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Symphonic Poem Dragon Slayer The Legend of Heroes Vol. 1 :: Review by GoldfishX

Symphonic Poem Dragon Slayer The Legend of Heroes Vol. 1 Album Title: Symphonic Poem Dragon Slayer The Legend of Heroes Vol. 1
Record Label: King Records
Catalog No.: KICA-1101
Release Date: March 25, 1992
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Generally, I'm not a fan of symphonic game music arrangements. I feel that too many pieces of music lose their overall feel in the transition from synth to real instruments, and that synth arrangements bring out the best characteristics in the original music. Many times, especially if you're not familiar with the source material, the end result is a very boring experience despite the live instruments. Thankfully, for synth lovers like myself, our friends at Falcom have been kind enough to provide us with a happy-medium between synth and orchestra: The J.D.K. Electric Orchestra!

I don't know how he does it, but every time Tamiya Terashima gets behind the wheel of the Electric Orchestra something good happens. The unique usage of real-sounding synthesizers that sound like a synthy orchestra has yet to let me down in ANY arrangement it has performed. This stands true especially for the Legend of Heroes series, where the first four games received the Electric Orchestra treatment to splendid result. While Symphonic Poem Dragon Slayer The Legend of Heroes Vol. 1 isn't my favorite of Terashima's works — in fact, The Legend of Heroes III Electric Orchestra is my favorite — it does come closer to bringing out the true nature of the original Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes score than any other version. Even though I listen to Perfect Collection Dragon Slayer The Legend of Heroes much more than this, this is one of the most satisfying listening experiences I have in my collection.


Speaking of the selections, three of the seven tracks focus on specific pieces, while the rest are medleys of various others. I'm especially impressed with the way the medleys flow seamlessly from track-to-track. I was a little disappointed that my favorite Legend of Heroes piece, "Pirate Island", didn't make it, but the rest are all fine selections. Sound quality is excellent overall; I have a few nit-picks on the last track, but no major complaints. Seemingly, Symphonic Poem Dragon Slayer The Legend of Heroes Vol. 1 was conducted in front of a live audience, unless Terashima is using an electric audience as well. After each selection ends, there is a bit of clapping and other various noises. I can see where this can bother a few people, but I personally like the live feeling it has.

The single-track selections are "Opening" (Movement 1), "Town" (Movement 2), and "Ending I" (Movement 6). My biggest complaint is that "Opening" and "Ending I", while excellent, have basically the same composition. In a nutshell, the opening is a bit faster, while the ending has a somber, slower feel to it. Terashima did his best to differentiate between the two, but it's almost impossible to ignore the similarities. That said, "Town" is my second favorite arrangement here, as it features a bombastic yet classically-oriented take on the melancholic original.

Of the medleys, Movement 3 is my hands-down favorite on the album. It starts with the excellent "Field" theme before cutting over to the "Battle" theme. Afterward, it cuts back to a slower version of "Field", then it goes to the ominous "Dungeon" music, then back to a slower version of "Battle". This magnificent track ends with "Event Clear" snippet and ANOTHER version of "Field". Movement 4 is a classic example of a fast track being paired up with a slower one; it starts and ends with "Castle" with "The Word of God" showing up in the middle. Movement 5 isn't anything special, just three more solid tracks that flow into each other. Finally, the album ends with "Ending II" and "March of Heroes". Both of these upbeat tracks are done justice with the orchestral treatment, but they aren't as good as the Perfect Collection versions. Still, the album goes out with a bang.


Overall, a very impressive effort. Even if you're not familiar with the original score, this should be an immediate purchase if it shows up. I've seen it quite a few times oneBay and on message boards, so it's not the hardest Falcom album to find. In fact, most Legend of Heroes albums aren't as popular as Ys ones, so don't expect to pay more than $30 for it.

Overall Score: 8/10