- Atlus
  - Capcom
  - Cave
  - Falcom
  - Irem
  - Konami
  - Microsoft
  - Namco Bandai
  - Nintendo
  - Nippon Ichi
  - Grasshopper
  - Sega
  - Sony
  - Square Enix
  - Western Games

  - Castlevania
  - Chrono
  - Dragon Quest
  - Final Fantasy
  - Kingdom Hearts
  - Mana
  - Mario
  - Megami Tensei
  - Mega Man
  - Metal Gear
  - Resident Evil
  - SaGa
  - Silent Hill
  - Sonic
  - Star Ocean
  - Street Fighter
  - Suikoden
  - Tales
  - Ys
  - Zelda

  - Masashi Hamauzu
  - Norihiko Hibino
  - Kenji Ito
  - Noriyuki Iwadare
  - Koji Kondo
  - Yuzo Koshiro
  - Shoji Meguro
  - Yasunori Mitsuda
  - Manabu Namiki
  - Hitoshi Sakimoto
  - Motoi Sakuraba
  - Tenpei Sato
  - Yoko Shimomura
  - Koichi Sugiyama
  - Masafumi Takada
  - Nobuo Uematsu
  - Michiru Yamane
  - Akira Yamaoka

Home Contact Us Top


Soul Calibur III Original Soundtrack - Legend of Sounds (Japan) :: Review by Resk

Soul Calibur III Original Soundtrack - Legend of Sounds (Japan) Album Title: Soul Calibur III Original Soundtrack - Legend of Sounds (Japan)
Record Label: Marvelous Entertainment
Catalog No.: MJCD-20132
Release Date: September 3, 2008
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


Watch out for the whip sword! *ducks* That's right folks, we're looking at a Soul Calibur soundtrack, more specifically the two disc soundtrack released for Soul Calibur III, titled Legend of Sounds. On this album, we get a look at the various battle stage themes, which populated the one disc promo version of this album, along with another set of pieces comprising of character ending themes, Chronicle of the Sword cues, and other miscellaneous tracks. However, because there is a lot of similarity between tracks on this album, I'll be grouping together a few examples from each disc to give you a bit of an overview. Before heading into this, I should also note that, although the music in Soul Calibur is important, it does take second fiddle to the fighting aspect of the game. Therefore, the overall sound of the pieces is somewhat muted, except in a few cases. So, I'm stating it here to expect non-crisp clear tracks, instead of mentioning it each time below. Keep an eye out for those ones that shine through though — I'll certainly mention them. Pick up your sword, and in we go!


Let's start things off right. Coming up on the speakers is "Hour of Destiny," this game's opening theme. I've always been a big fan of the Soul Calibur openings, and this one is no exception. The most notable change with this theme compared to its predecessor, "Under the Star of Destiny," is that this time we have a vocal selection included to add an incredible amount of depth. Another feature is the focal cello that plays an important melodic role throughout the opening of the piece. This is something else that I have always loved about Junichi Nakatsuru`s style, in that he isn't afraid to give solos to instruments in an ensemble setting, in particular the cello and the French horn, which also gets a lovely solo six note segment at the middle of the track. Such serene touches, but these solos really give his pieces that extra edge. Back to the piece, the melody passes from the cello to the vocals, with percussive elements and brass swells driving the piece. The second half of the track is transitioned by another solo, this time an African flute, before heading into a faster paced segment. Strings propel the melody with brass accompaniment while heavy drums keep the pace. Brass elements also come into play in the upper ranges, adding that extra bit on top of the already grand base. Heading into the track`s closing segment, we get Nakatsuru`s classic crescendo that builds in strength until the very last note. For me, it is tough to beat "Under the Star of Destiny" but this one comes close.

Keeping in order, we move to "Lorekeeper," a simple melodic segment that serves as Soul Calibur III's menu music. Although the string melody is very simple, the rhythmic elements of the piece really make it come alive in the lower strings and percussive elements. It has just enough groove to it to keep the track going, while still keeping that subtle quality that it requires as a menu theme. Plus, it has a cool ending. "History Beckons" brings us to the character selection screen, where you'll choose between Ivy with clothes and Ivy with fewer clothes... let's not go there. This piece has a strong brass element, where the trumpets really get to belt out the march of souls, so to speak. Heavy snare and cymbal percussive elements are combined with timpani to continue the march feel, keeping in time with the flute trills and sharp chord hits from the low strings. Overall, it isn't a bad track, but it also lacks certain finesse.

Moving on, we're going to look at some of the arena themes. However, since there are so many of these, I'm going to take a closer look at a selection that represent a nice balance of what the game has to offer. First up is "Fearless Eyes," the arena theme for the Eurydice Shrine, the home stage of Cassandra and Sophitia. The piece begins with a solo guitar, before moving into the real substance of the track. Strong brass elements carry the track, specifically in the soaring melody, while short strings provide a rhythm in the lower register. That guitar also continues throughout the piece, adding its own bit of sparkle to the ensemble. Percussion is kept to a minimum, keeping with the standard timpani, cymbals, and snare drum with a few extras thrown in here and there for good measure. The second half of the piece features a very interesting segment, where all of the instruments drop away, leaving a duet between short strings and the guitar, with a little percussion and an oboe bringing up the rear. It's a neat rhythmic segment that brings the piece to its close. Up next is "Confrontation," the arena theme for the Lakeside Coliseum, previously the home stage of Necrid from Soul Calibur II. The piece starts us off with a strong brass fanfare, before moving into a trombone lead melody, with heavy drums and other symphonic elements keeping the rhythm. Throughout the piece, we switch from fast paced rhythmic melody, to slow melodic segments, showcasing a vast array of different instruments. When compared to other battle tracks however, there is a little something lacking from this one.

Next is "Labyrinth of Moonlight," the arena theme for the Labyrinth, the home stage of Ocaldan in Soul Calibur III, and previously Kilik. This is one of the few very different battle themes, in that there is no brass. The entirety of the track is light percussion, some light strings, and a solo flute melody. It's a very rhythmic track, where various percussion supply a fragmentary and sporadic base for the main melody. That melody, on its own, is very sparse as well, creating a great symmetry with the rest of the track. In the second half of the piece, the speed picks up, giving the rhythms and melody a little more animation. Strings begin to build as the melody jumps an octave, before moving into a third section of the piece where everything goes a bit haywire. On first listen, most of the rhythms sound off beat and everything sounds like a jumbled mess, but as you listen to it further, you begin to hear an obvious structure in the different parts, and it all comes together well. Another piece that offers a little variation is "No Regrets," the arena theme for the Pirate Raid, the home stage for Cervantes. The piece begins with a honorable sounding march and fanfare, where the instrumentation is all very positive and full of courage. Some light vocals can also be heard throughout the first section of this piece, where trumpets and trombones pass the melody back and forth with strings and percussion providing a solid base. However, all of this begins to change in the second half, doing a wonderful job at representing Cervantes as a character. The melody turns dark, being driven by rhythmic strings and heavy percussion. It also becomes very repetitive, continuously playing the same set of chords over and over. This then melds back into the first part of the track, completing the circuit.

Moving forward, we're looking at "Forsaken Sanctuary," the arena theme for the Lost Cathedral, the home stage of Siegfried and Nightmare. This is one of only a few tracks where we hear a bit of organ, and I think it fits this stage incredibly well. Trombones and trumpets pronounce the melody of this piece, supported by rhythmic strings and percussive elements. But the real surprise of this track is the piano. Very rarely do we hear any piano during an arena battle track, but here, we get an incredibly well put together piano segment. Rhythmic and intertwining strings combine with the piano to create a really interesting thread of music, before being joined by some strong brass lead by the trumpets. From there, we head into an organ heavy segment with some light vocals, before changing key and going back into the piano. From here, the piano and organ begin to pass the piece back and forth, before strong percussion brings us back to the start of the piece. Leading from that, we come to "If There Were Any Other Way," a battle theme that is not specific to certain stages, but rather to fights between certain characters, specifically fights between pairs whose stories are connected (such as Ivy and Cervantes). Another rare element can be heard in this piece in the form of an electric guitar, which starts off the track. This is a battle theme that is heavily driven by vocals, strong brass, and strings. However, the percussive elements do a fantastic job at keeping the pace of the piece moving forward. This becomes particularly relevant when the piece moves into a very strong melodic segment — a reprise of the ending of "Under the Star of Destiny" from SCII. Although the piece is quite short, this reprise is very welcome to hear, as it is incredibly memorable from the previous game.

We're going to change gears a bit and move from arena themes to ending themes and other miscellaneous themes on the second disc. First up is "Tale of Souls," an incredibly melodic and powerful track. Strings and low brass complement each other well throughout the entire opening sequence of this track, with woodwinds providing harmonies and an oboe on the melody. However, the piece really begins to grow when some light snare and cymbal comes in, adding a bit of a sombre march to the piece. Here, the melody escalates in volume, and simply grows and grows before coming to a subtle, yet peaceful conclusion. "Tenderness" is a character ending, featuring piano, oboe, and some light strings. It's a very short track, as are many of the character themes, but it has a lot of simple expression and emotion in it. Similarly, "Frailty, Thy Name Is..." is a little longer, but again features very a simple ensemble of piano, guitar, clarinet, oboe, and strings. The melody here again is a very harmonious and expressive string that keeps you within the piece. The entire second half of this piece in particular is very moving and remains in a minor key throughout. Up next is "The Ordeal," a track which has some really cool elements in it. There is a strong percussive presence that is augmented by short string work in the lower register, but it is well balanced through some light brass, woodwinds, and even a little vocal in the upper range. One particular thing about this track that is very cool (specifically in the second half), is that the melodic segments from the woodwinds often meld back in forth into the repetitive lower rhythms, keeping a real sense of flow in the track, instead of breaking the piece up into obvious segments.

I'd like to divert from the main groupings of tracks for a moment, to discuss some of the tracks on the album which are given multiple versions. "The Oath" is a sombre and low melodic piece, featuring low brass, low strings, and a guitar lead. It's a short track, but it simply oozes emotion through the rich lower register. Although most of the track is somewhat quiet, causing the guitar to sometimes become lost, the melody remains clear as the rest of the ensemble attempts to support it. A guitar solo version of this track also appears on the album. When the two are compared, I vastly prefer the orchestrated version, simply because the emotion of the track, in my opinion, can't be communicated with a solo instrument, especially when the notes aren't given their full length in favor of creating an intricate melody and accompaniment all in one. "Healing Winds" is a string driven piece that takes advantage of chord work augmented by a piano. Much of this track is simple chords, with a melody finding its way in-between the chords during the opening segment. About half way in, the melody begins to come into its own, where the strings split off to become melody and accompaniment while still keeping some of the chord structure. "Healing Winds (Reprise)" mimics the style of "The Oath," except this time the solo instrument is a piano. This makes it much easier for the piece to keep all of the original elements, and to keep the full sound of the original strings.

On that note, we come to the final piece of the album, "Path of Destiny". This track is by far one of my favorite pieces on this album, and I list it in my top ten favorite video game music tracks. Originally composed as the ending credit theme for SCII, the track has appeared in each Soul Calibur game since, four times total thus far, slightly augmented and adapted in each occurrence. There are two things that make this track so important to me. The first is that it is one of the few pieces in video games that is composed to mimic a symphonic work, meaning that it is composed in obvious movements that flow into one another with an obvious beginning and end. More on this in a bit. The second is that I absolutely love the production quality of this track. With each occurrence, it is hard to determine whether the piece is performed live or synthesized. When compared to the other tracks on the album, this definition becomes even more vague. This is a testament to the production value of this album in particular, because the differences between this live piece and the others on the album are hard to notice. The amount of detail in this piece, from the instrumental solo lines, to the volumes, to the temp changes, is simply astounding.

So, enough gushing over the track, let's look at the SCIII version. The track opens with a powerful brass fanfare, which leads into a short segment of the track's main theme. From there, we head into the first of a few solos during the piece. Constrained to simple brass, the trumpet gives off a peaceful lament, supported by French horns and trombones. A snare drum and a cymbal later, we're into the core melody of the piece, given through the strings. Simple percussion can be heard throughout this section, which a solo French horn punches through the melody with a slight counter melody. The next segment leads with a vocal, supported by woodwinds (flutes mostly) and some subtle harp, before expanding and being taken over by the trumpet. Here, the full orchestra comes back into it, punctuating the main theme while passing between strings and brass. The solo vocal also comes through during this section, following the melodic line of the French horn. It's a subtle vocal, which really adds some nice mystery to the piece. The next section switches gears and focuses on the woodwinds, featuring an oboe on lead supported by flutes. Some low strings are also heard in this section, specifically with cellos and light violin. A trombone then arrives and joins in with a clarinet to keep the melody going, before a piano and the rest of the orchestra finish it off. The next section brings the volume up and the entire orchestra back into it, continuing forward with brass leading the way. Heading into the end of the track, a brass fanfare keeps the energy up while quick string work amplifies the melody. The ending is probably my favorite part, as a few simple notes get passed from strings and trombone, to woodwinds, to trumpet, to solo trombone, to solo French horn, to solo trumpet backed by the entire orchestra, all gaining steadily in volume up to a fantastic final note. Personally, I'd expect nothing less from a six and a half minute piece.


At the end of it all, the score for Soul Calibur III is sort of a mixed bag. From what I've talked about above, you get the sense that there is a lot of strong tracks on this album, and indeed there are. However, there is also a lot of repetition. The tracks aren't necessarily bad (which is why I didn't mention them as I normally would), but there are a lot of them that do sound similar. When you look at the main three groupings of the tracks (arena themes, character endings, and chronicles of the sword), many of the tracks within those groups have the same style, the same sound, and often the same kind of energy. Now, there are some stand out tracks within those groups, and I've mentioned a few of them here, so that repetition isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's a strong album, and there's much to enjoy here from start to finish.

Overall Score: 8/10