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The Legend of Heroes IV A Tear of Vermillion Soundtrack :: Review by Charles

The Legend of Heroes IV A Tear of Vermillion Original Soundtrack Album Title: The Legend of Heroes IV A Tear of Vermillion Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Nihon Falcom
Catalog No.: NW10102380
Release Date: February 10, 2001
Purchase: Buy at VGM World


The soundtrack for The Legend of Heroes IV has been released in three major two disc releases: Music from The Legend of Heroes IV Running Red Blood features music from the original PC-9801 game; The Legend of Heroes IV MIDI Special features remastered compositions from the oiginal; and The Legend of Heroes IV A Tear of Vermillion Original Soundtrack features arranged music and some new compositions for the modern PC remake. The remake soundtrack in many ways resembles a straightforward RPG soundtrack, but it represents a large technical and musical improvement on both the original score and its predecessor. Let's find out why.


Right from the opening themes, it's clear that The Legend of Heroes IV is a richer experience than its predecessor. Though "Memoria" is little more than a simple orgel solo, it seems fitting as a recollection of the more innocent predecessor. With "A Legend", the far more serious tone of the game unfolds as orchestral crisis chords and epic synth choirs complement the dark cinematic visuals. The experience only grows darker and bolder with tense action themes like "The Heretics' Attack" or psychological explorations such as "Frightened People". Even softer themes such as "Embraced by Warmth" and "Days of Peace" are tinged with melancholy, as if to preclude the dark fate that lies ahead for the world. Such themes wouldn't be so bittersweet and expressive were it not for their elaborate instrumentation and arrangements, though.

Though there are much more epic undertones running through this soundtrack, there is actually a similar amount of light-hearted themes. They are just presented in a different context — more like a diversion than the core of the experience — and fortunately most themes are better composed too. "The Village Where They Once Arrived" is a stellar example — an extremely catchy and smooth composition blending jazz and acoustic elements with a few nostalgic old-school references. This time synthpop compositions such as "Travelling on the Road of Dreams" and "A Carefree Gait" are actually well-integrated into the game while others like "The Rhythm of the Sea Breeze" and "On the Ocean Wind" are full of creativity. There are a few annoying tracks like "The Show Must Go On!", "Even Happier Comrades", and "High-Spirited Shannon", but they are few and far between.

The remake soundtrack features some particularly inspired new compositions. An early example is "Bonds ~ With a Burning Passion in My Heart ~", which transforms a catchy old-school theme into an exotic delight featuring passionate violin and guitar work. While the arrangement is solid, it's the beautiful and clear synth that makes it so refreshing compared to The Legend of Heroes soundtracks that preceded it. An even more diverse composition is exemplified by "Heart of Lutis". It develops from being an acoustic guitar during the first couple of chords towards becoming a richer tune topped off by a flute at the end. There is no real orchestration and such, but it's all so clear and polished that it's not a big deal. Of course, there are a fair number of well-produced rocking battle themes too, some new and some old, such as "We Mustn't Be Defeated!" and "Out of the Way!" that will delight fans of Falcom's trademark style.

As the soundtrack develops, that sense of fate only grows stronger. There is a metamorphoses to a much darker tone across the second disc, while "A Tear of Vermilion" and "My Name is Baldus" motifs recur in an effective way in conjunction with the development of the story. A particularly highlight is "The Divine Sword", since the "oncoming army" passage sounds amazing in context in the middle of the tune. Looking forward, compositions like "Sealed Earth" and "Gaps in Space and Time" provide an epic and surreal preparation for the intense final battles. "A Tear of Vermillion" is reprised in a seven minute orchestration for the end credits. It initially features some beautiful call and response passages between flute and oboe, but gradually becomes richer towards the fulfilling finish. It's a very effective way to resolve the soundtrack thematically and emotionally.


Overall, The Legend of Heroes IV A Tear of Vermillion Original Soundtrack offers both stylistic variety and consistent quality. I think any fan of the series or RPGs in general will find something on here that they can really enjoy. It features everything from emotional town themes to action-packed battle cues to haunting cinematic cues. There are cheery themes like The Legend of Heroes III, but they're much more robust, and the darker music is more grand and individual this time. It's clear that the Falcom Sound Team J.D.K. were inspired by the much more rich and expansive nature of the game when arranging and expanding the soundtrack. On the remake, they create one of the most definitive offerings of the series.

Overall Score: 9/10