- 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 IV Original Soundtrack (Japan) :: Review by Resk

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


A few months after the game was released, listeners were treated to a full two disc version of the score for Soul Calibur IV. If you've read my preview of this album, you'll remember my focus on the incredible production value applied to the soundtrack, and the careful detail that was given to each of the tracks. For this review, I'll be following those same ideas looking at a variety of battle, character, and other miscellaneous themes. I've chosen to take a look at some of the more memorable tracks from the game, as with this album, separating the bad from the good is difficult without dissecting every small detail.


Up first is "Seize Your Destiny," the first of the Eminence tracks, and this game's opening theme. In the past, I have been particularly fond of the Soul Calibur opening themes (SCII's "Under the Star of Destiny" and SCIII's "Hour of Destiny"), but I notice something interesting about this one. While the other two have a strong presence outside the game, and not a particularly big impact when paired with the opening cinematic, I find that this one actually becomes more animated when paired with the movement on screen. In many ways, this time the track seems tailored to the opening cinematic itself. When listening on its own, it lacks that edge that is the signature of some of Junichi Nakatsuru's strongest tracks. It's still quite an enjoyable track and it uses the segmented structure of the other openings to keep the energy up. The piece begins on a quiet note, using low strings and brass to create a sense of foreboding. The track builds in volume, bringing in light choir, before falling back to a simple French horn solo. The next section becomes more of a march, featuring hard brass and strings, with more of an emphasis on the percussion work. Things speed up a bit in the next segment, continuously building until the brass comes to the forefront. There is a lot of power in this section that matches the cinematic quite well. From here, we move into the signature note rise pattern of the series, however this time around the ending isn't as spectacular. The orchestra steadily crescendos to a French horn final note, but it doesn't have the finality that one might expect. Still, overall I'd have to say this opening track is the most complete in the series.

Touching on it briefly, "Distant Thunder" is the second Eminence track, and it accompanies the opening title menu. It's a short piece, consisting of atmospheric blowing (almost a smoky noise) and a solo trumpet. Considering the track is only eleven notes long, why, you might ask, am I mentioning it? Well, this is a nice example of how much emphasis Nakatsuru has on instrumental solos. Many of his pieces feature a solo in one form or another, and seeing one on its own like this is a rare occurrence that is usually left for the opening and ending themes. "Revelation" is this game's main menu music, and I rather like this one. Comprised of light drums, low strings, brass swells, and some low choir, it's a very dark track that has a certain anticipation to it. I have to mention the onscreen graphics as well, as this music totally suits the soul swords gradually moving around the screen within their crystal confines. Very cool, if I do say so myself. "Uncovered History" plays on the character selection screen, and it offers a first look at what many of this game's tracks will sound like. A quick march, this track has fanfares galore from the brass, quick melodic segments from the strings and woodwinds, and some intricate percussion work on the snare drum. Again, this is another supporting piece, so the musical emphasis isn't as important, but the track fits its use quite well in the context of the game.

Moving onward, we're going to get into the nitty gritty of what this album has to offer, mainly the various arena battle themes. First up is "Immaculate Pledge," the arena theme for the Thesmophoros Imperial Garden. This is an upbeat track that has a focus on quick string work and sweeping brass swells. Beginning with a wonderful and bright opening, the melody is given to the French horn, while quick string chords accent the beat in the percussion, which features a wide array of various bongos, snare drums, and cymbals. The volume of the various parts during this piece is interesting, because the melody is actually quieter than the accompanying instrumentation. With the French horn though, this works quite well because the melody seemingly grows out of the chord work in the brass and strings. In the second part of this track, things slow down a bit, and the flute takes over the melody while the strings back off to simple swells. From here, the track picks up again, and keeps the energy going throughout the rest of the track, with inserts from the trumpets and flutes.

"Tempered Soul," the arena theme for the Hall of the Warrior God, has a distinct Asian sound to it. It focuses on a Chinese violin providing the melody, and Chinese drums providing the driving and intricate percussive bass line. For the majority of this piece, the main melody is accompanied by well balanced strings, with a heavy high cello presence. Throughout the track, the percussive drums really keep the piece moving, with an ever changing rhythmic line. Next is "Innocent Vision," the arena theme for the Jyurakudo Villa. First off, no, you're not listening to an episode of Heroes. The opening sounds a bit similar, but trust me, this isn't TV. This track is a little slower, and focuses more on long drawn out notes to create the melody. Light brass provides the accompaniment, while simple percussive work keeps the pace. Plucked strings can also be found helping to keep the rhythm but most of the instrumentation of this track is centered on providing an intricate and quick balance to the melody's melancholy feel. I would also like to point out that this track is performed by Akinori Inabi. Staying with the slower feel, let's look at "Phantasmagora," the arena theme for the Phantom Pavilion, and the third Eminence track. This track feels a bit less like a battle theme, because it is heavily centered on the plodding rhythmic line. It's a bit slow, clunky, and quite heavy on repetitive chords, with only a very basic melodic line to balance it out. This is probably one of the few battle tracks that actually gets lost during the game, because the movement on screen is too fast paced to stay balanced with the music.

Next, I'm going to look at the six battle themes that the player will hear the most when playing through a character's story. The story mode in the game has several arenas that move the story along. Among these arenas, six of them appear the most often (most of the other arena themes occur during the story's first round, while these ones populate the last four). First to be encountered is "Twilight Dwellers," the arena theme for Ostrheinsburg Castle. This is a brass heavy track that relies on percussion to keep the pace. Sharp chords can be found in the strings and lower brass, while trombones and trumpets provide a simple, yet powerful melody. Overall, this piece sounds very militaristic, and is an excellent match for the castle, in particular the raft on which you're fighting. Next in the story is "Reign of Doom," the arena theme for the Ostrheinsburg Castle Throne Room. This track keeps the spirit of the previous, continuing the militaristic feel. All of the instrumentation remains the same as well. However, this track also features an intricate organ section, with the organ also coming in later in the track. This inclusion does a wonderful job of keeping the regal feel of the castle, but also adding that extra bit of grandeur for fighting within the rich center space of the castle.

From here, the player travels to the Tower of Remembrance, where they will be for the remainder of the story. This location actually has four separate arenas, each with their own visual and musical style. The Ancient Gate arena features "Gigantesque," an upbeat and quick track full of fanfares, bright brass, and very quick strings. This track also features several solos, seen at first in the French horn and flute, and later in the oboe and trumpet. I'm skipping over some of the details here, only because many of these battle tracks contain the same elements, mainly fast intricate string work, complex rhythmic patterns, and brass swells, and this track contains all three. Entering the tower, we get "Breakthrough" in the Spiral of Time arena. This is the fourth of the Eminence tracks. This piece actually closely resembles "Uncovered History" in the way it is composed, and features many similar elements in the various portions of the track. Overall it is a very regal and powerful sounding track that keeps the energy alive without going incredibly fast or utilizing intricate and fast orchestral work.

High on top of the tower, if the player is facing Nightmare or Seigfried, they will hear "Destiny Will Tell" on the Encounter arena. This is perhaps one of my favorite arena themes, in that the rhythms are very well put together, and the instrumental sections weave together seamlessly. As one of the final battles of the story mode, it has a real sense of finality, featuring that heavy French horn in the melody and using choir as well to add another level to the track. In many ways as well, particularly with the melody, this track reminds me a bit of a Zelda piece, but takes it that one step further to become something incredibly fun to listen to, as well as fight to. On the flip side, if you ascend the tower and face off against Algol in the Degradation arena, you will hear "The Supreme Sword". This track, as is common with many of the SC final boss themes, has a sense of madness to it and a real darkness in the way it's composed. There is a lot of dissonance in this piece, and the intricate fast-paced high-pitched strings add just the right amount of edge to keep the player tense. The fast driving percussive work and the heavy, almost out of tune brass further keeps the macabre feel of the track, adding a sense of desperation to the fight. Altogether, this is a track that really makes use of its in game material to get the most out of the fight.

Turning from arena themes, I would like to take a look at some of the ending character themes from the game. These pieces are generally a lot shorter, but they tend to provide a lot more emotion. It should also be noted that this shift in atmosphere is likely due to the fact that these themes were composed by the other composers on the Soul Calibur IV project (see the album page for details). One thing I must mention is that the endings in this game are very different compared to what we've seen before, in that they all have a certain finality about them. Often, the music does a great job at mimicking this, creating beautiful, haunting, and thought provoking character themes. First up is "The Successor," the character ending theme for Tira (Nightmare's loyal follower), and it is one of my favorites on this album. This piece does a wonderful job of truly manifesting Tira's dual personality into music. The first half of the track is simple piano, strings, and flute, all played with incredible dissonance. It's all very quiet as well, keeping with the slightly maddening theme of Tira's dark side. The piece then shifts into a melodic based section, driven by chords in strings and piano with a vocal overtone. It has a resonance about it that is extremely peaceful and serene, something that otherwise would be totally out of character for Tira. However, this is a situation where the on screen visuals really bring a lot to the music. During this piece, we get to see Tira almost as the sweet self she could have once been, except it is tainted with her madness.

Another track that lends itself to a powerful visual ending, is "Fate Attested by the Sword," the character ending for Ivy. This piece begins in a similar way, with incredible dissonance but with a larger sound. The second half of the track, however, really lends itself well to the situation Ivy is in, and what lays before her. It has a power to it that portrays Ivy's inner confidence that is momentarily lost and regained. A third track I want to mention in this musical vein, is "Light of Salvation," the character ending for Sophitia. This piece is a little different compared to the previous two. It begins on a strong note with rhythmic strings, strong brass, and sharp timpani, with some choral work thrown in. However, that all dies down, and moves into a peaceful melody in the second half. Like the previous two, the music really pushes the movements on screen, creating a wonderful experience that really sums up Sophitia's character and her trials as a mother. Strings, woodwinds, and light brass (lead by a French horn) finishes this piece off nicely. These three characters are my favorites from the Soul Calibur franchise, and I am incredibly pleased with how their characters have been handled this time around.

Moving on we get "Dies Meti," the character ending theme for Nightmare. This track was first heard in the early trailers for the game, and it attempts an epic feel with loud choir in a powerful orchestral waltz. Although this is a fitting sound for Nightmare, as one of the shortest ending themes, it doesn't give a lot of time to develop, making the piece sound somewhat fragmentary on its own. Up next is "The Eternal Observer," the character ending theme for Zasalamel. This is a very interesting theme, in that the visual connected to it is more of a reflection than a resolution, and the piece reflects that well — a trait that is also shared by Zasalamel's character. The piece is formed through solo guitar, full strings, and some light piano, lending itself nicely to the overall feeling of looking forward. The melody is also quite nice, although the notes used are contained within one octave. Overall, a very nice finish for his character. One piece that I have to mention is "Unflinching Choice," the character ending theme for Xianghua. Of all the character themes (including Tira's), this one probably gives me the strongest emotional response. The piece is incredibly sad, and when paired with the visual, it becomes extremely moving, something I never expected to experience with Xianghua's character. The piece is driven by the piano with string accompaniment in the first section, before slightly growing in volume for the second half. The entire piece is also in a minor key, adding to the overall idea of despair and sacrifice generated by the melody.

With that, we come to the final piece of the album, the fifth track performed by Eminence. This is an arrangement of "Path of Destiny". While similar to the impressive SCIII version, it has been slightly reorchestrated to be more adaptable for orchestra rather than synth orchestra and voice. 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 roll and a cymbal crash later, we're presented the core melody of the piece through the strings. The next segment leads with an oboe, supported by strings, 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. A French horn also provides the counter melody. The trumpet becomes the focus, giving the main melody while staying crisp and clear in the upper register. Some light choral work can also be heard during this section, which further adds to the majesty of the piece. The next section switches gears and focuses on the woodwinds, featuring an oboe on lead supported by flutes. The choir also comes back in during this part, balancing the rest of the orchestral nicely. 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 various forces 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 full album for Soul Calibur IV is probably the strongest in the series to date. All of the arena tracks have been revamped, and now provide much more variation in both speed and instrumentation style, and the ending character themes have been totally redesigned to capture the essence of their characters. The instrumental quality, always an expected asset of a Soul Calibur score, is definitely back again, and in many ways has been enhanced for this new title. Any fan of the music of the Soul Calibur series will want to give this album a listen, because there are many gems on it that deserve to be experienced, and I certainly haven't said that about a lot of albums over the past year.

Overall Score: 9/10