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Persona 3 Original Soundtrack (Japan) :: Review by Calvin

Persona 3 Original Soundtrack (Japan) Album Title: Persona 3 Original Soundtrack (Japan)
Record Label: Aniplex
Catalog No.: SVWC-7380/1
Release Date: July 19, 2006
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


Prior to listening to the Persona 3 Original Soundtrack, I enjoyed the music from Persona 2: Innocent Sin. However, the lack of distinguished styles left no outstanding impression on me so I didn't bother to find more works by the composers involved. In Persona 3, the series fortunately develops a unique musical identity thanks to Atlus' hottest composer, Shoji Meguro. Thanks to this soundtrack, I experienced about three weeks of Meguromania, when I crazily hunted all those albums done by him. Boy, this composer is good and deserves even more attention by video game music lovers. A savvy music creator, his style is a unique mixture of jazz, rock, and R'n'B. I was astonished that this style could appeal to me in Persona 3. Before this soundtrack, I always hated distorted guitar use, but this soundtrack single-handedly shifted my taste paradigm. Let's take a closer look at what it has to offer...


The Persona 3 Original Soundtrack is introduced with the groovy beats of "Burn My Dread". While the vocal melody is catchy, it is unfortunately not supported by good pronunciation of the lyrics. I almost thought the music was sung in some foreign language before I looked at the liner notes and realised it's written in English, or at least, Engrish. The lyrics are nevertheless unique for they actually tell the story of Persona 3. Despite the lack of clarity, I love this song very much. If you have played the Persona 2: Innocent Sin, you will likely be familiar with the second track, "Aria of the Soul" used in the Velvet Room. The wordless voice is enchanting and somehow sad while the piano accompaniment is beautiful. The song is used again in a crazy rock version for a boss battle at the end of the soundtrack.

The CD becomes hotter as we proceed further in and find Meguro's trademark metal guitar. He often combines this force with R'n'B, jazz, and hip-hop, most notably in the vocal tracks "Unavoidable Battle", "Mass Destruction", and "Deep Breath". There are times when the body of the music turns out to be very different to what is expected given the opening. An example is "Mass Destruction", one of my favourites on the soundtrack. However, the rapping lacks clarity and the lyrics are again almost nonsensical. Talking of great battle tracks, it's wonderful to see another adaptation of a vocal theme in "Burn My Dread -Last Battle-". Like "Battle Hymn of the Soul", this is a very clever adaptation.

There are also a number of light tunes which are probably used in settings outside dungeons. These include "Iwatodai Dorm", "Polonian Mall", "During the Test", "Joy", and "Afternoon Break". Most of these are dominated with R'n'B rhythms, which are quite enjoyable. There are also some tracks that appear like a filler due to lack of a solid melody, such as "Adventured Act" and "Nyx". Compared to other tracks, I think these two are most disappointing. The ending theme "Memories of You" is a J-Pop arrangement of "Joy" sung wonderfully by Yumi Kawamura. However, the album actually ends with the semi-hidden track "Blues in Velvet Room". It is the jazziest track on the entire album — a reinterpretation of the Velvet Room theme with distorted guitar and piano accompaniment.


In conclusion, the Persona 3 Original Soundtrack served as a good introduction to Shoji Meguro's work for me. What I liked about this CD were the amount of catchy mainstream-influenced setting and battle themes; as a typically classically-oriented listener, this soundtrack somehow made me enjoy heavy metal guitar performances that I previously loathed. If you love jazzy music and groovy beats, this album will likely satisfy you too. However, if you listen Meguro's prior works, particularly the powerful Digital Devil Saga set, this album is less impressive and there is room for improvement. Nevertheless, album serves as a gate to his other superior works, including his excellent contributions to Persona 3 Fes, Persona 3's arranged album, and Persona 4. This is a very enjoyable album, but there are other albums by Meguro that are superior.

Overall Score: 8/10