrack manages to carve out its own place in Darius history. Whether that is for better or for worse is up to the fans of the series. I enjoyed this one and, although I don't think its as strong as some of the other Darius series, it definitely creates its own world through its musicality.

Overall Score: 8/10