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Symphonic Poem Dragon Slayer The Legend of Heroes Vol. 2 :: Review by Charles

Symphonic Poem Dragon Slayer The Legend of Heroes Vol. 2 Album Title: Symphonic Poem Dragon Slayer The Legend of Heroes Vol. 2
Record Label: King Records
Catalog No.: KICA-1113
Release Date: October 21, 1992
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Symphonic Poem Dragon Slayer The Legend of Heroes Vol. 2 is an example of an album inspired for commercial, rather than artistic reasons. Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes featured a short synthetic soundtrack written much like other old-school RPG music. The first symphonic album was able to cover the required ground in a high quality way and a second arranged album was absolutely unnecessary. Instead of offering a coherent symphonic suite, the second album instead features a random selection of short cinematic sketches dedicated to a handful of themes from the original soundtrack. While the orchestration and implementation is decent, the final result doesn't come together to form a particularly inspiring whole.


Let me make it clear that this album falls down due to its production, not its arrangements. As with the predecessor album, Tamiya Terashima is able some suitably colourful and fantastical arrangements throughout the album. Whether in the wistful woodwind-based "Prologue", dense and ghostly "Selios is Capured", or suitably bombastic "A Difficult Battle", the arranger demonstrates a command over the synthetic orchestra and a tendency to produce rich timbres. What's more, he often demonstrates an understanding of what made the original themes so appealing, ensuring plenty of fitting interpretations of the battle, castle, and ending themes.

Despite the elegance of the arrangements, the majority of them are drastically short. Whereas its predecessor featured wholesome extended suites, this album is dominated by short cues, few of them exceeding the 1:30 mark. There is some logic behind this decision, as it was intended for the album to be a retelling of the game's story using dramatic cinematic orchestrations. However, the result isn't entirely suited for stand-alone listening, since even promising tracks like "Selios' Theme" or "The Wrath of Akdam" seem to end before they even get started. In fact, only three of the tracks on the album exceed the two minute mark and the resultant release is a measly 30 minutes.

Perhaps a bigger problem than track time alone is the messy direction of the album. The album doesn't feel like it's telling an overall story, but rather seems to be a collection of largely unrelated ambient and dramatic moments. Furthermore, the album often feels repetitious since it relies on only about five themes from the original score again and again, rather than a range of themes. Listeners are bound to be bored and confused as the ending theme appears six times during the course of the experience, including just five minutes in. What's more, many of the variations are so samey that they're not really justified; "At Play" and "Study of the Sword" sound near-identical, for instance.


All in all, Symphonic Poem Dragon Slayer The Legend of Heroes Vol. 2 is a superfluous and uninspired production. While the idea of a cinematic reimagining of the game's story was a good one, the lack of an overriding dramatic arch, abrupt arrangements, and thematic repetition all prevent this from telling a coherent story. As an independent musical experience, it also falls down and there are only a few magical moments to rescue it from total failure. While I highly recommend the first symphonic poem, this sequel can safely be ignored.

Overall Score: 4/10