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Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria OST Vol. 1 - Alicia's Side :: Review by Nathan Black

Valkyrie Profile Silmeria Original Soundtrack Vol. 1 - Alicia's Side Album Title: Valkyrie Profile Silmeria Original Soundtrack Vol. 1 - Alicia's Side
Record Label: Team Entertainment
Catalog No.: KDSD-00102/3
Release Date: July 12, 2006
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


Motoi Sakuraba was welcomed back with open arms for a return to the epic tale of Valhallan intrigue. Expectations were high, and understandably so, considering his absolutely solid work on the previous Valkyrie Profile. Being a fan of the man's work myself, I was doing a good deal of looking forward to getting my hands on this soundtrack. To the heart of the matter, though. Did Sakuraba stand tall enough to fill the shadow of his earlier success?

The answer is a definitive no. Many seemed to fear that Sakuraba would be left behind by the swiftly changing demands of video game music, but he makes it very clear that he can roll with the tide on this soundtrack. Gone is the synthesizer and organ of old, replaced with a complete orchestra and choir. Unfortunately, that serves as a disappointment to some, including myself, whom had become accustomed to furious organ work and pounding progressive rock. The entire soundtrack takes on a very cinematic flair, which often serves only to bore the casual listener.

Looking at the silver lining of what may be a grey and stormy cloud, Motoi takes his skills in new directions with this album, which have both positive and negative effects on the soundtrack, as a whole.


Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria's opening theme is surprisingly boring. After enjoying the epic introduction to the game's first iteration, I was more than moderately disconcerted to find that "Overture to the Destiny" is a giant sleeper, consisting of simple music box twinkling. By the end, I half-expected a sweet and moving piano to take over, but such splendor was not meant to be, and Sakuraba is off to a rough start. The next few pieces are also remarkably unmoving, with what I can only guess are town themes cluttering up the soundscape with wholly unattractive instrumentation and arrangement. "Alms for The Small One" is somewhat reminiscent of Sakimoto's "Karavaia" from Legaia Duel Saga, but without any of the pizzazz. "Divine View" and "To The Eternal Land" are both slow-paced tracks that attempt to be moving, but only tire. The compositions are spot-on, and seem to be masterfully crafted, but their themes fail to grab your attention. "To The Eternal Land" has a few strong points with the use of some very sweeping string work, but it, overall, comes off as just another track that is trying to be epic.

The fun begins with "Sank Memories." Contrabass strings bring you in with swift and spicatto hits while woodwind and higher-register strings weave an interesting atmosphere soon after. However, the track fails to remain interesting for its nearly four-minute duration, a problem which is endemic on this soundtrack. By the time it loops, you are certainly ready for something different.

In general, Sakuraba makes a very poor showing with the slower-paced pieces on this album, almost never managing to maintain attention for the entire track. The album's darker tracks are also quite bad, often entirely too dissonant and/or ambient to be anything more than just a vague and hazy look at evil. One of the notable exceptions is "Purse the Awful Mystery," an intriguing and tense track filled with quick strings and imposing timpani. However, tracks of interest are far and in between.

For touching themes, the harp is gratuitously used, and I must say that it is definitely not one of Sakuraba's stronger instruments, especially considering that a harp solo is decidedly difficult to make entertaining to the casual ear. As such, songs with a harp as the lead instrument, such as "At Peace with Extinction," fall flat on their faces, despite feeble attempts to spice things up with woodwinds or harpsichord.

Of course, one must always bow to a Sakuraba battle theme, and "Motion of a Finishing Blow" reasserts that you better keep that head low. The first truly enjoyable track on the first disc, "Motion..." is some of that progressive rock action that we all know and love Sakuraba for, but with a definite twist. Giving up the organ and electric guitars, Sakuraba instead wows with a brass and strings. The brass section alternates leading the melody with the strings, leading to a very good balance between the grating sound of horns and the smooth flow of violins. The drums keep the rhythm top-notch, switching up its snare and bass drum use accordingly to accent whatever the track may be trying to accomplish at any given moment. Everything is excellent, from the bass guitar plucks to the sweet synth that drops in near one of the many crescendos that takes the song to another level. "Motion of a Finishing Blow" does take you though every motion of battle, including the finishing blow. The victory theme that follows is not all that victorious sounding, but we can let that slide after what has just been experienced.

Another big jam is "Indescribable Grief." I am not quite sure what constitutes sad, but if this is it, then I can definitely go for more depression on this album. The bass drum's rhythm is heavenly nectar, and the brass and strings pair up to make a very moving track. Its upbeat pacing and sense of movement is the perfect medicine for a boss battle, or perhaps a powerful scene of angrily sworn revenge against a foe. The only kink in this track's armor is the rather abrupt looping point. The piece quite suddenly starts again, and how it gets there is something of a mystery.

"Disturb the Doubtful Sleep" reintroduces us to some of that delicious organ I am sure many of us have been craving. With a pounding rhythm, heavy electric guitar soloing, and a wild synth, this theme is very nostalgic of a dungeon theme from the first Valkyrie Profile. The orchestra is still very present, throwing in its two cents with very commanding swells of supporting chords. Alas, if only such style could have been visited for many of the soundtrack's other pieces. "Celestial Troupe" takes a stab at imitating the success of "Disturb" but only ends up being uninteresting guitar shredding over only slightly less uninteresting organ.

The piece that closes the soundtrack, "Endless High-Speed Running," is simply bad. Almost every aspect of the song is uninspired and random. The entire piece feels like the band decided to get together and jam for a few minutes. Mind you, when I say, "a few minutes," I mean five and a half minutes, which feels quite endless. Every instrument seems to be doing its high-speed running in a different direction. The track lacks a single unifying element and is reduced to five or six instruments soloing by themselves and being thrown together to be called a piece of music. Nice try, Sakuraba. No, not really.


Valkyrie Profile Silmeria Original Soundtrack Vol. 1 - Alicia's Side serves as an example of maximizing on one's strengths at the cost of forgetting weaknesses even exist. The battle themes on this soundtrack are beyond excellent, but they come so far and in between that you tend to forget they are there. Sakuraba's instrumentation often feels cluttered, and the grand majority of Volume 1 is chock full of utterly lackluster pieces. The effect upon extended listening is something akin to being slowly suffocated. I found listening to the entire soundtrack in one sitting a practice in self-flagellation.

It may sound like exaggeration, but the ambience is completely stifling at times, and it seems endless as track after track drones on with no end in sight. It got to the point where I hardly noticed track changes. That may be why the instances of enjoyable music were so very refreshing. Regardless, Alicia's Side is all about finding the diamonds in the rough. However, it was a bit too much rough and not enough diamond.

Overall Score: 5/10