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Grandia II Original Soundtracks: Deus :: Review by Totz

Grandia II Original Soundtracks: Deus Album Title: Grandia II Original Soundtracks: Deus
Record Label: Two Five Records
Catalog No.: TRCD-10013
Release Date: September 8, 2000
Purchase: Buy at VGM World


Grandia II was my only Dreamcast RPG (I didn't care that much for Skies of Arcadia at the time, but it's a good game). Because of that, I could concentrate my playing time on it, instead of having to spread it through several games at once, which would only lead to me going "Huh?" a lot of times. Well, I really liked it, and I consider it to be one of the Dreamcast's best games.

The Grandia games were never that great in stories, but the awesome characters more than make up for it. Ryudo is easily one of most easiest people to quote in real life. Just for fun, try saying stuff like "We're together. We're holding hands. Why else would we be so damn near each other?" when someone sees you and someone else walking holding hands and asks you if you're going out or dating or whatever. The look on the person's face will be priceless.

Anyhow, no great game would be complete without a wonderful soundtrack. Iwadare did a fantastic job with the game's soundtrack, and all praise directed at him because of it is well-deserved. Unfortunately, I wish I could say his more recent works are as good as Grandia II, but I can't. This was probably the last original album that Iwadare got right. Let's go see why, shall we?

Track-by-Track Reviews

1) Memory of the Gods

As we witness the history of the battle between Lord Granas and Valmar, we need a tune that can accompany it, and "Memory of the Gods" is just that. After a hushing sound of sorts, brass, a harp, and strings are somewhat clumsilly put one after another. A great violin-based theme appears at 0:32, and then everything sort of revolves around it for a while. After a non-existant linking section, we are thrown from supporting brass to leading winds, as a flute takes center stage with strings playing an ostinato. Brass, not happy with not appearing, attempt to overtake the sweet sound of the woodwind, alongside with the harp, but they fail; their particular section sounds a bit messy and such things usually yield no winners. Valmar falls at the hands of the Granasaber wielding Granas, and now all is well, and the violin theme reappears, but this time, charged with all sorts of "happy" harmonies. After an ascending passage, the track ends with a mighty thump of the timpani and a powerful chord courtesy of all instrumental sections. (8/10)

2) Opening Act

That Ryudo... always getting himself into trouble, right? Yeah... Well, his adventures have to begin somewhere, right? At first, we are thriumphantly taken to the skies as Skye, our character's eagle, flies around looking for him. Now, my memory's a bit fuzzy, but the more joke-ish part of the composition that follows is played when we see Ryudo hanging from a tree as he waits for his pet to distract the goblins that took something from some old man.�This track ends up going all over the place and the transitions between each section are very poor despite its fittingness in the game. Thus, the score...�(5/10)

3) Village of Carbo ~ Pious Adepts

Not long after finishing his latest assignment, Ryudo finds himself going to Carbo, because someone there is in need of his services. As the track tells you, the village is pretty peaceful and everything... or is it? Anyway, I really like the beginning of the composition, with the lonely flute. But what really gets me is the part at 0:23, right after percussion has begun, because the woodwind part is doubled by something else I can't quite put my finger on, but it works really well. (8/10)

4) A Deus

If you want to write a song for your game, but don't want to use the overused stuff like English, Japanese, or Latin, you can follow Grandia II's example and use Portuguese. That's because it is the greatest language that has ever graced God's green Earth.�"A Deus" is a very soothing song, with a harp accompanying the singing, as well as some relaxing sound effects like birds chirping. Later, a flute replaces the singing and a violin accompaniment makes it more dramatic until the singing returns, stronger than ever. It ends on a high note, with just voice, harp and sound effects. (10/10)

5) The Ones Hidden Within the Darkness (1)

Iwadare and ambience aren't really a good combo... and this track is here to prove it. Built over seldom drum thumps and suspended synth notes, there's also the clichéd unresolved staccato line used to create some tension. It's a minute and a half of, well, nothing. (4/10)

6) Tower of Garmia

Complete filler track. It's evil all around. Ominous strings? Check. Timpani roll? Check. Choir? Check. But for what it's worth, it does its job quite well, which is to show us this evil-looking tower where a sealing ritual will take place. That's pretty much it. (4/10)

7) Dangerous Zone

Come on, Ryudo! We must climb the Tower of Garmia because something's wrong. "Dangerous Zone" could easily be one of Iwadare's battle themes, because it's a cut from the same cloth: electric guitar being rockin', rock organ improvising and being rockin', drums being intense, and bass almost inaudible. There's also some crazy screaming voice, which, for some reason, I don't remember hearing during the game. Three quarters of the way through, the composition changes dramatically, and gets a slower-paced, but still with the same rockin' feeling the rest of the piece has. One thing I don't get is the harpsichord in the beginning: why use it so little, or at all? You've got an awesome rock organ anyway. (8/10)

8) Fight!! Ver. 1

Easily my second favourite Grandia battle theme of all time, right behind Xtreme's "COMBAT 4." "Fight!! Ver. 1" has all the making of an awesome fight tune, because, like Iwadare himself says, when composing this kind of music, he imagines he himself is the hero, fighting against the enemies. And what a good combatant he must be, because this baby right here is fantastic. While it is the usual Iwadare kind of battle music, this doesn't prevent it from being great. Rocking melodic line, intense drum line, and great back up instruments are astonishingly well put together. Score for Noriyuki. (10/10)

9) "You Won't Be Able to Kill Me Just Like That!"

This fanfare is played when you defeat the enemies while getting hit at least once, so that implies there is another theme for a perfect victory, right? Yeah, but not on this album. I really like "You Won't Be Able to Kill Me Just Like That!", not because it's some unusual kind of fanfare, because it's not, but because it's so darn enjoyable. You've got brass and strings leading the way, with some percussion and bass accompaning them. Oh, and there's a certain theme you'll hear on the other Grandia II album that is the meat of the fanfare which makes it so fun to listen. (8/10)

10) Come On, Let's Travel

Let's. After all the dark events that took place on Garmia and then on Carbo, hearing such a happy-go-lucky tune sure is good. It's not just peppy, it's also very entertaining. The melody travels (pun not very intended) around two woodwinds — a flute and what sounds like a pan flute — and a synth sound. The whole thing is built on a drum and brass line, which works well, no matter what instrument is playing the melody. (9/10)

11) Inn Town Ageel ~ Cursed Land

Ageel is pretty much what the title says — an inn town. You get there, rest on an inn, go help that annoying boy, he joins you, and all is right in the world. The beginning of the composition sounds gloomy, with yet another synth line over percussion (which is quite varied, I must add) and another synth line (resembling a keyboard). The B section of the composition is a bit livelier, which is a bit weird, considering this is supposed to be a cursed land. Said section is dominated by short brass lines that alternate between ascending and descending. It's overall a good tune, but the touches of brass in the A section and the B section could have been different. (6/10)

12) The Ones Hidden Within the Darkness (2)

Great, just like the other one, but even more annoying, with more stuff added. Now you have some weird ticking noises (yeah, like a clock) and this really unnerving noise in EVERY beat. Ugh.�(3/10)

13) Commercial Town Lilig ~ Apparent Prosperity

For a town where its habitants can't taste food, this sure is a happy track. It might be a simple composition development-wise, but the rest more than makes up for it. It's got an enjoyable melody, great transitions, and fun accompaniment that represents the bustling engineering stuff the town has — it's not just a gimmick, it's actually important. This theme has the whole nine yards. It's not as overly complex as Carbo's or Ageel's themes, but it sure is purdy. (9/10)

14) The Broken Seal

And Iwadare tries his hand at ambience again. The only difference is that "The Broken Seal" has an awesome violin section instead of a lot of nothing, so it's not as bad as those other two tracks that shall remain unnamed. It's a very tense composition, and it might work during the game, but to work outside, it has to be some pretty great ambience, or else it'll bore the listeners. At least it's got some originality;atn the end, you hear a roar, like what has been released is screaming in anger. In a nutshell, violin section, boring crescendo string section, boring brass section, roar. (5/10)

15) Purification of Darkness ~ Battle With the Parts

See, I hate it when I say Iwadare excels at battle themes and people don't believe me. There are plenty of examples to prove my point, and "Purification of Darkness" is yet another one. For those who have never played the game, you might be wondering "Parts of WHAT, exactly?" Parts of Valmar, the dark god of destruction, that's what! You have the Wings, the Eyes, the Tongue, the Horns, the Body, and the Head, if I remember correctly, and every time you fight them, this tune is played. Neat, eh? Instead of the usual electric guitar we all know and love, we are treated to a more of an orchestral battle theme, with strings being the main instruments. After a string passage, the percussion, represented by timpani, percussion, and cymbals comes straight at us, and with a single thump and crash, you know they mean business.��(10/10)

16) Nightmare Village Milm ~ A Good, Unknown Anxiety

I love Milm's "drum and something else" ostinato, and its melody is pretty good too, even with weird screams. The B section I found not as good as the A section, because it abuses the ostinato without a decent melodic line to go with it. You have some ethnic instruments thrown in the mix as well, backing up the woodwind melody. It sort of sounds Middle-Eastern, which is a nice contrast to all the synth stuff Iwadare has been using throughout almost the entire album. (9/10)

17) The Garden of Dreams ~ The Mysterious Girl

I can understand why the use of a music box (girl) and why its line never seems to resolve itself (mysterious), but I don't get why Iwadare keeps writing ambient stuff. Especially when it's almost five minutes long. It's true that the track changes halfway through, but the new section, while still all mysterious and stuff, didn't really catch my interest. Piano with suspended strings, a music box, and light percussion a good tense theme do not always make, hm? (6/10)

18) Fight!! Ver. 2

After the awesomeness of Ver. 1, you'd expect Ver. 2 to be great too, right? Too bad it's not. This battle theme is played when the party is ambushed by an enemy, and it's just yet another incentive to pay attention to your surroundings. It's a lot more intense than the regular fight music, but the fact that the electric guitar is annoying as heck and that it seems to be just the same measure being repeated over and over again doesn't help. There's a cool keyboard improv smack dab in the middle that lasts all the way through the end, but it can't save the mediocrity of the rest of the composition. Stick to Ver. 1, please. (5/10)

19) The Country of Laws Sainthaim ~ Pious Adepts

Ryudo and Elena have reached their destination: St Heim Papal State! What I like about this track: the melody is pretty enjoyable, the synth voices make it seem "holy," and "A Deus" is quoted. What I dislike about this track: the percussion ostinato (it's so over the top that it annoys sometimes) and the end (it's borderline comical, why?). It's a great composition — one where the strengths more than make up for the weaknesses, which are more pet-peeves of mine than actual problems with the music. Thing is, I have OCD, so everything needs to be in order and in its place. (7/10)/p>

20) Out for Lunch

The "eating" theme is one of my favourite recurring motifs of the Grandia series, because it's so light and fun to listen to. This rendition has a flute playing the melody accompanied by pizzicato strings, light percussion, and a low-pitched wind. And guess what? The theme from the fanfare also makes an appearance here in the B secion, played by what seems to be a bassoon. Isn't that super, delicious, ultra, great, and atomic?� (8/10)

21) Granas Sanctuary

Church organ + "A Deus" = "Granas Sanctuary." It's more the former than the latter, though. But "A Deus" gets a much more relaxing rendition this time around, being much slower, and even though it's not the full song, it doesn't have to be. The atmosphere is there, and the organ part, albeit very drawn-out, is still good, and keeps up with the "holy" atmosphere. (7/10)

22) Granas Sable

And to end the album, "Granas Sable," an epic, orchestral work. It's a bit like an intermission between the two Grandia II albums. It begins exactly like "Opening Act," but while the original goes to a joke-ish section, "Granas Sable" takes a more dramatic route, by having an instrumental rendition of the beginning of "A Deus" featuring the strings playing the melody over a brass and timpani ostinato. It's a lot livelier than the original, but then, after a few repeats with small variations, we hear a slower version of the same section, until the piece segues into a darker, more epic part with timpani rolls, brass, and strings. The piece loops once again, but it ends after an "A Deus" quote with the same thumping beginning and brass parts. Even though it repeats the same material a bit too much, the finished product is great. The orchestration is top notch, and the whole thing just feels great to listen to. (10/10)


Grandia II was my second Iwadare game (the first being Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete on the PlayStation), and so I didn't really know what to expect musically. I was blown away by the color of town themes, the rocking nature of battle music, and the tense atmosphere of ambient tunes (yes, they work during the game). With the Dreamcast version of the game, a small sample soundtrack was included and they were nice enough to provide "A Deus" and "Fight!! Ver. 1," among others. I was quickly addicted to them.

Being half of the total score of Grandia II, it's a bit hard to judge Deus. It certainly has some stinkers, but the good clearly overshadows the bad. Hey, at least some of the game's best tracks ("Fight!! Ver. 1," for example) are in this volume, so it's a pretty good purchase if you are either a Iwadare or Grandia fan.

Overall Score: 8/10