Xenogears Original Soundtrack :: Review by Z-Freak
Xenogears was Yasunori Mitsuda's first solo project, and the results are nothing short of outstanding. Xenogears easily ranks among some of the best music that Squaresoft could have ever produced. For the score, Mitsuda has used a completely different approach. For example, a Bulgarian chorus appears in many tracks, which makes Xenogears stand out from the usual Square fare. For now, I'll describe both discs. Take in mind that it is a much more enjoyable experience to listen to the Original Soundtrack itself while reading this.
The opening anime sequence was breathtaking. "Light from the Netherworld," the music accompanying it, is so good. This is how RPG introduction themes should be: powerful and filled with emotion. We also get that chorus I spoke of, which intensifies the beauty of this track. Another early track, "Bonds of Sea and Fire," is made very enjoyable with it's soft flute in the background. Is it just me or does "My Village is Number One" sound a lot like "Guardia Millenial Fair" from Mitsuda's last masterpiece, Chrono Trigger? It's one of the best town themes ever and has a Celtic / Scottish sound to it, something we don't hear often in the latest RPGs. The first battle track we get is "Steel Giant," which is wonderfully orchestrated and easily shows the danger when Fei was fighting invaders with that Giant Mech. All four of these tracks contribute towards a great diverse opening in the game.
The dungeon and setting themes are often very original pieces. One, for example is the awesome "Forest of the Black Moon." It's mysterious, yet beautiful and somehow epic. It's easy to imagine yourself running about in that forest, it couldn't had gotten a better theme. "Shattering Egg of Dreams" however, is very sad, everytime I listen to it, I remember that saddening scene of Fei getting banished from his village for unwillingly killing a few people while trying to defend against invaders. Very sad indeed. The second town theme, "Dazil: City of Burning Sands" clearly has an Arabian sound to it and when the chorus joins in it gets better. It's quite original for a town theme. Yasunori Mitsuda has never dissapointed with map themes, we are presented to "Emotions." It's easily among the best map themes ever, being happy and serene. I often just got out on the map just to listen to it.
The other themes are quite energetic and action-based. The villain theme, "Graaf, Emperor of Darkness," definitely fits the bill. It's a dark and brooding track, but a great one rivaling Chrono Trigger's "Battle With Magus" and Final Fantasy VII's "Those Chosen by the Planet." Another example of a track containing shades of a track from previous games is "Leftovers of the Dreams of the Strong." The first 25 seconds sounds exactly like "Commander in Training" from Final Fantasy Tactics, although it changes completely after the 25 seconds and becomes another winner track. The regular battle theme, "Stage of Death," sounds a lot like something you'd expect in Final Fantasy Tactics, but it has more beat than Sakimoto's and Iwata's classical battle themes for that score. Is it enjoyable? Oh yeah! That pretty much covers the goodness in Disc One, but there are far more treats in Disc Two.
Disc Two begins in a very diverse way. The first track is "Ship of Regret and Sleep." Here we get some more vocals, and the religious feel that Xenogears holds starts here. Next up is "Jaws of Ice," which is probably another dungeon theme, sounding a bit creepy, but still is an enjoyable listen. The boss theme, "Knight of Fire," is another winning battle theme. At the end there are some voices, but it's impossible to make out what they say. You'll also notice that it has it's share of trumpets and drums. Very good beat + very good melody = one hell of a good boss theme!
Disc Two has a fair share of airy themes. "Shevat: The Wind is Calling" sounds alot like certain themes from Chrono Trigger, at least in the first few seconds. It's a lovely theme and it easily stays stuck in my head. "Wings" is by no doubt the airship theme (I'm assuming there is one) and this is the very best airship theme I've heard so far. "Pray for the People's Joy" is a very good organ piece, rivalling Ms Shimomura's best in Live A Live and Parasite Eve.
"Omen" changes completely the feeling of religion to fear and evil. It builds up for "Awakening," the first of the last boss themes. After a while the chorus joins in, making it among the more memorable final boss tracks. The last of the final boss themes, "One who Bares Fangs at God," is undoubtedly one the most bizzare last boss themes I've heard. It's slow, contains very little melody, but the chorus makes up for lack of melody. If I could actually get to that point in the game, it would probably help me more in appreciating it's beauty and originality. The ending theme, "Small of Two Pieces," is one among the good vocal tracks, unlike a certain Symphony of the Night vocal. Is it just me or does it sound strikingly similar to Celine Dion's "My Heart will go on" in the movie Titanic?
Well, to conclude my review, the Xenogears Original Soundtrack is definitely worth getting, although I'd highly reccomend you play and beat the game first. Despite it becoming unavailable due to DigiCube's bankruptcy, it has recently been reprinted, so go and get it while it's still available!
Overall Score: 8/10