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Persona 3 Original Soundtrack :: Review by FuryofFrog

Persona 3 Original Soundtrack Album Title: Persona 3 Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Aniplex
Catalog No.: SVWC-7380/1
Release Date: July 19, 2006
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


Shoji Meguro has dazzled me with his Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne soundtrack and the Digital Devil Saga albums but, when I got the Persona 3 Original Soundtrack, a small amount of confusion overwhelmed me. Why were there so many awkward rhythms? Why were there crazy Japanese men who were convinced that they could rap? Why the big hip-hop influence? Meguro typically is into guitars and techno. This was just strange to behold. So is it any good? Should we be afraid of the path that our beloved Meguro has started down? Let us see...

Track-by-Track Reviews

Disc One

1) Burn My Dread

The introduction to this soundtrack is a pretty bold one. "Burn My Dread" starts off with some really wicked guitar chords that kick you into a really groovy mood. Punctuated vocals mellow out the entire song while maintaining the grooviness. When the refrain chimes in, the piece becomes plain unbearable though. Hearing the lady belting out "I WILL BURN MY DREAD" is just plain annoying and really detracted from the experience. At least some powerful brass bolster up the track in this area. As it finally descends to the final section, the piece suddenly becomes bearable to listen to again. (6/10)

2) The Poem for Everyone's Souls

"The Poem for Everyone's Souls" contrasts itself completely from the first song. It starts with a beautiful piano introduction and some increasingly intense strings. Not far in, an operatic voice introduces the melody. As the song continues and more strings are introduced, it becomes even richer and fuller to listen to. This track continues to be a staple of the Persona series and I'm glad that a rendition of this song made it here. (10/10)

3) The Beginning

This track features a piano being struck quite hard and eerie strings. It's not long at all and is sort of pointless to listen to. (3/10)

4) This Mysterious Feeling

The tone considerably changes once more. The strings in the background once again try to evoke a very creepy feeling and it works in spades. At the forefront a trumpet injects some brass into the introduction and offsets the underlying beats very well. (8/10)

5) Want To Be Close

Happy times people! "Want To Be Close" is incredibly upbeat and has a really happy tone to it. One cannot help but think of sunny days and flowers when listening to it. The vocals are really nice as well and add to the cheeriness. The only problem here is from the 40 second mark where any trace of the melody disappear and an annoying beat continually drums away. The piano rejoins once in a while, but I feel like a lot of the piece is really just white noise. (5/10)

6) Troubled

The punctuation of single notes emanates a very serious tone here. As the track developers, the piano is used to develier the melody. The strings once again back everything up and portray how much Meguro loves using strings with lots and lot of vibrato. Hip-hop percussion is also featured here but it is not invasive like earlier tracks. (8/10)

7) Crisis

This is the standard track to encourage gamers to escape from an area or demonstrate something epic is about to happen. The instruments keep climbing higher and higher to give a sense of tension. The quick clapping of the drums really helps to cement the mood. (7/10)

8) Shadow

Bombastic trumpets are brought in here to ensure that this piece is very epic in scope. The piano rattles away quickly to give a brisk pace to the music. Then silence. The hip-hop beat once again rears its head and is incorporated into a unique blend of electronic and classical music. I was really impressed to hear how well everything meshed together here. (10/10)

9) Persona Invocation

This is just a take of the aforementioned piece. It starts off a little subdued but grows into its own. The theme from "Shadow" is used really effectively and never outstays its welcome. (7/10)

10) Unavoidable Battle

Now here is some classic Meguro if I have ever heard it. Highly distorted guitars blare off from the start and make the battle feel extremely evident. The guitar work is very impressive and well done. Classic drum kit crashes and snare pounds add to the heavy metal feel. (9/10)

11) Peace

A simplified version of "Want To Be Close" is played here. The string section bolsters the piece while the atrocious hip-hop beats don't appears. The vocalist also sticks around for the entire song and ensures this reprisal is a lot more enjoyable. (8/10)

12) When The Moon's Reaching Out Stars

One sort of needs to listen closely to notice, but this track is a repurposing of "Burn My Dread". The other lyrics have been completely dropped and replaced with different lyrics. The beat has been sped up and more electronica elements have been thrown in for good measure. (7/10)

13) Iwatodai Station

There is an explicit hip-hop vibe brought out of the woodwork here. Trumpets and some occasional violin work strengthen the song. When the lyrics bust through the wall of sound, the piece loses its way a bit. That's due to the incomprehensible sounds of the man who is trying to rap; one cannot help but notice that his voice sounds unnaturally deep here as well. Very mediocre. (6/10)

14) The Voice Someone Calls

The piano lightly chimes in here. There is a lot of ambient noise in the background and there is also lots of silence to break up the track a bit. It's short but very creepy. You can't help but wonder what'slurking around the corner. (8/10)

15) tartarus_0d01

Ah one of the many tartarus themes. These themes are mainly used for roaming about dungeons that change once in a while. Distorted overdriven beats are used here along with the occasional piano chord. After listening to the piece for a while, it becomes extremely burdensome and I cannot help but skip it after the first 30 seconds. (5/10)

16) Mass Destruction

More J-Rap! The song seems to have a lot of potential with awesome big band style trumpets blasting and some cool guitar work. However, the song is dragged down once again by incomprehensible Japanese rapping fused with some of the female vocals from "Want To Be Close". There is a certain amount of grooviness here but again so much wasted potential. (6/10)

17) After the Battle

Scarier vibrato violins are used here and the guitar is eventually summoned to play a few chords. It's really short but it's not bad. (7/10)

18) p3ct004_01

Here we are treated to a nice amount of bass alongside the ever-popular trumpets. The overly deep voiced Japanese man is relegated to yelling "Hu HuH!" here every once in a while. He actually adds to the song this time. (7/10)

19) Deep Breath Deep Breath

An industrial electronica style is belted out for the first 15 seconds of this track. Shortly afterwards, the J-Rapper man shows up to infuse us with his own definition of cool. Highly distorted and out of tune ladies start wailing in the background as the J-Rapper continues his shtick. The songs featuring hip hop and rapping are getting a lot more interesting and strong thanks to the blending. (8/10)

20) Master of Shadow

More industrial styled electronica is sampled here. The first 40 seconds are very intense with a low electronica grumble. Techno samples come out of the woodwork and are joined by soft female humming. The track then thickens up with some distorted guitars to bring back the industrial influence. (7/10)

21) Palonian Mall

Everything about this song is really annoying. Extremely simple drums are in the background as some lady sings lyrics that make no sense whatsoever. Trumpets come in every so often to accent the piece but it really doesn't work. The repetition of the lyrics makes the song really annoying and not even worth salvaging. (3/10)

22) tartarus_0d02

This piece is a heck of a lot more interesting than the last tartarus piece. The overdriven hip-hop beats are a lot louder this time around and are not ashamed to be played so loud. The piano is played a lot more with the same four chords but the piece doesn't really seem anywhere near repetitive as the first one. (7/10)

23) An Unpleasant Premonition

Man everything about this piece sounds unpleasant. The loud percussion just rattles through my head. The little bit of piano is hardly enough to save the track. Repetitive and boring drums with no other substance just kill this piece. Thankfully it's not too long. (1/10)

24) Fearful Experience

This piece is sort of minimalistic. Piano is the main force here in conjunction with a constant slow beat of the bass drum. Occasionally the piano is swapped with or accented by some lower strings and, in the background, a dissonant sounding cello strikes. An awkward aura is maintained very well throughout the entirety of the piece. (8/10)

25) Calamity

"Calamity" is a reprisal of the "Crisis" theme with a lot more emphasis on orchestral elements. It also delves deeper into some of the more overdriven electronic influences. The piece remains recognizable but, at its core, it's very much different. There are climbing notes emphasised throughout to give a feeling of being chased. (7/10)

26) Junior Exam...

The piano seems like its once again going to be in the spotlight in this piece. However, within the first few seconds, something that sounds like a marimba comes out of nowhere and takes the melody. A trumpet comes in once and a while to nicely accent the marimba notes. Overall there is a very groovy jungle feel that goes with the piece. (9/10)

27) Adventured act:

Electronic bellows are used throughout the course of this piece. They travel back and forth between being close and faraway. Some dissonant notes are heard before the ultra-distorted guitar comes into play. This ultimately leads to the track sounding like a liquid cat is being beaten with a computer tower. Not very pleasant at all. (5/10)

28) Joy

High brass is prominent here and really brings a smile to my face. The deep voiced Japanese man is back to throw out a few lazy karate yells occasionally. The song is really enjoyable overall and those who listen to it might not be able to stop their feet from tapping. (8/10)

29) tartarus_0d03

The last tartarus theme seems like it took a cue from the first version of the song. The piano to be the loudest force here but, when it isn't playing, the piece destroys itself with repetitive overdriven beats. It's the weakest tartarus theme of the disc. (4/10)

30) A Deep Mentality

The song starts out sort of muted but it gradually becomes louder and more fleshed out. The vocalist is pretty solid here but sometimes her pitch is artificially raised. It's sort of annoying that, while she is trying to be very jazzy, every so often someone lets a bunch of helium into the room causing high-pitched distress to her voice. The instrumentation is good, the vocals are good, but too much messing around with the foundations is a bad thing here. (6/10)

31) The Path is Open

Strings are the star here. They do a really good job of conveying happiness and hopefulness. The vibrato technique reappears here but fortunately not for the purpose of being creepy this time. There is a strange whistling sample used here, but it is not overused at all and really helps give the song a very ethereal feeling. (7/10)

32) The Path Was Closed

This is a very strong closer for the first disc. It is a straightforward solo piano rendition of "The Poem for Everyone's Souls". Extremely beautiful but not nearly long enough. (9/10)

Disc Two

1) Changing Seasons

The start of the second disc is also bold. It sounds a lot like 1970s electronica and over time more trumpet is thrown in. Clearly Meguro was feeling retro sentiments while composing this song. The vocals are here just sufficient to strike a balance between being very pleasant and annoying. Thankfully they lean more to the pleasant side. (8/10)

2) Basement

The jungle feeling returns in a very strange way here. The drums maintain a very intense and wicked beat while a distorted guitar brings some flavor to the piece. Unfortunately, the piece falls apart under the extremely processed sound created when the lead melody is taken by anything other than the violin. (6/10)

3) Master of Tartarus

Initially muted guitars build up a distorted groove that sounds somewhere in the realm of J-Pop. How appropriate that female Japanese voices start singing for little snippets. Usually Meguro shines in themes dominated by guitar, but he really fails to impress here. This is sort of a filler piece. (6/10)

4) Just Like This

This piece starts out with the now famous vibrato string section and an occasional piano strike to break up everything. The strings stop and a cello comes in with the melody giving a somber sound. It does so pretty effectively. (7/10)

5) Living With Determination

The sadness emanated here makes this one a gem on the disc. Piano once more drives the piece and pieces of "Burn My Dread" are heard throughout in a different key. The background sounds further cement the sorrow created by the piano and the brass makes it feel all the more epic. (8/10)

6) tartarus_0d04

More tartarus. There is not too much variation in this theme but its enough to keep listeners sane for the whole three and a half minutes. More was added to the percussion section, though it's nothing to really write home about. The piano keeps this one from failing. (6/10)

7) Kyoto

Some traditional Japanese action is siphoned here. The piece is very simplistic and sparse, but that makes the Japanese instrument sound all the more beautiful. (8/10)

8) Afternoon Break

"Afternoon Break" sounds very much like it is a continuation of "Joy". More of the very groovy trumpets are used to great effect. The action-packed pseudo-solo from the electric guitar really makes the piece come together. Overall a toe tapping piece. (8/10)

9) Jika Net Tanaka

This is the first piece of the entire album that is really run by the vocalists. From the second it starts, the vocalists are singing and, even when they take a rest, the instrumentals follow their lead. Trumpets are once more the accenting instruments used here. (7/10)

10) tartarus_0d05

This tartarus theme is just about as strong as the last one. The only thing that is different is that the samples used for the percussion have been changed around a bit to give a different effect. Overall, though, it's the same theme heard four times before. (6/10)

11) Memories from 10 Years Ago

The short introduction features a simple piano and ambient noise, but then the piece really takes off. It greatly speeds up and really gears itself up for a chase around the block. Short and eerie, it really makes the blood of the listener pump. (8/10)

12) Mistic

Hey! I recognize this piece! Tartarus has appeared under the guise of another name here. This is literally tartarus again, but something is strangely different. The piece has lost almost all of its percussion work and has gained more strings. It is a lot more enjoyable to listen to, but it still falls into the realms of eventually being tiresome. It is still a good attempt at making a annoying theme into an acceptable one. (7/10)

13) The Power of the Heart

The chanting vocals are a nice introduction, but the piece loses its focal point after they dissipate. Only minimal, barely audible piano is featured along with a lot of snare drum. The piece is really boring unless you really enjoy the clash of the snare every second for two minutes. (4/10)

14) Memories of the City

The piece begins with a very light synthy intro that gives way to a beautiful piano melody. As the piano begins to ring out softly and slowly, some mellow guitar work and very soothing percussion is added. The piano then takes a back seat to a lead guitar for a while and then switches place once more. (9/10)

15) Memories of the School

Completely piano driven, this evokes a completely different feeling than its basis "Joy". A sense of reminiscence is present, especially since it is redoing an already familiar theme. It has almost a sad tone. Gone are the excited Japanese vocals and the blood pumping trumpets — nothing but serene piano is here. (8/10)

16) Living With Determination - Iwatodai Station Arrange

This piece takes the best parts of "Living With Determination" and "Iwatodai Station" to calming results. There a large amount of piano and trombone influence here. This is merged together with the sort of hip-hop drums from the dorm to create an air of serenity. (8/10)

17) tartarus_0d06

Finally, the last tartarus theme. Just like most of the other tartarus themes, an occasional piano chord is featured while repetitive drums completely overpower the piece. However repetitious they are, the strings truly save the piece from being an entire mess. It seems like this is the full version of the theme and probably one of the few that should be listened to completely. (7/10)

18) That Which Escaped the Darkness

Ambient noises give way to big band sound here. The big band really makes the setting feel like a sort of dance hall before we are brought up to the present with metal guitars. The piece repeats itself a lot, but it is acceptable for its length. The fusion never really gets old. (6/10)

19) The Battle for Everyone's Souls

"The Battle for Everyone's Souls" is a surprising high-octane remix of "The Poem For Everyone's Souls". The original arrangement of the song was so powerful that almost any other version would have been deemed a tragedy. This is not so here. Guitars create an almost angry feeling while low brass and strings fuel the fire. The song becomes much faster and has the power of a shotgun behind it. When the piano blares and delivers the melody, it brings back the beauty of the original in a different setting. The female vocals sound a bit out of place with the guitar but, after the strings kick back in, any doubts about the song's preservation go away. A truly worthy remake. (10/10)

20) Nyx

This track is a very foreboding one. Piano, a slow beat, and a particularly sinister brass section make sure of that. You can sense the evil coursing throughout the duration. (8/10)

21) Determination

The first part of the piece takes a page from "Nyx" and tries to create its own frightening feeling. It works very well, but it takes a strange turn when a completely string driven version of tartarus rears its head. This part isn't bad but a little surprising. (7/10)

22) Burn My Dread -Last Battle-

Oh the infernal refrain from the original version of the song starts off this rendition. Thankfully there is something other than the refrain, but unfortunately it comes in the form of underwhelming Japanese rapping. The song is really repetitious and still earns my ire every second I spend listening to it. It's mainly crash cymbals, a barely audible guitar, and some ridiculous rap riddled throughout. (3/10)

23) Bonds

This song is comprised of the parts of "Burn My Dread" which were not annoying. It's been repurposed with an emphasis on strings and sounds much better as a result. (7/10)

24) Because I Will Protect You

The more simplistic piano work is welcome here. However, the theme is so short that there is barely any time to enjoy it. (5/10)

25) Memories of You

This is the closest the album gets to real J-Pop in the album. All of the elements of "Joy" are here but retold with Japanese lyrics. It features hands down the strongest vocal performance on the entire album. This arrangement is quite wonderful with trumpets and other additions keeping the theme interesting. (10/10)

26) Blues in Velvet Room

This is a re-imagining of "The Poem for Everyone's Souls". The vocals are not present but a guitar more than makes up for this with extremely jazzy infusions based on a Persona classic. This song could get the master of the Velvet Room to tap his toes. This is a most excellent way to close off the disc; a very strong ending. (10/10)


So the album has ended and how did it fare? Well Meguro has managed to put together a pretty stellar soundtrack. The efforts included within are a bit inconsistent in quality and some songs suffer due to repetition. However, the rest of the album delivers in spades. The mixture of electronica, metal, jazz, and hip-hop ended working so well I cannot wait to see how Meguro improves on this in the future. The face of Persona has been changed forever. Listeners of Megaten music, don't let this album scare you away. Instead curl up with it for a few nights and see that there are impressive tracks riddled throughout.

Overall Score: 7/10